By Sebastian West
On 17 February, 2018, the United Nations (UN) human rights experts looked into an alleged chlorine attack in Saraqib, Syria. The government targeted one of the last rebel anti-regime outposts in Eastern Ghouta, Saraqib, which is close to Damascus. Paulo Pinheiro, Chairman of the UN’s commision inquiry of Syria said that he has “deep concern” over the escalation of violence in rebel-held Saraqib
A volunteer rescue group in Syria, the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian civil defense, sent a team to help and rescue the civilians of the attacks. The organization reported that six of its members received injuries from chlorine. They posted images and videos of rebel soldiers and civilians suffering with coughs, and collapsing on the floors with no evident gunshot or shrapnel wounds. Two unnamed media activists from the nearby town of Kafranbel told CNN reporters that the gas attacks seemed to be launched from helicopters over a precise area. Moreover, the media activists stated that they saw a helicopter being shot down by rebel soldiers – after which the pilot committed suicide in order to prevent his eventual capture.
The UK based Syrian observatory reported that 78 people, 20 of which were children, had been killed, and another 190 were injured. Russia, who were condemned for their involvement, defended the action by stating that they were targeting Al Qaeda members who were reportedly positioned there.