Syrian government is using chemical gas weapons on civilians, United Nations says

Syrian government is using chemical gas weapons on civilians, United Nations says

Kerry Wise
February 8, 2018

An elderly Syrian man carries a child as he walks through the dust following a reported regime air strike in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 6, 2018.

Streets in the stricken area were covered in dust as one strike after another hit the same neighborhoods.

Images showed rescuers pulling survivors, covered in white dust, from under collapsed buildings. These are multiple fires we have to respond to, with a dramatic deterioration in many places."Moumtzis said a perception that the Syrian war was winding down had probably reduced impetus towards a political solution to the crisis, which had remained elusive despite three separate peace processes, in Geneva, Astana and most recently the Russian town of Sochi".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 70 people were wounded Monday and the number of casualties was likely to climb as rescue operations got underway. That brings the death toll for Eastern Ghouta since Monday to 145 civilians, the group said. "No area at all in Ghouta is safe".

It was the second attack on the soldiers in a week.

Relations between Washington and Ankara have been strained, in part due to United States support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

Slowly, backed by Iran and Russia, Syrian president Bashar al Assad has recaptured territory. Since the most recent Syrian army offensive began in mid-December, 300,000 people have been displaced within Idlib, said Moumtzis.

Meanwhile, commenting on whether there are negotiations with US authorities on evacuating YPG elements or locals from Afrin, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday in an interview with TGRT Haber that the USA has no military presence in Afrin, and that Turkey is already taking necessary measures to protect civilians.

U.S. imposes new sanctions on Hezbollah
Most of the individuals targeted had not been publicly known to be Hezbollah financiers and are not prominent names in Lebanon. It will be a "very bad day for" Tabaja, said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At least 22 children and 21 women were among the dead.

Syrian State Media reported that three people had been killed by rebel shelling of Damascus.

The Russian pilot who was shot down over Syria on Saturday blew himself up with a grenade to avoid being captured by rebels, according to Russian media.

Activists say the campaign in Ghouta escalated after rebels there refused to join peace talks hosted by Russian Federation last month.

All too familiar scenes of chaos engulfed towns scattered across the semi-rural rebel-held area of Ghouta which lies just east of Damascus. The ongoing fighting and deliberate obstructions by forces were preventing aid organizations from reaching civilians, it said.

A United Nations -mandated investigator said Tuesday his team was probing reports that bombs allegedly containing weaponized chlorine have been used on two recent occasions in Syria.

The local government said on Wednesday that all schools were closed due to the heavy bombardments on Eastern Ghouta, home to an estimated 400,000 people who are living with little access to food, fuel and healthcare under the tightening siege.

The conflict, which has continued for nearly seven years, has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced millions. Though Assad appears to have survived the insurgency, his forces continue to bomb and besiege opposition pockets around the country, including in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.