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500 Syrians had chemical attack symptoms: WHO

IANS  |  Geneva 

The (WHO) on Wednesday said an estimated 500 people went to health facilities with "signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals" after the attack on the rebel-held town of in at the weekend.

It also demanded "unhindered access" to in The denies any use of weapons, reported.

"WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts and to deliver a comprehensive public health response," Peter Salama, the agency's for emergency preparedness and response, said in a statement issued in

The US has threatened a "forceful" response to reports of an attack but has called this a "pretext" to attack its ally.

cited reports that 70 people were killed in the attack. It said its "health cluster" partners reported that 500 people had suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals, including difficulty breathing, of mucous membranes, and disruption to the central nervous system.

"Two health facilities were also reportedly affected by these attacks," statement added.

Syrian activists, rescue workers and medics alleged that the attack on was carried out by government forces using bombs filled with

The attack appeared to have prompted a surrender deal the following day by local rebels. Jaysh al-Islam, the dominant group in Douma, agreed to leave the town along with thousands of civilians for northern Syria, after weeks of saying they had no intention of agreeing to a deal, the daily said.

Since then, thousands of the estimated 100,000 people still living in Douma have left on buses heading north. More were expected to leave on Wednesday.

Douma was the last holdout in eastern Ghouta after other rebel groups agreed to leave other parts of the region, which has been under siege for years and subjected to multiple attacks in the past.

UN for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad said the world must react to the use of weapons or risk dire consequences.

"After decades when we thought we had successfully outlawed the use of chemical and biological weapons, the world is sitting idly by while their use is becoming normalised in Syria," said

The French at the said had deliberately been used as it could seep down to the basements, the reported.

Following the alleged attack, and reached an evacuation deal with the rebels, who up until now have been holding Douma.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, April 11 2018. 18:16 IST