Rebels say Syrian forces dropped chemicals on Douma, government denies accusation

  • Rebels say Syrian forces dropped chemicals on Douma, government denies accusation

Rebels say Syrian forces dropped chemicals on Douma, government denies accusation

Dozens of civilians were killed Friday in Eastern Ghouta when an orderly evacuation deal in the city of Douma, the last rebel-held city collapsed overnight, and the Syrian military responded with a new offensive against the area.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, says they were wounded rebels and civilians, not active Jaysh al-Islam fighters.

Regime forces have captured almost all of Ghouta with a combination of ferocious bombing raids, which started on February 18, and negotiated withdrawals.

"The bombing has not stopped". The Observatory report that eight people were killed in the blast that occurred near the town's Grand Mosque.

The regime assault has killed more than 1 600 civilians and caused tens of thousands to flee into regime-held territory.

The monitor told AFP it could not specify the reason for the symptoms, but the White Helmets rescue forces said Douma had been hit with toxic gas.

Jaish al-Islam have avoided taking part in the so-called "evacuation deals" and demanded that they be allowed to stay on in Douma as a "police force".

The daily air raids kept residents cowering in basements for weeks and a ground assault soon sliced the area into three isolated pockets, each held by different rebel factions.

A total of 2,963 militants and their families evacuated Douma in three batches over the past few days under a deal concluded between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces under a Russian mediation.

Tens of thousands of civilians also fled through humanitarian corridors opened by Russian Federation and are either already returning to their devastated neighborhoods or staying in crowded shelters.

It remains unclear exactly why the talks between Moscow and Jaish al-Islam have faltered. Another said she had been riding in a taxi when the shelling started, and the vehicle crashed head-on into a wall. The commander also said, "As far as Douma is concerned, resolving it militarily is the solution".

Others have blamed internal rebel divisions over the withdrawal process.

"The talks were going well".

The latest fatalities bring to 48 the number of civilians who have been killed in the town since Friday when the Syrian military started a major campaign on the town shattering 10 days of calm there, the Britain-based watchdog said. "There were 20 strikes in 15 minutes", Mohammed, a medic, told AFP.

The Syrian military command mentioned on Saturday it had regained a lot of the cities and villages in jap Ghouta and was urgent its army operations within the final insurgent bastion of Douma.

"The regime is trying to tighten the noose around Douma from the west, east, and south", said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Four civilians lost their lives and more than 30 others were injured after shelling attacks by Jaish al-Islam terrorists on residential neighborhoods in the capital, the official Syrian Arab News Agency said.

On Saturday, fresh artillery fire hit those fields, said the Observatory.