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The New Arab

Syria regime has 'dedicated helicopter team for chemical attacks in East Ghouta'

Syria's regime has been accused of using chlorine gas against civilians in Eastern Ghouta [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 March, 2018

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The Syrian military has a team dedicated to carrying out chemical attacks in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region, according to a news report from an opposition-aligned website.



The Syrian military has a team dedicated to carrying out chemical attacks in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region, according to a local news report.

Recent chlorine gas attacks on the war-ravaged Damascus suburb have been under the direct supervision of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, news website Zaman al-Wasl  said on Sunday.

A source told the pro-rebel outlet that two MI-17 helicopters with a trusted crew from the air forces' 54th Brigade have launched chemical strikes on the rebel-held enclave in Ghouta.

During sorties the helicopters, which allegedly take off from the Mezzeh and Beli military airports, carry two barrel bombs loaded with 500 kg of explosives and a cylinder of Chlorine, according to the source.

Syria's regime has been accused of using chlorine gas against civilians in Eastern Ghouta in recent weeks.

The report comes as United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday it would be "very unwise" for the Syrian regime to use gas as a weapon.

"We have made it very clear that it would be very unwise to use gas against people, civilians on any battlefield," Mattis told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Oman.

Mattis said he was aware of "an awful lot of reports about chlorine gas use or about symptoms that could be resulting from chlorine gas," but indicated he did not have conclusive evidence.

US President Donald Trump last April ordered a missile strike against a regime airbase at Shayrat, after Washington said it used the facility to launch a sarin nerve gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun, killing scores of civilians.

The use of chlorine as a weapon is banned under international law and Russia was supposed to oversee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

The fact that Assad may still have chemical weapons shows "either Russia is incompetent or in cahoots with Assad," Mattis said.

Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition-controlled pocket near Damascus. For nearly three weeks, regime forces have pounded it in an assault that has killed over 1,000 civilians.

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