At least 150 people have been killed and more than 1,000 others have been injured in a chemical attack in Ghouta near the Syrian capital, medics say. A search and rescue operation is ongoing.
The attack happened at 8:20 p.m. local time on Saturday when airstrikes were carried out in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus. The exact circumstances of what happened were not immediately clear.
The White Helmets, which is a group of rescue volunteers, said a helicopter dropped a barrel bomb containing a chemical agent in the Douma area of Eastern Ghouta. It said entire families suffocated to death in nearby homes and shelters.
A search and rescue operation was ongoing on early Sunday morning, but the White Helmets said at least 150 people had been killed and more than 1,000 others have been injured or sickened. Al Jazeera and pro-rebel news outlets reported similar figures.
Footage spread on social media showed dozens of dead people, including children, who appeared to be suffering from symptoms consistent with a chemical attack. Many of the victims had white foam coming out of their mouth.
It comes just over a year after a chemical weapons attack in northwest Syria, killing at least 92 people. The U.S. and other countries attributed the attack to pro-regime forces, even though the Syrian government strongly denied any involvement. The U.S. bombed a Syrian airbase in response.
An official at the U.S. State Department called reports about Saturday’s attack “disturbing,” but it was not immediately known how the U.S. would respond. “We continue to receive reports and assess information regarding the alleged attack,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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