Pre-dawn chemical weapon strikes on a number of Damascus suburbs have left over 1300 people dead as the regime barraged the areas with artillery and missiles, activists reported Wednesday morning.
The Local Coordination Committees said that at least 1300 civilians were killed in "poison gas strikes" in the Ain Tarma and Zamalka areas of the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus as well as in Moadamiyeh [southwest of the capital].”
The LCC further reported that most of the casualties were women and children, adding that "the death toll is rising due to lack of medical personnel and equipment to treat victims.”
The report specified that “400 martyrs fell in Zamalka, 300 in Hamouriyeh, 150 in Douma, 150 in Kafr Batna, 75 in Ain Tarma, 105 in Moadamiyeh and Daraya, 69 in Seqba, 63 in Irbin, 16 in Jisreen, and 5 in Harasta," most of which are areas held by rebels fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The Syrian Support Group, a Washington-based organization that advocates for increased support for the Supreme Military Command of the FSA, told NOW that the women and children were sleeping when the attack occurred, and that most of the victims therefore suffocated to death.
The SSG also reported that the concentrated sarin gas was delivered to the suburbs via four Grad missiles.
However, the Syrian regime denied having used chemical arms in eastern Damascus.
"Reports on the use of chemical weapons in [the suburbs of] Ghouta are totally false," state news agency SANA said.
It dismissed as "unfounded" the reports from opposition activists carried by Al-Jazeera, Sky and other satellite news channels "which are implicated in the shedding of Syrian blood and support terrorism."
A series of graphic videos and images uploaded by activists showed dead children and frantic scenes at field hospitals following the alleged chemical attack.
One chilling video uploaded to YouTube shows the corpses of a number of children and corpses bearing no sign of physical injury inside a building purportedly in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus as the narrator explains that an entire family died due to “shelling with chemical substances.”
Another two videos allegedly filmed in Moadamiya shows grieving residents inside a building looking at corpses and attending to people lying on the ground struggling to breathe.
In yet another video, a doctor attends to a small child struggling to breathe and says the victim’s symptoms “are a clear indication of being exposed to Sarin gas.”
The alleged chemical strike comes as a team of UN inspectors on Monday began a 14-day mission to visit three sites that had reportedly witnessed past chemical strikes.
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon on Monday called for the inspectors to be granted unrestricted access to sites in Syria where chemical weapons had purportedly been used.
Amid the purported regime gas strike, activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that government forces were also shelling the afflicted areas, leaving at least 100 people dead.
SNN said that the Damascus area of Jobar had been shelled by over 100 rockets while two air raids were held over eastern Damascus.
The activists added that heavy artillery fire from batteries stationed on Damascus' northern Mount Qasioun also targeted eastern suburbs of the capital.
Amid the shelling, regime forces were massing to raid the Jobar and Moadamiya areas outside Damascus, SNN also said.
Activists also reported that surface-to-surface missiles had been striking the Jobar area of Damascus.
Hezbollah's Al-Manar television reported that Syrian regime forces had begun a "wide military operation" in the Damascus district.