Examining the Chemical Attack in Sukkari District in Aleppo, September 6th 2016
On September 6th 2016, videos and photographs posted to social media channels of the Civil Defense Team in Aleppo, Aleppo Media Center, “Basel Aslan” Hospital, Smart News Agency, and Qasioun News Agency alleged the use of a chlorine barrel bomb by the Syrian government in Aleppo in an area called Sukkari, which resulted in a number of casualties.
In this article we will examine videos and other open source materials that were shared online to understand as many details as possible about what happened in this incident. The materials show rescue efforts after the attack, victims, and the debris of the munition used.
The Syrian Archive, a platform that collects, curates and verifies visual documentation of human rights violations has collected and analyzed 9 videos related to this incident. Details on some of the videos are below:
Victims Being Rescued and Treated
Al Quds hospital which treated the victims posted the following statement and images on its facebook page about the alleged chemical attack in Al Sukkari district.
80 victims were taken to Basel Aslan hospital as a result of the chlorine gas attack by the regime on the Skukkari district in Aleppo
The below video from the White Helmet’s team in Aleppo shows them rescuing civilians and transferring them to the hospital where they are washed. At 0:28 one of the rescuer said that they found the individual in the video and he smelled chlorine. Then we see civilians being treated in Al-Quds hospital including children.
Another video was published by Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American activist-journalist who was only a few blocks from the impact site. He was also rescuing people and transferring them to the nearest hospital. The video was posted on OGN channel on YouTube.
Another video published by Smart News Agency showing civilians being washed and treated in the hospital as a result of the chemical attack. In 0:09 one man said that he found one of the victims and smelled chlorine.
Another video from the Aleppo Media Center shows civilians being treated in Al-Quds hospital as a result of the same chemical attack. We see the same doctor from a previous video treating one of the affected civilian.
Another video from Sana Aleppo Revolution shows children being treated in a hospital as a result of the chemical attack.
The below video shows one of the victims of the attack receiving treatment from the same doctor.
A similar video but from different angle was published by from Step News Agency showing men being treated in a hospital as a result of the attack.
Below you can see images of the same doctor treating affected civilians in different videos:
We see in the video above an image behind the doctor which says: Free Aleppo Doctor Association (F.A.D.A) with the following logo:
Below are the Facebook and Twitter accounts for the FADA. Their Facebook account also published images that show victims being treated in Al Quds hospital as a result of the chemical gas attack.
We’ve directly contacted the doctor from Al-Quds hospital who appeared in most of the videos above, and he gave us the following medical report about the attack:
Below is a translation for this report into English:
The medical report of Basel Aslan hospital (Al-Quds)
About the injured people as a result of the chlorine gas attack that happened in Sukkari district in sieged Aleppo.
On Tuesday 06/09/2016 at 13:00 many ambulance and civilian cars came to the hospital carrying injured people from Al-Sukkari district.
After checking few of the injured people, it was clear to us that they are having breathing difficulties, dry cough, sneezing, vomiting, their cloths was smelling chlorine, eye tearing.
The total number of patients was 71, including 37 children and 10 women.
Number of poisoned patients that came to the hospital for a check
12 patients were treated and able to leave the hospital immediately.
22 patients were treated and able to leave the hospital after 2/4 hours.
10 were at the high emergency room, one of them had to be on aeration mechanism, and another one is pregnant and might need urgent surgery.
24 patients were accepted to the departments of internal and children.
Number of poisoned patients that were accepted to the hospital
Below 1 year
SAMS foundation also published a press release about the chemical attack in Al Sukkari district in Aleppo.
The doctor also told us that those affected in the attack were also accepted in two other hospitals; Al Zarzour hospital in Al-Ansari district in Aleppo city and Omar bin Abdul-Aziz hospital in Al-Maadi district in Aleppo.
Remnants of Munition
The below video shows remnants of the munition used. We also see the forensics team, who are wearing orange, taking the remnants of the bombs to be analysed.
One of the civilians there said: “Men, women and children were taken to the hospital as a result of the chemical attack. More than 50 people were transferred to the hospital. There are no bases for fighting groups in this area, it’s mainly inhabited by civilians.” We see in minute 01:21 an ambulance car (with Umma charity logo) going to pick affected civilians to the hospital.
Another video published by the Aleppo forensics team on their Facebook page showing remnants of the bombs including the gas. Notably, the gas cylinders recovered from this attack appear to be identical to the type recovered from the scene of another alleged chlorine barrel bomb attack in Aleppo on August 10th 2016.
Interviews and Witness Testimonies
Below are three videos showing interviews with civilians who were close to the attack site:
My house is near here, I heard that there was an attack close by so I came here from my house. There were three injured people. I saw the barrel bomb which exploded, I also saw the gas cylinders. There was a very ugly smell. They transferred many people to the hospitals from here.
The regime is attacking us with chemical gas so we leave the city of Aleppo after it’s being sieged by government forces.
I woke this morning to hear that this area was attacked by chlorine gas. This is a civilian area, it’s not the clashed area neither the frontlines. Even animals died from suffocation of this chemical gas.
The shelling was the result of the destruction that you can see here. People including children were having breathing difficulties. This is mainly a civilian area, there’s not a military base here.
Based on the above information it seems highly likely that the above attack was yet another chlorine barrel bomb attack, with many similarities to previous chlorine barrel bomb attacks linked to the Syrian government the OPCW/UN investigations. The smell of chlorine is mentioned multiple times, and the remains of the munition are consistent with other chlorine barrel bomb attacks. It is also notable that the gas cylinders used are of the same type seen in the August 10th 2016 chlorine barrel bomb attack, suggesting a consistent design of chemical barrel bomb between the attacks.