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31 Palestinians among victims of alleged chemical attack

Aug. 24, 2013 3:12 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 26, 2013 7:20 P.M.)
JENIN (Ma'an) -- At least 31 Palestinians were among the victims of an alleged chemical attack said to have killed hundreds in Damascus on Wednesday, relatives said Saturday.

Opponents of Bashar Assad said the Syrian president's forces used chemical weapons east and southwest of Damascus in attacks Wednesday that killed hundreds. The regime has strongly denied the accusations.

Eleven members of the al-Hurani family, from Jenin in the northern West Bank, were killed in "the massacre in Ghouta," including six children, family member Abu Zeid al-Hurani told Ma'an.

"The family received calamitous news from its members in Syria confirming that 11 were killed in the attack by poisonous chemical gas," another relative in Jenin, Hasan al-Hurani, told Ma'an.

He identified the victims as Thahir Abu Zeid, 75, his wife Fathiyya, 70, their daughter Samar, 30, their son Yahya Thahir Abu Zeid, 33, and his wife Nisreen, 25, as well as six grandchildren aged between three and seven.

The family had moved to Syria in 1967 and lived in the Damascus suburb of Jobar. After the civil war broke out, they moved to an agricultural area in Ghouta hoping it would be safe as it had not previously witnessed any fighting, Hasan al-Hurani said.

He said the al-Hurani family in Jenin had difficulties contacting their relatives in Syria, but were eventually able to reach Tariq al-Hurani, who notified them of the deaths.

Tariq al-Hurani said 20 members of a Palestinian family from Nazareth were also killed in Ghouta on Wednesday.

UN Under Secretary General Angela Kane arrived in Syria's capital Saturday for talks aimed at establishing the terms of an inquiry into alleged chemical weapons attacks, an AFP journalist said.

Kane's visit comes after UN chief Ban Ki-moon handed her the task and called for Syria's regime and its opponents to cooperate in the UN efforts to establish an investigation into Wednesday's attacks.

Harrowing footage released by activists showing unconscious children, people foaming around the mouth and doctors apparently giving them oxygen has triggered revulsion around the world.

So far, the government in Damascus has not said whether it will let the inspectors visit the sites.

The Coalition says more than 1,300 people were killed in gas attacks southwest and east of the capital.

The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against Assad's rule flared in March 2011, while millions more have fled the country or been internally displaced.
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