As horrific pictures of an alleged chemical attack in Douma continue to pour out of Syria, Damascus signaled on Sunday that it is ready to begin negotiations with the rebel group that controls the city. Meanwhile, AFP reported that the Syrian Army has launched new airstrikes on Eastern Ghouta.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Photo Credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office

The Syrian government said Sunday that it is prepared to enter negotiations with Jaish al-Islam, the rebel group in control of Douma, according to Reuters. However, Jaish al-Islam has yet to comment on the report.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government has launched new airstrikes on Eastern Ghouta, AFP reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

On Saturday, reports claiming that the Syrian government launched a chemical attack on Douma surfaced, drawing international concern. Damascus has denied the allegations, claiming that Jaish al-Islam is spreading fake news. Moscow has also rejected the claims.

However, aid organizations in Syria are claiming that at least 150 people were murdered and over 1,000 were injured in the chemical attack.

The US State Department said that the reports out of Syria are “disturbing” and that if they are confirmed, the international community will need to respond immediately. “The United States continues to use all efforts available to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable. The regime’s history of using chemical weapons against its own people is not in dispute, and in fact nearly one year ago on April 4, 2017, Assad’s forces conducted a sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun, which killed approximately 100 Syrians,” the State Department said in a statement.