Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces on Thursday (August 22) continued a heavy bombardment of the ring of rebel-held suburbs around the capital, known as the Ghouta region.

Activists say the bombardment will further hinder U.N. investigators from entering the area, only a few kilometres from the Damascus hotel where the U.N. team is staying.

Activists say several towns in the Ghouta were hit with rockets loaded with poison gas at dawn on Wednesday.

Syria's opposition accused government forces of gassing hundreds of people on Wednesday (August 21) by firing rockets that released deadly fumes over rebel-held Damascus suburbs, killing men, women and children as they slept.

Syria denied using chemical weapons.

The Ghouta area is an expanse of farmland dotted with large built-up areas inhabited mostly by members of Syria's Sunni Muslim majority that have been at the forefront of the uprising against Assad's Alawite rule.

Presented by Adam Justice