Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 March 2018

Fresh chemical attack in Syria reported as Trump considers military action

Late on Monday night, media groups and Twitter activists began claiming that there had been another gas assault

Fresh reports of another chlorine gas attack are emerging from Eastern Ghouta in Syria, after another day of heavy bombardment by the Assad regime and accounts of 89 people killed in the area.

Just around 11pm local time on Monday night, activists on Twitter and a media centre in the city of Hamorouria began reporting another chemical attack by the Assad regime forces in the area.

The Hamorouria media centre reported 30 casualties – 28 of them women and children – who were evacuated “following an attack by regime forces using chlorine gas in the residential part of the city”, a Facebook post read:

Shortly after, Mohamad Katoub of the Syrian American Medical Society, tweeted “that 6 children, 4 women and 2 men were reported to be contaminated by a chlorine attack in Hamorieh in chlorine tonight. All victims arrived with moderate symptoms, and no fatality was reported”

Neither the HMC nor Sams reported fatalities from the attack, but the media centre described cases of asphyxiation.

News of another chlorine gas attack, the fourth suspected in Eastern Ghouta this year and eighth in Syria during the civil war, comes on one of deadliest days in the conflict.

Sams reported that 89 people were killed today, with the highest death toll of 21 coming from the town of Kafr Batna.

However, a United Nations aid convoy was allowed to enter Eastern Ghouta today, although there were conflicting reports emerging that some of the deliveries were taken by forces loyal to the Assad regime.

If the attack is proven, it comes at a tricky time for the debate in Washington. On Monday, the Washington Post reported that “the Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing chemical weapons use.”

Such action would come, if decided by the US president, in the form of punitive airstrikes against the Assad regime similar to those carried last April by on Shayret airbase near Homs.

The newspaper quote US officials saying that President Donald Trump had “requested options for punishing the Assad government following reported chlorine gas attacks” and that he “discussed potential actions early last week at a White House meeting that included Chief of Staff John Kelly, national security adviser HR McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.”