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Syria’s Opposition accuses Assad’s forces of killing hundreds in ‘chemical bombing’

Beirut, Aug 22 (): Syria’s opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of killing hundreds in a gas attack — by one report as many as 1,300 on rebel-held districts near Damascus on Wednesday in what would, if confirmed, be the world’s worst chemical weapons attack in decades.

George Sabra, the head of the Syrian National Council, said at a news conference that death toll could be as high as 1,300 people. The council is an umbrella group that comprises those trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad since the spring of 2011.

Images taken by freelance photographers showed scores of bodies including that of small children, laid out on the floor of a clinic with no visible signs of injuries. Many of the injured appeared to be convulsing.

Activists said rockets with chemical agents hit the Damascus suburbs of Zamalka, Jobar and Ain Tarma, during severe pre-dawn bombardment by government forces. But, the Syrian government denied that it had used chemical arms.

The Damascus Media Office monitoring centre said 150 bodies were counted in Hammouriya, 100 in Kfar Batna, 67 in Saqba, 61 in Douma, 76 in Mouadamiya and 40 in Irbib, all suburbs of Damascus.

Khaled Omar of the opposition local council in Ain Tarma said he saw at least 80 bodies at the Hajjah Hospital in Ain Tarma and at a makeshift clinic at Tatbiqiya School in the nearby district of Saqba.

Omar added that the attack took place at around 3:00 AM (0000 GMT), when most of those killed were in their homes.

The head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition said the forces of Assad had carried out a massacre.

A Syrian military officer, on a state television, said the accusations were untrue and a sign of “hysteria and floundering” by the opponents of Assad. Information Minister Omran Zoabi said the allegations were “illogical and fabricated”.