At least 70 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in a suspected chemical attack in Douma, the last rebel-held enclave in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics say.

Volunteer rescuers from the independent White Helmets shared a series of graphic images on social media that show a number of dead women and children, that appear to have suffocated to death. Many of the children appear to have been foaming at the mouth, a common sign of nerve agent attack.

In a statement, the White Helmets described the scene: “Entire families in shelters gassed to death in Douma, East Ghouta, hiding in their cellars, suffocated from the poisonous gas”.

Several medical and monitoring groups have reported details on the attack and say as many as 1,000 people may have been affected. International groups do not have access to the area to independently verify the reports.

The Assad regime and its main ally, Russia, have called the reports of a chemical attack a “fabrication”, as they have previous confirmed chemical attacks on Syrian civilians throughout the conflict.

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