ISIS Militants Seize Damascus Neighborhood in Surprise Attack

Syrian President Bashar Assad drives to the newly captured areas of eastern Ghouta near Damascus

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has said that chlorine was used as a toxic agent on villages during the government's offensive to retake rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

Thirteen were killed late Sunday in air strikes and artillery fire on the battered town, and another seven were killed Monday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Speaking in Ankara on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: "We are sensitive to looting or inhuman treatment and we won't allow them".

"What worries us is that in areas liberated from the rebels, the Syrian government discovered stockpiles of chemical weapons ready for use and that is very worrying", said Nebenzia.

Before the exodus from Ghouta, the United Nations estimated that some 400,000 people were living in eastern Ghouta, an expanse of farmland and towns that rebels have used to shell the capital during the conflict now in its eighth year.

The UN refugee agency also urgently called on Tuesday for the protection of those who have fled and for the hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped by fighting who are in "dire need of aid".

The attack on a school sheltering the children occured in the town of Arbin on Monday night, the activists said.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to expand operations against Kurdish forces in Syria on Monday, the Associated Press reported. The Islamic State group a year ago lost the contiguous stretch of territory it controlled in eastern Syria since 2014 - and where it had proclaimed its self-styled "caliphate" - but pockets and smaller areas of control remain scattered across Syria.

It said 36 pro-regime fighters were killed in clashes, and dozens more wounded or captured, adding the regime has sent reinforcements into the area.

The militants circulated a statement on Twitter saying they took Qadam.

His army's next task will be to target a region stretching almost 400 km (250 miles) east to the northern Syrian town of Qamishli.

Talks between regime ally Russian Federation and the rebel group which holds Douma, Jaish al-Islam, had resulted in a brief respite for the town.

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