08/12/2016, 10.17
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Aleppo, UN opens investigation into gas use in rebel controlled neighborhoods

Staffan Mistura says if confirmed the attack constitutes a "war crime". Four people die, several patients - including children - with breathing problems. There is no certain information about the perpetrators. The Russian air raids leave Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic Caliphate in Syria, without water.

Aleppo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United Nations has opened an investigation into a poison gas attack on a neighborhood controlled by anti-Assad front, in the east of Aleppo, the city that has become a symbol of the Syrian conflict. The rebels point the finger at the government army, blaming them for the chlorine gas attack in which four people died and dozens were wounded.

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan Mistura, stresses that, if confirmed, the use of chlorine as a weapon is a "war crime". However, there are still strong doubts about the real perpetrators of the attack.

Images broadcast by the BBC show several people, including children (pictured), hospitalized with respiratory problems. Medical staff have distributed oxygen masks to men, women and children.

According to the Syrian Civil Defence, a group of volunteers involved in emergencies in areas controlled by the rebels, the gas used is chlorine. It was contained within barrel bombs that fell in the area.

De Mistura stressed that an investigation has been initiated on the matter, adding that "a lot of evidence point to the fact the attack occured”. He further added that, if confirmed, it constitutes "a war crime" that must be addressed "immediately." However, it is not yet possible to identify those responsible.

An man from Zebdieh district, hospitalized for medical treatment, reports that two missiles landed close to him while he was in the company of a group of friends. "A few minutes later - he adds – the smell of gas began to spread... My eyes began to burn and I had difficulty breathing. The stench was terrible”.

Chlorine is a chemical compound used in industrial production; but its use is banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CAC, Paris 1993).

It is not the first time that chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian conflict. In 2013 the government and rebels exchanged accusations over who was responsible for attacks with chemical agents. In previous years, the apostolic nuncio in Syria, Msgr. Mario Zenari, had lashed out against the use of chemical weapons; the prelate had also shown great appreciation for the US-Russia agreement for the handing over and destruction of chemical weapons held by Damascus.

Meanwhile, Russian air raids against the Islamic State targets continue throughout the country. In the last hours Moscow fighter jets have struck Raqqa, the so-called capital of the Islamic Caliphate in Syria, cutting off water supplies to the city.

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