On April 7, a chemical attack on civilians was reported in the Syrian town of Douma, the last rebel-held territory in Eastern Ghouta. According to monitors, 48 people were killed in the area, with another 500 showing signs of exposure to a toxic chemical. Sources claim the chemical used was most likely chlorine gas, while the Pentagon suggests a nerve agent may have been involved.
On April 8, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the reports of a chemical attack a “fabricated story.” Iran, another supporter of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, condemned the use of chemical weapons but denied that the regime was responsible for the attack.
While information remains scant, there is enough evidence to support the claim that a chemical attack of some kind took place on April 7. Video footage from SMART News Agency shows child victims, one with foam around his mouth, a sign of exposure to a nerve agent. Doctors working in the region have reported treating patients suffering from “exposure to a chemical agent.” Other video footage shows such patients being treated for exposure to toxic chemicals.
Elliot Higgins of Bellingcat, an open source investigative project, shared photos of expended munitions from the alleged April 7 attack, noting the similarity with spent munitions found after previously-reported chemical attacks.
Higgins later expressed doubt toward U.S. claims that a nerve agent was involved.
While details of the April 7 incident are scant, there is no doubt that a chemical attack took place. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations have jointly investigations earlier allegations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. A Russian veto in the U.N. Security Council in November 2017 ended the “Joint Investigative Mechanism.”