A devastating chemical attack in north-western Syria left at least 50 civilians, including children, dead and over 200 injured on Tuesday morning. The chemical weapon used is believed to be sarin, a deadly gas which the Syrian government has been accused of using on its civilians before.
While the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 58 people had died as a result of the attack, other reports have said that over 100 were killed.
— Sakir Khader (@sakirkhader) April 4, 2017
The gas was released in an airstrike by government-backed Syrian forces or allied Russian forces on the Idlib province and immediately began causing people to choke, reports said.
Local activists and media outlets posted photos on social media of civilians being treated for asphyxiation and disturbing images of the bodies of victims, including at least nine children.
Symptoms of the toxic gas included fainting, vomiting and foaming at the mouth, said a report by the Observatory. A British doctor at the scene tweeted that the deadly chemical was sarin gas.
Syrian opposition immediately accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s pro-government forces of perpetuating the attack and called for an emergency investigation by the United Nations Security Council.
“The National Coalition demands the Security Council convene an emergency session…open an immediate investigation and take the necessary measures to ensure the officials, perpetrators and supporters are held accountable,” the group said in a statement.
Syia’s Idlib province is largely controlled by a rebel alliance, making it a regular target of the Assad regime and the Russian forces which support it.
While Assad has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons, a UN report published last January determined that a number of people in Syria had been exposed to sarin, or a sarin-like gas.