Syrian Islamists launch chemical attack on Kurdish district in Aleppo

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Kurdish civilians are seen in the besieged Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Aleppo – Syrian Islamist rebels attacked Sheikh Maqsoud District on Friday, using conventional and chemical weapons. The outlying district is located in northern Aleppo city and is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Militants from the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham have reportedly shelled the Kurdish enclave with rockets that contained mustard gas. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

The chemical barrage killed at least six people, including two children. Those numbers will likely rise as more than 15 suffocation cases were reported in Sheikh Maqsoud following the attack.

“The wounded were immediately transferred to a makeshift hospital run by the Kurdish Red Crescent in Sheikh Maqsoud,” a local media activist told ARA News.

Doctor Mihemed Hamke, the director of a hospital in Sheikh Maqsoud District, told ARA News that the initial investigation showed that the victims were exposed to a chemical agent during the shelling on Friday.

“The injured suffered from suffocation, skin burning and vomiting. These are obvious symptoms of exposure to mustard gas,” Dr Hamke explained.

Sheikh Maqsoud has been under a partial siege by Syrian Islamists for over three years. Violence has recently intensified in the district as the YPG have tried to establish a buffer zone.

“Armed groups surrounding the Sheikh Maqsoud District of Aleppo city have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate attacks that have struck civilian homes, streets, markets and mosques,” Amnesty International said in an earlier report about developments in the Kurdish district.

Amnesty International added the militants surrounding Sheikh Maqsoud have been “killing and injuring civilians and displaying a shameful disregard for human life.”

Friday’s attack was not the first time Syrian Islamists have deployed chemical weapons in Sheikh Maqsoud. Analysts believe that the militants may be using the district to field test their strategic weapons.

On March 8, the same groups struck the Kurdish district with a phosphorus agent, causing dozens of civilian casualties. The YPG’s leadership then released a statement, saying that “extremist groups had launched dozens of rockets filled with a yellow phosphorus element.”

Human rights activist Rezan Hiddo has appealed to the international community and human rights organizations to intervene and stop the attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud. He emphasized that the Kurdish district suffers from an acute shortage of medicine.

“We do not see any sympathy with the Kurdish civilians who suffer under those barbaric chemical attacks in Aleppo,” Hiddo told ARA News. “The lives of hundreds of Kurdish children are at risk.”

A Kurdish boy injured in an attack by Syrian Islamists in Sheikh Maqsoud district, Aleppo. (Activists)

 

Reporting by: Mir Yaqoub and Helin Saeed | Source: ARA News

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