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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Rebels accuse Syrian army of chlorine attack

The Failaq al-Rahman group said more than 30 people suffered suffocation as a result of the attack in Ain Tarma in the Eastern Ghouta region, which government forces have been battling to take back from insurgents.

Syrian children, who fled their homes in Ghouta's al-Marj town, play amidst the debris of buildings in the town of al-Nashabiyah in the eastern Ghouta region, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY
Syrian children, who fled their homes in Ghouta's al-Marj town, play amidst the debris of buildings in the town of al-Nashabiyah in the eastern Ghouta region, a rebel stronghold east of the capital Damascus on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY

BEIRUT // A Syrian rebel group accused the Syrian army of using chlorine gas against its fighters on Saturday in battles east of Damascus.

The Syrian military swiftly denied the claims as a fabrication.

The Failaq Al Rahman group said more than 30 people suffered suffocation as a result of the attack in Ain Tarma in the Eastern Ghouta region, which government forces have been battling to take back from insurgents.

A military source said the army command completely denied the accusation. "It has not used any chemical weapons in the past, and will not use them at any time".

The US said on Wednesday the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad appeared so far to have heeded a warning issued earlier in the week not to carry out a chemical weapons attack after saying it saw possible preparations for one.

regional and western governments said the Syrian government was behind an April gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens. In response, the US fired cruise missiles at the air base from which it said the attack was launched.

The Syrian government has denied any role in that attack.

On Saturday the government also dismissed a report by the international chemical weapons watchdog that said the banned nerve agent sarin was used in the April attack in Khan Sheikhoun, saying it lacked "any credibility".

A joint United Nations and OPCW investigation has found Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that ISIL militants used mustard gas.

*Reuters