Chemical attack kills dozens of civilians in Syria
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Nine children are among the dozens of people killed in a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held Idlib province in Syria. Planes carrying weaponry laced with chemicals raided the town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday morning and again in the early afternoon, aid workers and activists said.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack caused many people to choke or faint and some had foam coming out of their mouths. Medical sources told the group the symptoms were sign of a gas attack.
If confirmed, says the BBC, it would be one of the deadliest chemical attacks in Syria’s civil war.
Idlib province is largely controlled by an alliance of rebel factions and the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, reports the BBC.
Mohammed Rasoul, who is in charge of a charity ambulance service in the region, said his team found people choking in the street.
“I am speaking to my team and they are doing fine, but the situation over there is very bad and most of those who are suffering are children,” he added.
A doctor named Mohammad said more than 200 were wounded and that most of those who were near the centre of the attack are either dead or in intensive care.
AFP reported that a rocket “slammed into a hospital, bringing rubble down on top of medics as they struggled to deal with victims”.
Activist groups blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the attack, but the government denied carrying out air strikes in the area.
Turkey has opened its border crossing at Reyhanli to allow victims through for treatment as few hospitals in Idlib are able to treat the symptoms of chemical attacks due to repeated bombings of medical facilities.
However, there were reports that casualties driven to a different crossing on the Turkish border were experiencing difficulties in entering the country for emergency relief, reports The Guardian.
The attack comes a day after Al-Jazeera reported that “a new military alliance of rebel groups in northern Syria” were aiming to “consolidate military control over Idlib province”.
Today’s raid “indicated the growing confidence” Assad has thanks to “unflinching support of Moscow and Shia militias backed by Iran, as well as waning support for the opposition by its allies in the region and the new American administration”, says the Guardian.
It will also cast doubt on the “signature achievement” of Barack Obama’s administration, which negotiated the destruction of Assad’s chemical arsenal in 2013, adds the paper.
Source: /The Week