A number of Mare’a residents said they suffered from asphyxiation after the ISIL terrorists fired shells seemingly containing toxic materials at the town on Saturday, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.
The organisation said the patients were suffering from respiratory difficulties, inflamed skin, red eyes and conjunctivitis.
Generally, Syria’s government has been accused of using chemical weapons over the course of the country’s four-year-old conflict, including a recent spate of attacks in the north involving chlorine gas, a choking agent. Following a mortar attack in the town of Makhmour on August 11, about 60 Kurdish fighters reported symptoms consistent with a chemical attack.
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.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces kept up air strikes against Islamic State in the area to hold militants at bay as the jihadist group stepped up offensives against both government forces and other insurgents it is battling in northern Syria. “One of the really big issues is that I understand people are returning to the scene and becoming ill”, he said.
Aside from the initial symptoms, when the victim has been in direct contact with the gas – which in this form was liquid, but can also be vaporized – it can also be carcinogenic and mutagenic, De Bretton Gordon said.
“In total, more than 25 people were affected, four of them serious cases that were transferred to Turkey”.
He said that it was likely that ISIS carried out this recent attack in Marea, as they were known to have committed a similar attack recently, and that they could have a “lot more” mustard gas in reserve, a weapon which he called the “ultimate terror weapon”.
Brigadier General Kevin Killea, chief of staff for American military operations in Iraq and Syria, said at the time that ISIL had used sulfur mustard in its attacks against Kurdish fighters in the northern Iraqi town of Makhmour three days earlier. A nurse at the SAMS field hospital said he noticed a odd odor on the clothing of the victims.
The Observatory said 40 of those killed during two separate attacks on Kweiris Air Base were officers, Reuters reported.
Marea lies on the road between the crossing and the rebel-held eastern sector of the main northern city of Aleppo. ISIS took the city from the regime in June.
Local rebels told the BBC the shells were fired from a village to the east occupied by Islamic State militants.