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.
What We're Following See More »
"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."