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Syrian Forces Bombard Eastern Ghouta with Chemical Weapons for the Fourth Consecutive Time since the Beginning of 2018

March 15, 2018

By Syrian Archive

Translations: Русский

The following report is a joint investigation between Syrians for Truth and Justice and the Syrian Archive. The Arabic version of this report can be found here.


Despite the repeated warnings by the international community for the Syrian government not to use chemical weapons during the war in Syria, governments forces attacked al-Shefonia town with chemical weapons on February 25, 2018, which is the fourth consecutive chemical attack since the beginning of 2018 on the besieged Eastern Ghouta – Damascus countryside. The recent targeting resulted in many injuries among civilians and the death of at least two children, which reinforces the fact that using chemical weapons appears to be a systematic policy pursued by the Syrian government during its ongoing battles. The first attack in 2018 occurred in the area between Douma and Harasta in Damascus Ghouta on January 13, 2018, the second attack took place on January 22, 2018 in the north-western area of ​​Douma, and the third attack took place on February 1, 2018 in Douma as well.

On March 7, 2018, the field researcher of STJ in Eastern Ghouta reported that the area between Saqba and Hamoryah was subjected to a chemical attack (the fifth since the beginning of 2018), which resulted in scores of casualties according to the researcher. STJ is now conducting the necessary investigations and will publish a special report in this regard as soon as it is finished.

Fourth Attack Details:

At 6 pm on Sunday February 25 2018, al-Shefonia town, Eastern Ghouta, with some 230 families, was targeted with toxic gas, which has led to many casualties among civilians, noting that the closest line of fighting between the Syrian government and the opposition factions was at the time about 2 kilometres away from the town of al-Shefonia.

On the same day, The Russian Ministry of Defense published a briefing on Syria stating: “Evidence has shown that the leaders of illegal armed formations in the Eastern Ghouta are preparing a provocation using poisonous agents in order to accuse the government forces of using chemical weapons against civilians.”

A map illustrates the targeted area, east of Eastern Ghouta, and shows the distribution of areas controlled by opposition factions as of the date of the attack

A map illustrates the targeted area, east of Eastern Ghouta, and shows the distribution of areas controlled by opposition factions as of the date of the attack

Muhammad Ataya, a resident of al-Shefonia town, spoke to STJ saying:

“Following the intense and unprecedented bombardment on Eastern Ghouta cities and towns, I went down with my family to one of the cellars in al-Jamieat area in al-Shefonia town, in search of a haven safer from our house. There was a helicopter flying over our heads, it threw a barrel, which started to fall making a very loud sound, but when it hit the ground, we didn’t hear any sound of it which is unusual, we thought that it didn’t explode. Then we, my family and I, started to inhale a strong and strange smell, following which I blacked out, and fainted. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a medical centre.”

An image shows a number of people affected by the poisonous gas attack in the al-Shefonia town.
Photo credit: Douma Coordination.

Kumait Agency published a video showing injured men and a child being treated as a result of the chlorine attack.

The impact of the poisonous gas was so strong because it was concentrated, and many of the injured lost consciousness, according to the testimony STJ received from the survivor Muhammad Ataya who continued by saying:

“Even when I regained consciousness, my situation did not stabilize, as I suffered from severe headache with shortness of breath for long hours”

The same day of the attack, the reporter Yaser Aldoumani published a video showing a dead child with a blue cover with “25/02/2018 al-Shefonia as a result of chlorine gas” written on it. The video also shows injured children and men being treated in a medical facility as a result of the alleged chlorine attack.

The Damaski agency has posted video footage on its Facebook page, showed the body of a child who died as a result of the attack.

An image of a child who died as a result of targeting al-Shefonia town with poisonous gas
Photo credit: Douma Coordination.

Damaski media agency published a video showing the director of Damaski news agency, Yousef Albostany. He said: “25-02-2018 on Sunday, we are in eastern Ghouta which was targeted by the Assad forces with chemical gas. This child was killed today as a result of the chemical gas attack. We don’t know if it’s the chlorine gas or another one. There are many other civilian injured as well including women, men and children.”

Other photos about this incident were published by Damaski media agency on their Twitter account.

STJ has met Nizar Balla, one of the ambulance volunteer members, who told us that the Syrian government targeted every living thing that moved in the town of al-Shefonia, which was turned into a ghost town, as its alleys were empty of people, and most of its roads were blocked with the rubble of the destroyed houses being shelled with missiles and rockets. Nizar said:

“We have received several reports from civilians about targeting al-Shefonia town with toxic gas. So we immediately rushed to the scene, where we have faced many difficulties as two paramedics were suffocated and severely dizzy after inhaling poisonous gas, we aid them and as many injured civilians as we can. Unfortunately we couldn’t reach all the injured fast enough due to the intensification of the shelling on the area and the blockage of most of the roads inside the town of al-Shefonia because of rubble, which caused our delay in helping many cases “.

Two paramedics who were exposed to toxic gas
Photo credit: Douma coordination.

Medical centres in the region received 18 injured civilian, including 6 women, 4 children, and 6 men, and a dead four-year-old child named Adnan al-Smadey.

Dr. Saeed Hanafi, a medical centre staff member in Douma, said to STJ:

“We have received several cases of suffocation of civilians, who had been exposed to a poisonous gas. Their clothes smelled of very strong chlorine odor. There was a child among the injured whom we couldn’t save because he was in the centre of the targeted area the time of the attack. Kids his age can’t take high concentration of toxic gas, which we initially suspected to have involved chlorine, as the child’s features and face indicate that he was suffocated, in spite of the presence of some scares resulted from the falling rubble but they were minor and has nothing to do with his death. “

Another child named called Ahmad al-Ahmad, 10 months old, died on the morning of 1 March 2018 of dyspnea. Dr. Saeed goes on to say:

“The injured who were taken to medical points had a chlorine-like odor, they suffered from dyspnea and the irritation of bronchus and conjunctiva. We put the injured on nebulizer and oxygen devices until they got better and they have been under medical observation for 24 hours.”

Image shows the child Ahmad al-Ahmad who later died of a severe dyspnea with other symptoms after being exposed to chlorine gas
Photo credit: SAMS

An image shows a statement issued by Damascus and Damascus Rural Health Directorate in which it release the cause of the death of Ahmad al-Ahmad with severe dyspnea after exposure to chlorine gas-laden missiles.
Photo credit: Damascus and Damascus Rural Health Directorate.

According to STJ field researcher, the bombing rate increased dramatically after the adoption of Security Council’s Resolution No. 2401. Al-Shefonia was the most shelled town, where it was subjected to a non-stop airstrikes. The Syrian government was following scorched-earth policy, where it bombed the town with chemical weapons (rocket or barrel bombs according to the obtained testimonies) and returned to bombard it again with dozens of missiles, which was the reason for the delayed arrival of the ambulance after the attack.

Syrian Archive is a open source platform that collects, curates, verifies, and preserves visual documentation of human rights violations in #Syria | Twitter: @syrian_archive

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  1. Stewart

    Complete garbage what reason would they have to use chemical weapons knowing all the condemnation they would receive and considering they have as good as taken Ghouta it is only a matter of a short time . Obvious lies and false flag

    • Robert Humiston

      Yes, your response is total garbage….Every single time there is a gas attack on syrians – the claim of false flag is thrown out! If you were going to do a false flag, you would not keep repeating the claim that asssad did over and over! What about the other 30 or more gas attacks…The reason asssad is doing it, is because his forces are spread thin! He also needs to show his iranian masters that he can win without them as he does his generals….who would see an asssad a puppet of iran…and would likely do a coup against him. Assssad can’t even get syrians to fight for him. That is why he needs shia iran, shia pakistani, shia afghani, shia iraqi, and shia hasbullah to fight for him!

  2. Erasmus Roteroda

    Is that “Muhammad Ataya” a member of the US terror listed organization ‘Osbat al-Ansar’ who was previously jailed in Lebanon? He’s even quoted as as their first hand witness to this? They even called him a “resident”! WOW!

  3. Robert Humiston

    Seems to me the author of this article researched it, Documented with links sources, provided supporting documentation, and provided conclusion. If you do not agree with it, that is your choice. If you are going to call it garbage, again your choice, but none of the comments – actually provided a “con” argument,,,except for a general “fall back” on false flag. Which seems to be the same argument on every single attacked where evidence points to assad.

    • Mad Dog

      There are always the shills standing on the wayside waiting to discredit anything like this. Why? Gee, who knows what goes through the mind of that thug Assad. Why did he have his forces fire on peaceable demonstrators in the first place, starting this whole mess, why does he continue to target civilians in besieged areas, why are all medical facilities targeted? Gee, and you wonder (I am sure you don’t really) why the Assad forces would do anything like this? Bwa ha ha!

  4. T Lewis

    DIRECTORATEOFHEALTH.NET is a fake organisation with a fake facebook site. Just check the registration of the domain. The Interim government is also a fake one, it is, a well known salfaist group. This is not journalism at all. The document shown abowe has in the metadata trace of photoshop 3.0.

    jaishalislam was created in September 2013 by the family Allouche in the mode of a gang imposing its law on merchants of the Ghouta, not hesitating to publicly execute those who challenged their power. Mohammed Allouche head the group presently. He created the Unified Judicial Council, which imposed the Saudi version of Sharia law on all Ghouta residents. He notably organized executions of homosexuals, thrown from the roof of buildings. He represents the group at the UN negotiations in Geneva.

    • Mad Dog

      This is so funny as it must be a full court press by the Assad thugs. This post can be found on the web in strikingly similar form on many different forums, so someone is being a good little troll. And of course, all of the above evidence is just faked. Brilliant how these ‘jihadists’ can fool everyone including the victims. Assad thugs are really working overtime!

  5. Billy Bostickson

    This “investigation” has now been proved to be a tissue of lies.

    Even the BBC admit it

    (come on, call the BBC a pro-Assad, pro-Kremlin troll factory ;:)

    Syria war: Air strike on besieged Eastern Ghouta ‘not chlorine’
    7 March 2018
    Medics in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area of Syria say an attack on Sunday initially suspected to have involved chlorine did not use toxic gas.

    Several people were treated with breathing problems following government air strikes and shelling just hours after a UN aid envoy left the enclave.

    Syria had denied initial allegations that it carried out a chemical attack.

    The symptoms were later linked to a rocket that failed to fully explode but “emitted irritating substances”.

    “Findings show that a basement was targeted by a rocket … whose impact caused a minor explosion sound,” Syria’s opposition directorate of health for Damascus said in a statement, adding that the substances emitted caused “coughing, red eyes and throat congestion”.

    • Eliot Higgins

      The BBC article is referring to allegations of an attack on March 5th, this article refers to the Feb 25th attack.

  6. Billy Bostickson

    I was referring to the fifth attack mentioned:

    “On March 7, 2018, the field researcher of STJ in Eastern Ghouta reported that the area between Saqba and Hamoryah was subjected to a chemical attack (the fifth since the beginning of 2018), which resulted in scores of casualties according to the researcher. STJ is now conducting the necessary investigations and will publish a special report in this regard as soon as it is finished. ”

    But, that said, I take your point, and I’m sure you will publish an update to clarify the above statement?

  7. Amrito

    How difficult would it be to send a small drone into the suspected gas attack zone and take air samples and then return to base undetected. Confirming the presence of chemicals like chlorine would so simple in an air sample.

    Those who claim innocence can prove it with their drones. And vice versa.

  8. tomakrypodari

    Seems ridiculous to me that all reports are gathered by people who seem to be operating freely in a Jaish al-Islam held area and still be considered 100% reliable.

    As far as I know Ghouta has been controlled by Hayiat Tahrir al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra), Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-sham and Jaish al-Islam…
    …which makes it one of the least-pro independent journalism areas to work in…

    Nevermind that some of these organizations have been explicitly accused of use of chemical weapons themselves and using people as human shields by reputable NGOs (Amnesty International, regarding rebel actions in Aleppo), they are still being portrayed as generally “moderates”, especially Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam; a full-blown jihadi organization in rhetoric and action.

    Since this is an open-investigation site (with dubious credibility regarding general policy, but still) I don’t find useful the reprinting, more or less, and unquestioned acceptance of third-party “investigations”.
    ..unless they are a priori considered reliable, for some reason…

    Myself I find it highly problematic that the most prominent chemical attacks (none of the rebel-related made news in mainstream media) happened whenever it made no sense for the syrian regime to use them, and every sense for the syrian opposition to frame saa for it.
    – when US had declared a red-line for military intervention
    – after a failed rebel-push towards Hama, that allowed saa to push northwards
    – after the fateful surrender/defeat of all rebel groups in Ghouta, this being only a matter of time
    – during heightened rhetoric by France about possible involvement (and during Mohammad Bin Salman al-Saud tour involving billions of deals) which reminds the media campaign of France supposedly taking the upper hand in fighting Gaddafi (with the vast majority of strikes being carried out by NATO jets)…
    …e.g. a ridiculous instance of multi-party approach by US in world affairs after the Iraq experience; that is, seeking multiple legitimacy for “quick” /R2Protect actions…
    – When Bashar al-Assad has effectively won the war and made himself a necessary interlocutor for world-powers for any future negotiation for Syria.

    …honestly this seems to me orchestrated by the likes of MBS (sic) of Saudi Arabia…and that man is full of money and empty on brains…
    ….so eager to fulfill a “strong-man” for the US role, that ends up displaying his amateurish thinking
    …one can see his repeated blunders
    – anti-Qatar campaign
    – Hariri-abduction and attempt to force EU/USA to destabilize Lebanon to curb Hezbollah influence
    – and now this….

    The sad part is that
    – for Americans, both Dems and Reps, Trump “becomes president/presidential” when he bombs other countries (despite former fears about a mad-man having US military under his control)
    – A full-blown extreme of the extreme anti-Iran/Russia group is forming around the president (and Cheney/Bush are now held in high regard again…I mean they opposed Trump, by doing so they are part of the “Resistance”)
    – US/Gulf/UK/France (most among EU countries) have failed in their Syria campaign and are now getting Desperate.

    Just plain awful for the people who got killed…

    …but Saudi Arabia (who had promised to fund an invasion of Iran) will come to their rescue, declaring it is “present” in the battle against “Nazi”-Iran and their allies.

    What a disgrace…but a worthy picture of Western Media and Policy
    – denouncing attacks on civilians
    – while courting Saudi Arabia….an ISIS funder per US documents and supporter of militant, anti-Western Islam
    – while the Yemen tragedy is going on…


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