The Syrian government dropped barrel bombs containing what appears to be chlorine on a residential neighborhood in Aleppo on Tuesday. Although the chemical attack has not been verified by independent monitors, the respiratory problems reported by activists and residents on the ground indicate the use of chlorine gas, which is banned by international conventions. Video posted online by the White Helmets showed young children wheezing and breathing into oxygen masks. Estimates of the number injured ranged from 70 to 120.
The attack was the latest in the monthslong offensive by the Syrian government, with Russian backing, to wrest the city from rebel control. “The attack came as Syrian government loyalists battled to consolidate their hold over what had been the last rebel supply line into the opposition-held east of the city, after the capture of the route on Sunday,” the Washington Post reports. “The outcome of the battle meant that eastern Aleppo is now completely besieged for the second time in two months, and it coincided with the failure of talks between the United States and Russia for a cease-fire deal in the contested city.”
The Assad regime has used chemical weapons before in the 5-year-old civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people. “A United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inquiry seen by Reuters last month found that Syrian government forces were responsible for two toxic gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 involving chlorine,” Reuters reports.