Toxic Gas Reportedly Dropped on Women, Children in Syria
The attack occurred near where a Russian helicopter was shot down Monday
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2016 4:14 PM CDT
This image purports to show people gathered around the burning wreckage of a Russian helicopter downed in Syria on Monday. Hours later, sources say a helicopter dropped toxic gas on a nearby rebel-held...   (Thiqa News Agency via AP)

(Newser) – More than 30 people were sickened Monday when a helicopter dropped toxic gas onto a Syrian town near where a Russian helicopter had been shot down hours earlier, NBC News reports. That information comes from Syrian Civil Defence, which claims 18 women and 10 children were showing "signs of severe respiratory distress" after the chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Saraqeb. The gas dropped in two barrels from a helicopter is believed to be chlorine, according to the BBC. "We know it's chlorine because we were hit by it in the past and we are familiar with its odor and symptoms," a local doctor says.

The Syrian National Coalition claims President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the attack, Reuters reports. But a state-run news agency later claimed the rebels were firing rockets armed with poisonous gas. Both the Syrian government and rebels have denied using chemical weapons. A Russian military helicopter was shot down near Saraqeb hours earlier Monday, killing five people on board. It's unclear who is responsible. Russia has sided with al-Assad against Syrian rebels.