The White Helmets, an infamous pro-opposition Syrian ‘civil defense agency’, claimed that Syrian government forces had carried out a toxic gas attack in the town of Al-Shifoniya in the Eastern Ghouta region, near the country’s capital Damascus on February 25.
Following a Regime chlorine gas attack in #Shyfuniat city in #EasternGhouta, one child was killed and widespread suffocation occurred among civilians including 2 @SyriaCivilDefe volunteers. #SaveGhouta pic.twitter.com/W2n10KGfbf
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) 25 February 2018
The Turkish state-run media outlet Anadolu Agency also quoted alleged “Duma Hospital officials” which had “confirmed” that “16 people had been poisoned in the chemical attack.” The media outlet continued claiming that government forces had “attacked Duma thrice with chlorine gas in the last two months.”
Few hours earlier on February 25, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria warned that militants opearting in Eastern Ghouta was “preparing a provocation that will involve the use of chemical weapons.”
So-called Eastern Ghouta “rebels” are members of the following radical militant groups:
- Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formelry Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda);
- Faylaq al-Rahman, the main Hayat Tahrir al-Sham ally in the region, which had received BGM-71 TOW missiles under the US assistance program;
- Ahrar al-Sham, a radical Islamist group. It is one of the main competitors of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the province of Idlib. Nonethless, its Eastern Ghouta branch cooperates with local forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham;
- Jaish al-Islam, a radical Islamist group, backed up by Saudi Arabia and some other states of the US-led block.