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Syria Kurds accuse rebels
of toxic gas attack

Jaysh al-Islam admitted that one of its commanders used an unsanctioned weapon during the assault on Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud.

Sheikh Maqsoud shelling. (YouTube)

BEIRUT - Kurds in Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud have accused rebels of conducting a toxic gas attack on the under-fire quarter, while Jaysh al-Islam announced that one of its commanders authorized the use of an unsanctioned weapon.

 

“Activists in the neighborhood accused Islamist factions of firing munitions containing gases, leading to the injury of four people, including two fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG),” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday.

 

The YPG has yet to issue an official statement on the matter, however a media outlet affiliated with the fighting force claimed that insurgents fired “poison gas” into the neighborhood, which has come under indiscriminate rebel bombardment since Tuesday morning that has led to the death of over a dozen civilians.

 

“Mercenaries… bombed the neighborhood with poison gas… leading to cases of poisoning and suffocation among residents,” the ANHA news agency reported Thursday afternoon.

 

Meanwhile, a doctor in the local Kurdish Red Crescent said that four people were treated for cases of suffocation “due to the use of toxic gases and chemicals.”

 

“We treated the injured within the limited [resources] available in the Red Crescent facility; we don’t know the type of toxic material [uses] because there are no experts to conduct analysis on the substance,” Walat Mamo told ANHA.

 

A video purports to show Thursday's toxic gas attack. (YouTube)

 

A video circulated social media of a yellow-tinged smoke plume rising over Sheikh Maqsoud amid the shelling, while another video showed a YPG fighter and other young men receiving oxygen treatment as they struggled to breathe.

 

Toxic Gas

A screengrab from a video purporting to show victims of Thursday's alleged toxic gas attack. (YouTube)

 

Jaysh al-Islam, one of the groups fighting the YPG around Sheikh Maqsoud, announced Thursday that it was starting launching judicial proceedings against one of its commanders for using unsanctioned weapons.

 

“One of Jaysh al-Islam’s field commanders in Aleppo used weapons unauthorized for use in this type of confrontation, a violation of Jaish al-Islam’s internal regulations,” the group said in a statement.

 

However, Jaysh al-Islam would not reveal which “unauthorized” weapon had been used, while stressing that it “concerned for the lives of civilians that we pledged to protect since the beginning of the revolution.”   

 

Rebel factions in Aleppo launched a fierce assault on Sheikh Maqsoud on Tuesday at dawn, killing at least 14 people in the latest round of worsening fighting between the YPG and opposition groups.

 

Tensions have ratcheted up between the YPG and armed opposition groups in and around Aleppo after Kurdish troops in February rolled back anti-Syrian regime rebels from a number of their positions in a thin corridor of territory north of Aleppo near the Turkish border.

 

Syrian rebel groups have accused the YPG of coordinating its offensives with Damascus at the expense of the "revolution," while the Kurds and their allies insist they are "rescuing" villages from Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.

 

The YPG in mid-February launched a campaign from Sheikh Maqsoud in a bid to seize control of the nearby Castello Highway, the only road between Aleppo and the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

 

Also known as "Death Road," the Castello Highway spans the northern edges of Aleppo. Since regime forces cut off rebel supply lines leading southward into the city from Turkey, the dangerous thoroughfare has served as the only supply line into its rebel-held western sectors.

 

NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report.

A screengrab from a video purporting to show Thursday's toxic gas attack. (YouTube)

Mercenaries… bombed the neighborhood with poison gas… leading to cases of poisoning and suffocation among residents.