Vendors sell goods in the rebel-held Bustan al-Qasr district in eastern Aleppo, Syria, on May 21, 2016. Tuesday, witnesses and news reports said President Bashar Assad's regime launched a chlorine attack on a civilian-populated neighborhood in the east part of the city, injuring at least 80 people. File Photo by Ameer Alhalbi/ UPI | License Photo
ALEPPO, Syria, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Military jets belonging to controversial Syrian President Bashar Assad dropped chemical munitions onto a civilian population in Aleppo early Tuesday, witnesses and news reports said.
According to witnesses, government warplanes released chlorine gas in the eastern part of the rebel-contested city -- sending residents running for cover and making it difficult for some of them to breathe.
Images of civilians fleeing the chemical attack were posted on the Internet, at the very least confirming that a gas attack had indeed occurred. Who was responsible for it, however, remains unclear.
"Me and my children were all coughing and struggling to breathe after the attack took place," resident Mariam Khawaja told Middle East Eye on Tuesday. "My throat was burning and my eyes were weeping; all I could think about was my children."
Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue group regularly involved in the aftermath of attacks in the troubled Middle Eastern nation, said the chlorine bombs were dropped on the civilian-populated al-Sukkari neighborhood.
At least 80 were hospitalized but no deaths were initially reported, SCD said.
While claims that the government was behind the attack were not immediately confirmed, a United Nations-led investigation earlier this summer concluded that Assad's regime had launched chlorine attacks on at least two prior occasions.
The Syrian government has denied that it has ever launched a chlorine attack.
Syrian government forces are involved in a military campaign against the Islamic State terror group and a civil war that's been going on for five years.