Medical charity MSF says 355 dead in Syria chemical attack

PARIS Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:00pm IST

Survivors from what activists say is a gas attack rest inside a mosque in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Survivors from what activists say is a gas attack rest inside a mosque in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

Related Topics

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

PARIS (Reuters) - Three hospitals near Damascus reported 355 deaths after an alleged chemical attack last Wednesday out of around 3,600 admissions with nerve gas-type symptoms, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Saturday.

The Syrian opposition has accused government forces of gassing hundreds of people on Wednesday by firing rockets that released deadly fumes into rebel-held Damascus suburbs, killing men, women and children as they slept.

Opposition estimates for the death toll have ranged from 500 to well over double that number, but, with U.N. observers unable to visit the site, there has been no independent verification.

MSF has no staff of its own in the Damascus region, but has been supporting hospitals and medical networks there since 2012.

"The reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events - characterised by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers - strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent," MSF director of operations Bart Janssens said in a statement.

"This would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, which absolutely prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons."

Janssens said MSF could not confirm the cause of the symptoms or say who was responsible for the attack, but that it had sent 7,000 vials of atropine - an antidote against nerve agents.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

RAINFALL THIS YEAR

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Election 2014

Election 2014

Thousands mob Modi as election race starts in Varanasi.  Full Article 

Monsoon Forecast

Monsoon Forecast

Met office rules out surplus monsoon in 2014.  Full Article 

Facebook's Performance

Facebook's Performance

Facebook Q1 revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads.  Full Article 

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Bharti Infratel Q4 net profit jumps 64 percent.  Full Article 

Solar Dispute

Solar Dispute

Green groups urge U.S. to drop solar trade case against India.  Full Article 

Oil Imports

Oil Imports

India to make May-July oil payments to Iran - sources.  Full Article 

Rice Exports

Rice Exports

India may cede top rice exporter spot under Southeast Asian price onslaught.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage