Roy Gutman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former McClatchy Middle East bureau chief who is currently a freelance writer based in Istanbul.
Starting July 28, he has begun relaying reports from sources inside besieged Aleppo. Here is his latest dispatch:
CHLORINE GAS ATTACK: Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, reported an apparent regime chemical attack in Saraqeb, a town in Idlib province, SW of Aleppo early Tuesday morning, Two barrels were dropped from a helicopter, each containing five canisters of suspected chlorine gas as well as iron fragments of various sizes. Thirty-three civilians, including 18 women and 10 children, sustained suffocation injuries, and three are reported in a critical state. Civil Defense brought the wounded to nearby hospitals and removed what was left of the barrels and canisters to be examined by experts.
MORE BOMBINGS: Civil Defense reported 22 killed and 51 injured in regime or Russian attacks on Aleppo. The assault included two surface-to-surface missiles, 20 sea mines (presumably dropped from helicopters), two air strikes, and artillery bombardment through the day.
REBEL COUNTER-ATTACK: Tuesday was the third day of “Aleppo Rage,” the counter-offensive to break the siege of Aleppo, and rebels reported making advances as they moved towards regime checkpoints outside regime-held Aleppo. They reported capturing regime locations in the Al Ramusa neighborhood west of Aleppo and shelled the former army Artillery School, the most important regime position south of Aleppo. Rebels said they had destroyed a regime tank in the regime held neighborhood of Halab Al Jadida. Masar Press, an opposition news agency, said rebels killed 50 regime soldiers in battle Tuesday. Rebel spokesmen said on the opposition Orient TV that rebels are just 1.5 kilometers from regime-held suburbs and that the rebels intend to free the entire city.
REGIME: REBELS USED GAS: The official Syrian news agency reported seven civilians were killed and 25 wounded in attacks on government-held neighborhoods. It said two civilians were killed and 11 wounded in a rocket attack on the Salah-Eddin neighborhood, and five civilians were killed and eight wounded from shells containing toxic gas fired at the old city of Aleppo.
Middle East correspondent
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC), an activist organization based in Syria which verifies and publishes news reports from the ground, reports that napalm bombs have been dropped on a residential neighborhood of Darayya, a key suburb just west of Damascus which has been besieged for more than three years. Furthermore, there is video evidence to back up their claims.
The Local Coordination Committee in Darayya has uploaded this video. The videographer is filming a previous explosion when a huge fireball erupts, followed by the thick dark smoke we would expect to see in a napalm explosion. According to the video, this is the result of a barrel bomb, an improvised explosive loaded into an oil barrel, which was dropped from a helicopter. The distinctive beating of a helicopter rotor can be heard in the last half of the video. This would also explain why the two explosions took place very close to each other.
This video does not appear to be previously uploaded, according to reverse image searches conducted by The Interpreter of three frames of the footage.