Reports: Dozens killed in gas attack in Syria

  The attack coincides with a visit to Damascus by a United Nations team of chemical weapons experts [Reuters]

Two pro-opposition groups say government forces fired “rockets with poisonous gas heads” near Damascus, killing dozens.

Two Syrian pro-opposition groups are claiming that government forces carried out a “poisonous gas” attack near the capital Damascus, leaving dozens of people dead, the Associated Press news agency has reported.

The two groups quote activists as saying that regime forces fired “rockets with poisonous gas heads” in the alleged attack early on Wednesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the shelling was intense and hit the eastern suburbs of Zamalka, Arbeen and Ein Tarma.

It says “tens of people” were killed, while the Local Coordination Committees said hundreds of people were killed or injured in the shelling.

Such different figures are common in the immediate aftermaths of attacks in Syria. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

The death toll was collated from medical centres in the region, Bayan Baker, a nurse at Douma Emergency Collection facility said.

Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from neighbouring Jordan, said there were videos allegedly showing both children and adults in field hospitals, some of them suffocating, coughing and sweating.

“We have been receiving reports that the doctors in the field hospitals do not have the right medication to treat these cases and that they were treating people with vinegar and water,” she said.

The attack coincides with a visit to Damascus by a United Nations team of chemical weapons experts.

The Syrian government rejected the allegations as “baseless”, according to the state-run SANA news agency.

“It is an attempt to prevent the UN commission of inquiry from carrying out its mission,” SANA said.

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