Syrian activists allege gas attack in Damascus suburb
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Syrian activists allege gas attack in Damascus suburb

White Helmets rescuers say 20 civilians affected in suspected chlorine gas attack on Douma district that was reportedly followed by a foul smell

A member of a UN chemical weapons investigation team takes samples from sand near Damascus, Syria, August 28, 2013. (AP/United Media Office of Arbeen)
A member of a UN chemical weapons investigation team takes samples from sand near Damascus, Syria, August 28, 2013. (AP/United Media Office of Arbeen)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian activists and rescue teams said Monday that the Syrian government has launched an attack with suspected poisonous gas that has affected nearly 20 civilians in a rebel-held suburb near the capital Damascus.

The team of first responders known as White Helmets, or Syrian Civil Defense, said the attack hit a neighborhood in the Douma district early on Monday.

It said the rescuers evacuated more than 20 civilians, most of them women and children, from the area, which they said was hit with a suspected chlorine attack. The Ghouta Media Center, an activist-operated media outlet, also claimed the attack involved chlorine gas.

Activists said a foul smell followed a series of bombings that hit the Douma neighborhood.

Such claims are not new but they are difficult to verify because of the lack of chemical labs and independent testers. A UN inquiry panel had previously blamed the government for a number of chlorine and sarin attacks in Syria.

The Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus has been under intensive attack and the UN has said government forces are holding 400,000 people under siege there.

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