March 19, 2013 / 10:34 PM / 7 years ago

WHO sending supplies to Aleppo, can't confirm chemical use

A woman, affected in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, breathes through an oxygen mask as she is treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013. REUTERS/George Ourfalian

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that it would send medical supplies to the Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, but could not verify if chemical weapons or some other toxin had been used there.

“At this stage we cannot confirm the use of chemical weapons, nor what agent, if any, was used,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters in Geneva.

Syria’s government and rebels accused each other of launching a deadly chemical attack near the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday in what would, if confirmed, be the first use of such weapons in the two-year conflict.

A number of patients are seeking medical care in the public hospital in Aleppo, however total casualty figures for wounded and killed could not be verified, Jasarevic said.

Experts contracted by WHO were visiting Aleppo health facilities to identify immediate health needs and the United Nations agency was providing “technical support on the treatment of chemical toxins”, available on its website, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

“It is not in response to a request, it is an initiative we took,” Hartl told Reuters.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning WHO will send medical supplies (for trauma cases) to Aleppo from its prepositioned stocks in Tartous,” Jasarevic said, referring to Syria’s Mediterranean port on its western coast.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Roddy

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