Reports of Chlorine Gas That Targeted Civilians in Aleppo
On August 10th and 11th, videos and photographs posted to social media channels of the Civil Defense Team in Aleppo, Aleppo Media Center, “Basel Aslan” Hospital, and Al-An news, as well as a video report from BBC, alleged the use of chlorine barrel bomb by the Syrian government in Aleppo in an area called Zabadiyah, which resulted of civilian casualties, as well as many injured.In this article we will go through the different open source materials that were shared online to understand as much details as possible from what happened at this incident. The materials show rescue efforts after the attack, victims, and the debris of the munition used.
Below are four videos from Aleppo showing victims. The first video published by “Basel Aslan hospital” on their Facebook page. It was captured by the security cameras of the hospital and then by a video camera.
We can see the first moments when injured men, women and children started to get inside the hospital to be treated. The security camera documented the date as we see below (In red) which confirms the date of the incident.
Here you can find the full video from the hospital.
More information about the incident were posted on the hospital’s facebook page as shown below:
The second verified video from BBC was taken in the same hospital.
It included an interview with a medic at the hospital who said to BBC: “We had a number of casualties today, 30 minutes ago. A lot of them resulting from chlorine bombing on this area. When we examined these casualties, we realised it was due to chlorine. There are all ages, we have elderly people, kids, children. All ages”.
Comparing both videos from “Basel Aslan” hospital and from BBC we found matches which verify the videos were filmed in the same hospital.
Another video of rescue efforts showing victims was posted on the local YouTube channel of Aleppo Media Center. It shows the child Mouhammad who died as a result of the chlorine attack.
One of the injured was interviewed and said that: “I was going to work, then air strikes happened. The strike was chemical as we smelled gas. Children were crying, our eyes were tearing. I had breathing difficulties. Some women had breathing difficulties too. The smell was stronger than a normal gas.”
Another injured in the hospital said: “We were sitting, then we felt that a barrel bomb was dropped, We we went there to see what happened. We smelled a strong gas which was similar to chlorine which was the cause of the Zabadiyah Neighborhood families (Women, children and men) having breathing difficulties.”
The fourth video that shows victims was posted by Al-An official YouTube channel.
The reporter in the video also claims the casualties of a woman and her two children as a result of the chlorine barrel bomb. He also claims that many were injured and had breathing difficulties, and that 30 of them were children. Fuad who was interviewed in the Al-An video was one of them:
“We were targeted by barrel bomb, I couldn’t see much because of the dust. The barrel bomb appeared to contain gas as we smelled it. We were about to faint so they asked me to wash my face but it didn’t help. “
Hamza Al-Khatib who is the manager of Al-quds hospital said in an interview in the Al-An video: “We’ve mainly noticed breathing symptoms, cough, tears in the eyes
It was clear that poisoned gas was used. The smell of the victim’s clothes were very clear, it even affected the team at the hospital.”
Abu Ahmad, pharmacist from the neighborhood claims to witness the attack in the location of the photo below.
Samer Hijazi from a group that documents the use of chemical weapons attack in Aleppo said that she documented the details of 70 victims who went to the field hospital and that they are continuing to document information about others.
Remnants of the bomb
Another video was posted on the YouTube channel of the Civil Defence Team – Aleppo. It shows remnants of the barrel bomb which was used to deliver the chlorine gas.
A volunteer at the civil defense claims in the video that the barrel bomb was dropped by Syrian government helicopter. He said that one of the four barrel bombs contained the chlorine gas.
“Two children and their mother have been reported as dying as a result of this attack. 7 were injured and had breathing difficulties. As you see we are taking out the remnants of the barrel bombs that had the poisoned material so children don’t play with it.”
Photos of the children Sama, and Mohammad were shared online by Zaher Sahloul (@sahloul) who is the president of Syrian American Medical Society, SAMS.
Other photos we took from the civil defense team which shows the remnants of the barrel bombs used:
It is notable that the remains of the barrel bomb would indicate it deviates from the two designs of chemical barrel bombs previously observed in the conflict. The initial design of chlorine barrel bomb simply placed a large chlorine cylinder inside the barrel bomb casing that has been widely adopted by the Syrian air force (details here). The later design of chlorine barrel bomb was described by the OPCW, and used smaller gas cylinder and flasks containing potassium permanganate, which left distinct purple residue in the areas attacked. In this latest attack the cylinders recovered from the scene of the attack are not consistent with either design, and the outer casing of the bomb is too badly damaged to asses if it uses the same casing as other chlorine barrel bombs.
Another organisation who confirmed the attack was SAMS foundation. They published a press release about it in August 11th.
Special thanks to FocusAleppo group for helping with this article.