SARAQEB, Libya, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A helicopter dropped toxic chlorine gas on a Syrian town near the site of the downing of a Russian helicopter, doctors and witnesses said.
Rescuers said barrels of the gas, used as an industrial chemical but outlawed for war by the Geneva Conventions, were dropped on the village of Saraqeb in Idlib province, where a Russian helicopter finishing a humanitarian mission was shot down by ground fire earlier in the week. All five aboard the helicopter died, and Russia has not resumed airstrikes on Syrian militant groups since the incident.
A Syria Civil Defense spokesman said 33 civilians were injured in the attack, the BBC reported, but it is unclear who was responsible. Both sides in Syria’s five-year civil war have been accused of using chemical weapons. Those exposed to the gas typically are left with skin burns and breathing problems.
Two barrels of chlorine gas were dropped, said Dr. Abdel Aziz Bareeh, a Saraqeb resident.
“We know it’s chlorine because we were hit by it in the past and we are familiar with its odor and symptoms. We have 28 confirmed cases, mostly women and children,” Bareeh told the BBC.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he doubted the news story regarding the chlorine gas attack, saying: “It is very hard to react to such information releases. It is not always clear what they are based on, what their sources are, and so on.”
Peskov added he had no comment on when Russian airstrikes would begin again.