The U.S. State Department said it was looking into the reported use of chemical weapons in Saraqeb, Syria, which took place on August 2 (Reuters)."I’m not in a position to confirm the veracity of (the reports)," said spokesman John Kirby. “Certainly, if it’s true, it would be extremely serious.”
A Syrian rescue service operating in rebel-held territory said on Tuesday a helicopter dropped containers of toxic gas overnight on a town close to where a Russian military helicopter had been shot down on Tuesday. The opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) accused President Bashar al-Assad of being behind the attack. Assad has denied previous accusations of using chemical weapons.
A spokesman for the Syria Civil Defence said 33 people, mostly women and children, were affected by the gas, which they suspect was chlorine, in Saraqeb, in rebel-held Idlib province. The group, which describes itself as a neutral band of search and rescue volunteers, posted a video on YouTube apparently showing a number of men struggling to breathe and being given oxygen masks by people in civil defense uniforms. "Medium-sized barrels fell containing toxic gases. The Syrian Civil Defence was not able to determine the type of the gas," said the spokesman.
The Syrian government and its Russian allies were not immediately available for comment.