UN probes chlorine gas use in Aleppo

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Beirut—UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday that the international body is investigating if chlorine gas has been used in the divided city of Aleppo.
“There is a lot of evidence that it actually did take place,” de Mistura told reporters, adding that if confirmed the attack would amount to a war crime.
A Syrian rescue worker said three civilians, a mother and two children, died in a suspected chlorine gas attack on an opposition-held district in the city of Aleppo.
Khaled Harah, a first responder, said a government helicopter dropped four barrel bombs on Wednesday night on the neighborhood of Zabadieh and that one of them released chlorine gas.
The report, which was posted online on Thursday, could not be independently verified and it was not clear how it was determined that chlorine gas was released.
A hospital and a civil defense group also told Reuters that at least four people died and many suffered breathing difficulties when a gas, believed to be chlorine, was dropped alongside barrel bombs on the neighborhood.
Hamza Khatib, the manager of Al-Quds hospital in Aleppo, told a Reuters photographer the hospital had recorded four deaths from gas poisoning and 55 injuries. Seven people were still receiving hospital treatment.
Khatib said he was preserving pieces of patients clothing and fragments from the barrel bombs as evidence for analysis.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said helicopters dropped explosive barrels on the neighborhoods of Seif al Dawla and Zubdiya, leading to the death of a woman and her child from suffocation. Syrian military denies.
Meanwhile, a Syrian military official has denied allegations of a chlorine gas attack against an opposition-held district in Aleppo.
The official said Thursday that militants had fabricated the news and stressed that the Syrian army would never use chemical weapons.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press because he is not authorized to give official statements.
The northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s most populous before the war, is split into rebel- and government-held districts.
Capturing the whole city would be a major prize for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s five-year-old conflict.—Agencies

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