Suspected toxic attack in Syria prompts outrage

BEIRUT: A suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta sparked international outrage on Sunday, as state media reported that the last rebel holdouts in the onetime opposition stronghold had agreed to evacuate.
State news agency Sana, citing a government source, said fighters with the Jaish rebel faction had agreed to leave Eastern Ghouta’s main town of Douma within 48 hours. In exchange, Jaish would release hostages it had been holding, the source said.
Sana reported dozens of buses were already entering Douma to begin the evacuations.
The announcement came just hours after rescue workers said dozens of civilians had been killed in a chlorine gas attack on Douma — claims denied by President Bashar al Assad’s government and its ally Russia.
Pope Francis on Sunday joined Washington and London in condemning the attack, which according to rescuers left victims struggling to breathe, foaming at the mouth and with corneal burns.
Reacting the reports, Russia warned the United States against carrying out a “military intervention on fabricated pretexts” in Syria, insisting that the Damascus government did not use chemical weapons on an opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta.