Syrian military source says army doesn’t use chlorine gas

A Syrian military source denied on Wednesday accusations that the army had launched a chlorine gas attack on a rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo.

The Syrian Civil Defense, a rescue workers’ organization which operates in rebel-held areas, said government helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on Tuesday on the Sukari neighborhood in Aleppo’s eastern sector.

“We have not and will not use at any point this type of weapon,” the Syrian military source said. The accusation was an attempt by rebels to divert public attention away from their defeats, the source added.

The Syrian army, backed by allied forces including Iraqi and Lebanese Shi’ite militias, on Sunday encircled the rebel-held part of Aleppo where more than 250,000 people are estimated to live.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that one person had died as a result of the attack that caused dozens of cases of suffocation on Tuesday.

A United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry seen by Reuters last month found that Syrian government forces were responsible for two toxic gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 involving the use of chlorine.