At least 46 people, including 8 children have been hospitalized in Aleppo with symptoms of gas poisoning from chlorine, according to the Russian military who sent special units to assist with treating patients after the attack.
Russian experts have used “gas analyzers” to confirm the chemical contamination of the shelled areas in Aleppo, a spokesman for Russia’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Protection Force said. Samples of soil, as well as fragments of buildings and ammunition, were recovered in order to establish the composition of the toxic substance, used by the militants in the attack, he said.
Syrian media say over 100 people were injured. The shelling that targeted residential areas of Aleppo on Saturday night is believed to have been launched from within the Idlib de-escalation zone, from an area controlled by the former Al-Nusra front.
Damascus said the attack aimed to further frame the Syrian government, according to Sana news agency. The Syrian Foreign Ministry called on the UN Security Council to immediately condemn the “terrorist crimes,” and take “deterrent and punitive measures against the states and regimes backing terrorism.”
The statement stopped short to name any particular “sponsors,” but said the attack occurred as the result of “facilitation” provided by “some countries” to deliver chemicals to armed militants.
The attack was an attempt to damage the Syrian normalization process, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. She added that the shelling of Aleppo must be condemned by the international community, which has been silent of the incident so far.
Analyst Ali Rizk, who specializes in Middle East affairs, told RT that the shelling is “further proof” of Russia’s constant warnings that the militants possess chemicals. Idlib remains a terrorist “safe haven”, he stressed.
“If terrorists are left alone for more time I think they will only continue such attacks, which I think makes it more and more imperative to go ahead as soon as possible to eliminate these terrorists,” Rizk told the channel.
Speaking of what terrorists can achieve by such actions, the analyst said that they want to show that the war is not over and boost morale among militants, as well as scare off Syrian refugees who fled the country from returning back home.
Previous alleged chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April, for which the West was quick to pin the blame on Damascus, was used as a pretext for US-UK-French missile strikes against Syria. Russia has repeatedly stressed that the incident was staged and warned that terrorist groups are plotting to carry out more false flag chemical attacks in the Arab Republic.