Syria: Gas attack targets Damascus suburb

Syria: Gas attack targets Damascus suburb
Deadly chlorine gas swept through the Jobar suburb on Tuesday, as Syrian government forces launched another assault on this strategically important rebel-held neighbourhood.
2 min read
06 November, 2014
Refugees have sent makeshift gas masks to Syria [Anadolu]

A gas attack by regime forces on a target close to a soft drinks factory in the Damascus neighbourhood of Jobar on Tuesday left one person dead and caused 11 others to suffer asphyxiation.

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have made several failed attempts to storm the Jobar neighbourhood this week, after a heavy shelling campaign.

The suburb has been the target of numerous gas attacks.

neighbouring village of Bala, in the Damascus countryside, has also been a target for government forces which earlier launched a fierce ground offensive backed by missile attacks and air assaults on the village.


Salem al-Maslat, a spokesperson for the Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella of opposition groups opposed to Assad's rule, described the gas attack as "criminal".

He called on the international community to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria and to hold the regime accountable for violations of Security Council Resolution 2118, which demanded that Syria hand over its chemical weapons arsenal.

     Verifying the use of the chlorine gas is not within the jurisdiction of the mission.
- Sigrid Kaag, OPCW-UN mission coordinator

In September, the Syrian regime announced that it had delivered all of its chemical weapons to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), including 100 tons of poisonous gas. Damascus was not required to declare its chlorine stockpiles.

The regime's decision to disband its chemical arsenal came after a sarin gas assault on the rebel held Ghouta neighbourhood in August 2013, which left hundreds and possibly thousands dead.

The Ghouta attack was widely blamed on Damascus and proposed United States airstrikes on Syrian targets were cancelled when the regime announced that it would destroy its chemical stockpiles.

Despite assurances from the regime that all prohibited material had been handed over to the OPCW, gas attacks on rebel-held areas have continued.

OPCW-UN Joint Mission Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag earlier said that "verifying the use of the chlorine gas is not within the jurisdiction of the mission", making it difficult to pin blame on the regime.

Chorine is a colourless, non-flammable gas, with a distinctive smell.

Those exposed to the gas show symptoms such as the reddening of the face and a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat.

Chlorine was one of the first poison gases to be used as a weapon, as early as the First World War.  

Jobar has been the focus of regime forces because of its strategic location, just to the west of Abassayin Square, in the heart of Damascus.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.