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Syria Gas Claims Mount as World Races to Respond

Syrian rebel fighters walk along a trench in the city of Deir Ezzor last month. Opposition groups accused Damascus of conducting two new chlorine-gas attacks this week. Syrian rebel fighters walk along a trench in the city of Deir Ezzor last month. Opposition groups accused Damascus of conducting two new chlorine-gas attacks this week. (Ahmad Aboud/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria's opposition accused the country's regime of dropping chlorine-loaded barrel bombs on two towns this week, NBC News reports.

Local politicians and activists charged President Bashar Assad's forces with carrying out a Monday strike on the Syrian village of Telminnes and a Tuesday assault on the Daria community neighboring Damascus. The incidents reportedly occurred within a day of each other as governments attempted to substantiate a string of alleged toxic-gas attacks in the violence-racked Middle Eastern nation.

Participants in Syria's 3-year-old civil war have reported no fewer than seven gas strikes in the country since April 11, the London Telegraph reported. Monday's possible attack was said to have killed at least one child, according to the newspaper. Witnesses counted no deaths from Tuesday's alleged incident, but described victims with sometimes severe breathing difficulties, NBC News reported.

Experts said the claims appeared to reflect the use of chlorine as part of a concerted offensive strategy, with increasing indications that the government is responsible, Reuters reported.

Assad's regime, though, has blamed any chlorine releases on rebel fighters. The common industrial substance is not part of the chemical-warfare stockpile the government has largely relinquished under an agreement reached last year, following a large-scale nerve agent release in a Damascus suburb.

Washington has not yet verified specifics about the latest alleged attacks, but "the use of any toxic chemical with the intent to cause death or harm is a clear violation of the [Chemical Weapons] Convention" signed by Damascus last year, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday said it was beginning a preliminary review of the reported attacks ahead of a potential formal probe, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A British government source, though, said "you can't ask for investigations until you accumulate and present evidence," the Telegraph reported.

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