17 March 2015, Lagos – At least 19 people were killed in several villages and towns in northwestern Syria after government forces launched barrel and gas attacks, activists and monitoring groups said.
Three children, their mother and father, and their grandmother suffocated to death after the barrel bomb attack in the town of Sarmin in southeast Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
The Britain-based monitoring group told AFP news agency that doctors in Sarmin concluded that the manner of death indicated a gas, possibly chlorine, had been emitted from the barrel bombs.
Sarmin’s local coordinating committee, an activist group, said chlorine gas had been used and published photos of a chaotic field hospital where disoriented victims coughed and held gas masks over their faces.
It also posted videos of the pale bodies of the three children apparently killed in the attack. They appeared to have been no older than 5 and had dark circles around their eyes.
The Syrian government has been accused of using chlorine – a toxic agent that can be considered a chemical weapon – on civilian areas in the past.
It has also been criticised by rights groups for using barrel bombs, crudely constructed weapons packed with explosives and typically dropped by helicopter.
Ibrahim al-Idlibi, an activist from the area, confirmed that six civilians had died of suffocation after two rounds of barrel bombs were dropped on the village.
He told AFP that local doctors had not yet specified what the gas was.
In early March, the UN Security Council adopted a US-drafted resolution condemning the use of chlorine in Syria and threatening measures if chemicals are used in future attacks.