Aid group tallies 355 dead after Syria attack

Columns of smoke rising from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood in west Damascus, in Cairo, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. President Bashar Assad's forces pressed on with a military offensive in eastern Damascus on Thursday, bombing rebel-held suburbs where the opposition said a chemical weapons attack the day before killed over 100 people. The government has denied allegations it used chemical weapons in artillery barrages on the area known as eastern Ghouta on Wednesday as "absolutely baseless." (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

PARIS (AP) — Doctors Without Borders says some 355 people who showed "neurotoxic symptoms" died following the suspected chemical weapons attack this week near Syria's capital.

The Paris-based humanitarian aid group said Saturday that three hospitals it supports in the Damascus region reported receiving roughly 3,600 patients who showed such symptoms over less than three hours on Wednesday morning.

A debate has ensued about who was behind the alleged gas attack on rebel-held Damascus suburbs that activists previously said killed more than 130 people. The attack has spurred demands for an independent investigation and renewed talk of potential international military action, if chemical weapons were indeed used.

Anti-government activists accuse the Syrian government of carrying out the toxic gas attack on the eastern suburbs of Damascus and have reported death tolls ranging from 136 to 1,300.