Syrian American Medical Society says patients suffering exposure to chemical compounds treated in Eastern Ghouta
Sixteen patients including six children were treated in a SAMS-supported hospital in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, "suffering from symptoms indicative to exposure to chemical compounds" according to a tweet from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) late Sunday.
The Syrian opposition-run Rural Damascus Health Directorate (RDHD) on Monday said several people were admitted to medical facilities in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday showing signs that, "are consistent with exposure to toxic chlorine gas", according to a statement. The RDHD statement describes patients "having symptoms including dyspnea, intensive irritation of the mucus membranes, irritation of the eyes, and dizziness" and added, "the smell of people in the area, ambulance drivers, and victims all had the clear and known smell of chlorine gas."
CNN is unable to independently verify claims chlorine was used as a weapon in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday. Both sides of the Syrian conflict have in the past accused one another of the use of chlorine as a weapon. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied claims that it has used chlorine as a weapon on civilians.
Syria's most controversial war tactics
02:48 - Source: CNN
Moscow CNN  — 

Russia’s deputy prime minister ridiculed President Donald Trump’s Twitter diplomacy Friday, saying that international relations should not depend on any individual’s frame of mind.

“We cannot depend on the mood of someone on the other side of the ocean when he wakes up, on what a specific person takes into his head in the morning,” Arkady Dvorkovich said, according to the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

He did not specifically name Trump, but the US leader did threaten military action against Syria in early-morning tweets this week.

As the United States considers its response to a suspected chemical attack last week in Douma, Syria, Trump’s threats against Syria and Russia have been made almost entirely on Twitter.

Russia, the Syrian regime’s most powerful ally, has denied a chemical attack took place and warned it would shoot down any US missiles fired over Syria, raising concerns of a US-Russia confrontation.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed to have “irrefutable evidence” that the reports of a chemical attack had been fabricated. A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry later accused the UK of working with the White Helmets rescue group in Syria to stage the attack but did not provide any evidence.

Karen Pierce, UK ambassador to the United Nations, called the accusation “grotesque.” “It’s the worst piece of fake news we have yet seen from the Russian propaganda machine,” she said.

US allies await plan

Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Syria, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the United States had confirmed chemical weapons were used in Saturday’s attack in Douma, though she did not explain how.

Biological samples from Douma tested positive for chlorine and a Sarin-like nerve agent, according to an American official familiar with the US analysis of test results.

Medical sources and activists in Syria said blood, urine and hair follicle samples had been smuggled in batches from Turkey during evacuations of rebel groups and their families from Douma.

Haley said the United States did not want to rush into a response to the attack, but France and the UK have been coordinating with Washington on possible action and are still awaiting a US plan.

Amanpour Palomeros
Ex-French Gen. on Syria: Crucial to act now
08:56 - Source: CNN

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers agreed on the need for action at a Cabinet meeting Thursday, while French President Emmanuel Macron said that France would target Syria’s chemical capabilities if it conducted any strikes.

Macron also said in an interview Thursday with French TV channel TF1 that he also had proof chemical weapons were used in the attack. He provided no details but pointed to Syria’s Assad regime as the likely perpetrator.

Germany joined the chorus of European countries saying it believed the attack involved chemical weapons and called for action.

After sending mixed signals on their stance, US officials now appear to be on the same page, using softer rhetoric than Trump’s initial threats to strike Syria.

Missing a self-imposed, 48-hour deadline to make a decision, Trump rolled back on that timeline. “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” he wrote Thursday on Twitter.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers Thursday he believed there had been a chemical attack and that although it was “simply inexcusable, beyond the pale,” he called attention to the risks of further US involvement in Syria.

“We are trying to stop the murder of innocent people, but on a strategic level it’s how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that?” he said.

CNN’s Mary Ilyushina reported from Moscow, and Angela Dewan wrote in London. CNN’s Nadine Schmidt, Ryan Browne, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Saskya Vandoorne, Milena Veselinovic and Judith Vonberg contributed to this report.