Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Gilles Kepel, Islamic and Arab world specialist

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Argentina braced for another debt default

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'What would you do?'

Read more

  • US and EU slap Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Israel ramps up Gaza bombardment

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fuel fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

  • Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s ‘little bird’ strikes again

    Read more

  • France extradites suspected Jewish Museum shooter to Belgium

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs born in French zoo

    Read more

  • US says Russia violated arms treaty by testing cruise missile

    Read more

  • Argentina in last-ditch effort to avert default

    Read more

Middle east

Scores killed in ‘chemical weapons’ attack in Syria

© AFP (archive photo)

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-21

Scores were reported killed in a bombardment on the outskirts of Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday as opposition forces accused the government of using chemical weapons in the attack.

Syrian anti-government activists accused the regime of carrying out a toxic gas attack on Wednesday that killed at least 100 people, including many children, during intense artillery and rocket barrages on the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

Rebel positions were bombarded in the eastern suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar in the country’s Ghouta region.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS

The UN Security Council scheduled emergency consultations Wednesday on the alleged use of chemical weapons near Damascus. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was determined to ensure a "thorough investigation'' of all reported incidents.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which gathers information from a network of activists and medics, said that as many as 100 people had been killed in the violence.

Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said that 1,300 people were killed.

“Today’s crimes are...not the first time the regime has used chemical weapons,” Coalition leader George Sabra told a news conference in Istanbul. “But they constitute a significant turning point in the regime’s operations...This time it was for annihilation rather than terror.”

The allegations came as a 20-member United Nations team was in Syria to investigate three sites where chemical weapons were claimed to have been used in the past during the country’s more than two-year old crisis.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government swiftly denied accusations that it was responsible for using chemical weapons.

“They are an attempt by to divert the UN commission on chemical weapons from carrying out its mission,” the state-run SANA news agency said, quoting an unnamed government official, as is its standard practice.

‘Poison gas’

Heavy explosions and the sound of fighter jets could be heard by residents in the Syrian capital throughout the night and early Wednesday, as gray smoke hung over towns in the eastern suburbs.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the SOHR, said activists in the area reported that “poisonous gas” had been fired in rockets as well as from the air in the deadly attack. He added that government forces had launched a wide offensive on the eastern and western rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.

Amid calls by Syria’s opposition to investigate the scene of the bombardment, the leader of the UN chemical weapons team, Ake Sellstrom, said that the incident should be looked into but that doing so would require a request from a UN member state.

Britain said it was deeply concerned and would raise the issue at the UN Security Council, adding the attacks would be “a shocking escalation” if confirmed. French President François Hollande echoed calls to investigate allegations of a chemical attack, saying he planned to ask the UN to do so.

The crisis in Syria first began in March 2011 as an anti-government protest movement, before exploding into a full-scale conflict that has since claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-21

  • SYRIA

    UN chemical weapons team arrives in Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    UN to inspect suspected chemical attack sites in Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syria, Russia dismiss US chemical weapons claims

    Read more

COMMENT(S)