The United Nations Human Rights commission plans to look into reports that Syrian government forces used bombs containing chlorine gas on two Syrian towns.
Paolo Pinheiro, chair of the U.N’s commission of inquiry on Syria released a statement which read that the group had received various reports that bombs containing weaponized chlorine were detonated in the towns of Saraqeb in Idlib and in Douma in Eastern Ghouta.
“The commission remains committed to fulfilling its mandate to investigate and document all human rights violations occurring in the context of the Syrian regime armed conflict, regardless of who commits them.”
Field reports from media activists claim the bombs containing chlorine gas were launched from Syrian helicopters flying over Saraqeb.
At least three members of the volunteer rescue group, The White Helmets, were affected by the chlorine gas attack in Idlib’s Saraqeb. Videos were uploaded on many social media sites which showed men coughing and placed onto stretchers.
U.N. spokeswoman Heather Nauert encouraged the international community to place more pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to desist the use of chemical weapons:
“We implore the international community to speak with one voice, taking every opportunity to publicly pressure the Assad regime, and its supporters, to cease its use of chemical weapons.”
Meanwhile, the United States accused Russia of blocking a U.N. Security Council statement which condemned the alleged chemical attack on Idlib. Russia responded through its U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia who said the U.S. and the U.K. have resorted to “slandering Russia by spreading a mountain of lies.”
The Syrian government is backed by Russian military forces.
The town of Idlib is home to an estimated 1.1 million internally-displaced people who escaped other areas that were former strongholds of the opposition. Hundreds of thousands of residents are seeking safety and shelter at makeshift camps near the border of Turkey.
According to figures released by the U.K. based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Syrian government’s airstrikes have killed around 78 people and have injured more than 190 more civilians. The recent attacks killed 19 children and 20 women.
SOHR reports estimate that more than 350 people including 86 children and 68 women have been killed during the bomb attacks in Eastern Ghouta since 29 December.
The opposition group Syrian National Coalition greatly condemned the attack of Russian and government forces in the town of Idlib.