Gas Attack in Douma, Syria
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World Health Organization 'Deeply Alarmed' By Suspected Chemical Attack In Syria

The World Health Organization say they are 'deeply alarmed' by the suspected chemical attack on the the Syrian city of Douma.

Gas Attack in Douma, Syria

Pictures of the suspected chemical attack on Douma (Image: Google).

The World Health Organization (WHO) say they are 'deeply alarmed' by the suspected chemical attack on the the Syrian city of Douma. 

WHO state that according reports from Health Cluster partners, the shelling on Saturday, left an estimated 500 patients showing signs and symptoms of being exposed to toxic chemicals.

"We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma."

WHO, the UN health agency, provide trauma care, medical supplies alongside other medical aid to more than 150 countries.

They say that patients had 'severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to central nervous systems'. 

The use of chemical weapons to cause harm is illegal under international law.

More than 70 people who sheltered in basements during the attack have reportedly died.

"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.”

WHO say that 43 of those deaths were related to symptoms consistent with exposure to 'highly toxic chemicals'. Two health facilities were also reportedly affected by these attacks.

They have now reminded parties in the conflict of their obligation to refrain from attacking medical facilities/personnel, outlined by the Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016).

Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director and General for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said:

"We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma.

"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.”

WHO are now organising the health cluster response for people who have been forced to leave their home in East Ghouta.

The organisation say they are also ready to provide more assistance to newly-accessible areas of East Ghouta once access is granted.

The UK's Reaction To The Attack

The Prime Minister has "agreed" that the "international community needed to respond to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons" in telephone conversations with US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street said.

A spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister held separate telephone conversations earlier today with the US President Donald Trump and the French President Emmanuel Macron.

"They agreed that reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria were utterly reprehensible and if confirmed, represented further evidence of the Assad regime's appalling cruelty against its own people and total disregard for its legal obligations not to use these weapons.

"They agreed that the international community needed to respond to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

"They agreed they would continue working closely together and with international partners to ensure that those responsible were held to account."

President Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron had already agreed to coordinate a "strong, joint response" after talks by telephone.

US Ambassador to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison told Laura Makin-Isherwood: "Our countries should come together to do something," but was clear it would not be a NATO mission.

The National Security Council brought together relevant intelligence and defence chiefs and Cabinet ministers for top-level briefings.

President Trump has said an apparent poison gas attack in Syria will be "met forcefully" and held talks with his military leaders in Washington on Monday night.

Mr Trump did not give a timeframe for any retaliatory action, but said the US could not stand by as such atrocities take place because "we are able to stop it".

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's UN ambassador, said US attacks on Syria "could lead to grave repercussions" during heated exchanges at the UN Security Council.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia of having "the blood of Syrian children" on its hands after Mr Trump said that "nothing's off the table" in dealing with the alleged outrage.

Former Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, told Laura Makin-Isherwood he hopes the US president gives "relevant thought" when he considers a response to the situation in Syria.

Mr Nebenzia dismissed claims the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons as "fake news" as he called for inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to fly to Syria on Tuesday to visit the site of the attack.

The attack in Douma occurred late on Saturday amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce with the Army of Islam rebel group.

‘The UK could consider helping US to punish Assad’ – Dr Julian Lewis MP, Defence Select Committee Chair.

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