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Russia strikes Syria rebels following 'chlorine' attack: defence ministry

Russia said it destroyed rebel targets in Aleppo [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 November, 2018

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The Russian Defence Ministry said its fighter jets launched airstrikes on militants it held responsible for a firing shells filled with chlorine gas at the city of Aleppo.
Russia bombed Syrian rebels it accused of carrying out a chlorine attack the previous day, authorities confirmed on Sunday.

The Russian Defence Ministry said its fighter jets launched airstrikes on militants it held responsible for a firing shells filled with chlorine gas at the city of Aleppo, Russian news agencies reported.

"Airstrikes were carried out by Russian air force planes," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in comments reported by TASS state news agency, adding that "as a result of the strikes, all of the rebel fighter targets were destroyed." 

Around 100 Syrians were hospitalised from "breathing difficulties, after "toxic gas" hit a regime-held area of western Aleppo on Saturday night.

Syrian government media also accused rebels of firing shells with chlorine gas at the regime-held town in Aleppo province, with the opposition denying the claims, alleging that the regime gas was accidentally released in the area.

"We at the National Liberation Front (rebel group) deny the criminal, lying regime's allegations that revolutionaries targeted the city of Aleppo with any missiles and especially not any containing chlorine gas," it said.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance and the al-Qaeda-linked Hurras al-Deen group operate in the area, neither of whom have commented on the alleged attack.

State news agency SANA reported "107 cases of breathing difficulties" in an updated toll on Sunday, after two shells reportedly hit the areas in western Aleppo.

Government health official Ziad Hajj Taha said it was a "probable" chlorine attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 94 people were hospitalised in al-Khalidiye, but most had been discharged and the 31 cases that remained were not critical.

Russia accused Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants of firing the chemicals at the town, at first claiming 12 were killed in the attack before lowering the death toll to zero.

Earlier this week, Russian and regime media said that rebels were preparing to launch gas attacks. Similar claims have taken place before regime chemical attacks on opposition areas.

Over the course of Syria's seven-year war, international human rights groups have repeatedly accused belligerents - especially the regime - of carrying out chemical attacks.

The conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions, according to the Observatory.

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