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In photos: Syria chemical weapons attack death toll rises to 72

Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 5 April 2017, 19:35 IST
A Syrian child receives treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following an attack on 4 April, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour)

A chemical attack in the northwestern province of Idlib in Syria killed at least 72 people, including children, on Tuesday.

Dozens of civilians died — disturbing images of many them writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth are doing the rounds on the internet — after breathing in gas that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses like doctors and rescue workers.

Turkish officials with chemical clothes carry a injured man on April 4, 2017 in Hatay province, near the Syrian border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on 4 April, 2017 condemned a suspected chemical attack in northwestern Syria as an (AFP PHOTO / DOGAN NEWS AGENCY)

Many witnesses claim that the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours.

The US government believes the chemical agent sarin was used in the attack, a US government source said, adding that it was "almost certainly" carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian children receive treatment at a small hospital in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syriaís northwestern Idlib province, on 4 April, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour )


US President Donald Trump denounced the carnage as a “heinous” act that “cannot be ignored by the civilised world”. But he also laid some of the responsibility on Barack Obama, saying in a statement that the attack was “a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution”.

UK PM Theresa May said she was appalled by reports of the attack and called for an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “I’m very clear that there can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria which is representative of all the Syrian people and I call on all the third parties involved to ensure that we have a transition away from Assad. We cannot allow this suffering to continue,” she said.

A picture taken on 4 April, 2017 shows destruction at a hospital room in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack. (AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour)
A Syrian man receives treatment at a small hospital in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syriaís northwestern Idlib province, on 4 April, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour )

The United States, Britain and France on Tuesday proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the attack, which they have blamed on Assad's forces. Diplomats said the resolution would likely be put to a vote on Wednesday.

The Syrian military, for its part, denied responsibility and said it would never use chemical weapons, echoing denials it has made over the course of the six-year-long Syrian civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands, created the world's worst refugee crisis, and drawn in nations such as Russia, Iran and the United States.

Bodies lie in the parking area of a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack on 4 April, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour)
A Syrian man is taken by civil defence workers to a small hospital in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syriaís northwestern Idlib province, on 4 April, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour)

Russia’s defense ministry said Wednesday that a Syrian airstrike targeting militant workshops producing chemical weapons was responsible for the deaths.

According to a BBC report, the Russian defence ministry acknowledged that Syrian planes had attacked the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. But it said the aircraft had struck a depot producing mines filled with a poisonous substance being made for use in Iraq.

A Syrian child receives treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, on 4 April, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour)
An unconscious Syrian child receives treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack on 4 April, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour)

If confirmed, the incident in Idlib would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in Ghouta near Damascus in August 2013.

First published: 5 April 2017, 19:18 IST
 
Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Priyata thinks in words and delivers in pictures. The marriage of the two, she believes, is of utmost importance. Priyata joined the Catch team after working at Barcroft Media as a picture desk editor. Prior to that she was on the Output Desk of NDTV 24X7. At work Priyata is all about the news. Outside of it, she can't stay far enough. She immerses herself in stories through films, books and television shows. Oh, and she can eat. Like really.

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