ALEPPO, Syria, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Both the Syrian government and rebels involved in the country’s civil war are accusing the other of using toxic gas in attacks in the northern part of the country.
The Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella organization of rebel groups fighting government troops, said the town of Saraqeb, in Idlib province, was shelled by government troops with bombs containing chlorine gas, an industrial chemical outlawed for warfare. It said 30 people were affected with breathing problems, noting the attack occurred near the site where a Russian helicopter was shot down by rebel ground fire Monday; five Russian soldiers aboard the helicopter died.
Meanwhile, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported rocket attacks by rebel groups killed seven civilians and injured 25 others in the city of Aleppo. One attack included shells containing toxic gas, it said. It added that Mohamad Hazouri, Aleppo’s health director, said five people were killed and eight had breathing problems after shells filled with toxic gas struck Aleppo’s Old City.
The Syrian conflict has seen occasional use of chemical weapons, notably in 2013, when rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were fired into several opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs of Damascus. The attack killed an estimated 1,400 people, with both sides in the conflict trading accusations of responsibility.