Syria’s opposition accused the country’s regime of dropping chlorine-loaded barrel bombs on two towns this week, NBC News reports.
Local politicians and activists charged President Bashar Assad’s forces with carrying out a Monday strike on the Syrian village of Telminnes and a Tuesday assault on the Daria community neighboring Damascus. The incidents reportedly occurred within a day of each other as governments attempted to substantiate a string of alleged toxic-gas attacks in the violence-racked Middle Eastern nation.
Participants in Syria’s 3-year-old civil war have reported no fewer than seven gas strikes in the country since April 11, the London Telegraph reported. Monday’s possible attack was said to have killed at least one child, according to the newspaper. Witnesses counted no deaths from Tuesday’s alleged incident, but described victims with sometimes severe breathing difficulties, NBC News reported.
Experts said the claims appeared to reflect the use of chlorine as part of a concerted offensive strategy, with increasing indications that the government is responsible, Reuters reported.
Assad’s regime, though, has blamed any chlorine releases on rebel fighters. The common industrial substance is not part of the chemical-warfare stockpile the government has largely relinquished under an agreement reached last year, following a large-scale nerve agent release in a Damascus suburb.
Washington has not yet verified specifics about the latest alleged attacks, but “the use of any toxic chemical with the intent to cause death or harm is a clear violation of the [Chemical Weapons] Convention” signed by Damascus last year, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday said it was beginning a preliminary review of the reported attacks ahead of a potential formal probe, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A British government source, though, said “you can’t ask for investigations until you accumulate and present evidence,” the Telegraph reported.
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The Signal app is fast becoming the new favorite among those who are obsessed with the security and untraceabilty of their messaging. Just ask the Democratic National Committee. Or Edward Snowden. As Vanity Fair reports, before news ever broke that the DNC's servers had been hacked, word went out among the organization that the word "Trump" should never be used in their emails, lest it attract hackers' attention. Not long after, all Trump-related messages, especially disparaging ones, would need to be encrypted via the Snowden-approved Signal.
The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.
According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.
"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.