Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Tuesday it had treated four members of a family who suffered from breathing difficulties and developed blisters after a mortar hit their home in Marea.
Local sources in Marea reported that the mortars were fired from an ISIS-held village east of the town last Friday. They arrived at MSF’s hospital one hour after the attack, suffering from respiratory difficulties, inflamed skin, red eyes, and conjunctivitis.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it had treated civilians apparently exposed to a chemical agent in Marea, without saying what type or providing overall casualty figures.
It appears to be the first such report of chemical weapons used by the Islamists against rebels in Syria and it follows confirmation by US experts that mustard gas was used by IS against Kurdish fighters in Iraq this summer and is further indication that the militants had obtained a banned chemical weapon.
At least nine Syrian officers were killed Saturday during fresh battles with the Islamic State (IS) group at a besieged northern airbase, a monitor group reported.
The Syrian American Medical Society said its field hospital in the town received upward of 50 civilians exhibiting symptoms of chemical exposure. They said that a yellow gas had filled their living room.
The challenges occurred in zones in the seaside areas of Tartous and Latakia, it said.
MSF’s program manager for Syria, Pablo Marco, said that while MSF could provide no laboratory evidence that would determine the cause of the family’s symptoms, “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”.
U.S. military officials said recently that Islamic State militants used mustard gas during an attack last month on Kurdish forces elsewhere in Syria.
IS, which has seized territory across Syria and Iraq, is fighting Kurdish forces and Arab groups opposed to it in both countries.
The Assad government said two years ago that its chemical weapons stockpiles, including mustard gas, had been destroyed under an agreement brokered by the United States and Russian Federation.