#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 10°C Thursday 25 February 2021

Sisters (aged 5 days and 3 years) treated for chemical attack symptoms

Their parents were also affected by the attack, which has been blamed on Islamic State.

Warning: This post contains a graphic image which some people may find distressing. 

A FAMILY HAS been treated for exposure to chemical agents in Syria.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) confirmed that four people from the same family were treated, including a five-day-old girl and her three-year-old sister.

The Wall Street Journal reports that opposition rebels and local residents have accused Islamic State militants of carrying out the attack, which took place late on Friday.

syria1 A Syrian refugee carries a baby after crossing over the broken border fence into Turkey from Syria. Source: PA

One person was reportedly killed in the attack and several others were injured when more than 50 shells fell in civilian areas in Mare’e, northern Aleppo.

Warning: Graphic image below

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said it treated more than 50 people who were exhibiting symptoms of chemical exposure such as respiratory irritation, coughing, redness of the eyes and severe itching.

SAMS said roughly 30 civilians developed skin blisters, with doctors identifying the agent to be mustard gas.

sams Source: SAMS

MSF said it treated the family after at a hospital one hour after the attack, suffering from respiratory difficulties, inflamed skin, red eyes and conjunctivitis.

Within three hours they developed blisters and their respiratory difficulties worsened. MSF staff treated their symptoms and gave them oxygen before transferring them to another facility for specialised treatment.

Protecting their children 

The patients said that a mortar shell hit their home at about 7.30pm on Friday (21 August). After the explosion, a yellow gas filled their living room.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The parents tried to protect their children by covering them with their own bodies. Neighbours raised the alarm and they were taken to Marea hospital, where they received first aid care. With their condition deteriorating, they were referred to MSF’s hospital.

syria 2 A Syrian refugee carries a baby over the border fence into Turkey from Syria in Akcakal. Source: PA

Pablo Marco, MSF’s programme manager in Syria, said the organisation “has no laboratory evidence to confirm the cause of these symptoms”.

However, the patients’ clinical symptoms, the way these symptoms changed over time, and the patients’ testimony about the circumstances of the poisoning all point to exposure to a chemical agent.

At least 11 medical facilities in Aleppo have been deliberately targeted with barrel bombs in recent months.

Jane-Ann McKenna, Director of MSF in Ireland, said any use of chemical weapons “constitutes an extremely severe violation of international humanitarian law”.

It adds an extra layer of suffering to a population already bearing the consequences of the worst humanitarian crisis in recent years.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. Eight children are killed in the country every day.

Read: Islamic State releases photos of how it blew up historic temple

Photos: Hundreds of refugees storm Macedonian border as police hurl stun grenades

About the author:

Órla Ryan

Read next: