355 Dead, 3K Sick in Syria Chemical Attack: Aid Group

Doctors Without Borders says patients show 'neurotoxic symptoms'

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 24, 2013 2:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – While the Syrian government and rebels argue over who is using chemical weapons on whom, and the US government weighs what, if anything, it should do about it, Doctors Without Borders (AKA Medecins Sans Frontieres) has added weight to the allegations that chemical weapons were indeed used in the attack. In a new release, the aid group says that on Wednesday morning, it received about 3,600 patients in three hours showing "neurotoxic symptoms" at the three hospitals it supports in Damascus. Of those, 355 have since died, reports the BBC.

"MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack," says the group's director of operations. "However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events ... strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent." While the US government still has no official decision on whether it believes the attacks were chemical, Chuck Hagel conceded to reporters "it appears to be what happened—use of chemical weapons," the AP reports.

A Syrian man mourns over a dead body after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists, in Douma town, Damascus, Syria.
A Syrian man mourns over a dead body after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists, in Douma town, Damascus, Syria.   (AP Photo/Media Office Of Douma City, File)
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