Syrian activists accuse Assad regime of deadly ‘toxic gas’ attack near Damascus , dozens dead

BEIRUT (AP) — The U.S., Britain and France are demanding that a team of U.N. experts already in Syria be granted immediate access to the eastern suburbs of Damascus where activists claim government forces killed at least 130 people today with toxic gas.

Activists and opposition leaders provided videos and photographs showing rows of bodies, including more than a dozen children, wrapped in white shrouds. There was little evidence of blood or conventional injuries and most appeared to have suffocated. Survivors of the purported attack could be seen lying on gurneys with oxygen masks covering their faces, some twitching uncontrollably.

The Syrian government is adamantly denying it used chemical weapons in an artillery barrage targeting suburbs east of the capital, calling the allegations “absolutely baseless.”

The U.N. Security Council is calling for “a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation.”

Reports of chemical attacks have been impossible to verify. After months of negotiations, a U.N. team arrived in Damascus on Sunday to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. But the probe is limited to three sites.

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APPHOTO BEI123: This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Syrian anti-government activists accused the regime of carrying out a toxic gas attack that killed at least 100 people, including many children as they slept, during intense artillery and rocket barrages Wednesday on the eastern suburbs of Damascus, part of a fierce government offensive in the area. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen) (21 Aug 2013)

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APPHOTO BEI122: This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian man reacts as he carries a dead body of a Syrian girl, after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Syrian anti-government activists accused the regime of carrying out a toxic gas attack that killed at least 100 people, including many children as they slept, during intense artillery and rocket barrages Wednesday on the eastern suburbs of Damascus, part of a fierce government offensive in the area. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen) (21 Aug 2013)

<<APPHOTO BEI122 (08/21/13)££

APPHOTO BEI120: In this citizen journalism image provided by the Media Office Of Douma City, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man mourns over a dead body after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists, in Douma town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Syrian regime forces fired intense artillery and rocket barrages Wednesday on the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, in what two pro-opposition groups claimed was a “poisonous gas” attack that killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Media Office Of Douma City) (21 Aug 2013)

<<APPHOTO BEI120 (08/21/13)££

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