The Syrian government has denied reports that chemical weapons had been used in an attack in the Ghouta region, east of Damascus, killing more than 200 people, mostly children and women.
As graphic footage of dying and dead children started to surface on social media, state TV quoted a source saying there was no truth whatsoever in the reports. The allegations were aimed at distracting a visiting team of UN chemical weapons experts from their mission, the source continued.
But a pro-Assad Facebook page called Harsta News Network posted an update praising president Bashar al-Assad for the attack.
"Finally, a chemical attack was launched by order of President Bashar al-Assad. Under the direct supervision of senior Syrian Alawite officers, the operation was successfully completed," it read.
According to activists, regime forces fired nerve gas-armed rockets into the districts of Zamallaka and on Al-Zainia area in Ein Turma in the middle of the night.
"Primary reports from makeshift hospital of Arbeen [where victims were taken] report 41 martyrs fell (22 children, 11 women, eight men), five other martyrs were taken to Douma, 40 martyrs documented by videos in Saqba, and at least 20 martyrs inside Ein Turma itself," read an update by Syrian blogger Enas, from Amman in Jordan.
"Most activists report that death toll amounts to more than a 100. Many of the martyrs are children, seen in videos below suffocating to death."
Enas added that patients suffered nausea, hallucinations, suffocation, choking, high blood pressure, seizures, during affection and post-death gargle.
A video uploaded on YouTube by an opposition group shows a little girl under hysteria attack asking her father: "Am I alive?".
Allegations that chemical weapons were used on heavily populated areas came on the second day of the mission to Syria by UN inspectors.
The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a network of activists, reported hundreds of casualties in the "brutal use of toxic gas by the criminal regime in parts of western Ghouta".
The gas suffocated children and put further pressure on already overcrowding field hospitals which were struggling with low medical supplies and large numbers of casualties, the LCC said.
Eastern Ghouta was also shelled following the chemical attack, LCC added.