Monday 24 April 2017

'Dozens killed' in suspected chemical attack in Syrian province

A man breathes through an oxygen mask as another one receives treatments, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria Photo: Reuters/Ammar Abdullah
A man breathes through an oxygen mask as another one receives treatments, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria Photo: Reuters/Ammar Abdullah
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Dozens of people have been killed in a suspected chemical attack in a town in Syria's northern Idlib province, opposition activists claimed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group put the death toll at 35, among them 10 children, while the Idlib Media Centre also said dozens had been killed.

The activists did not release any details on what agent could have been used in the assault. They claimed the attack was caused by an air strike carried out either by the Syrian government or Russian warplanes.

The province of Idlib is almost entirely controlled by the Syrian opposition. It is home to some 900,000 displaced Syrians, according to the United Nations.

Rebels and opposition officials have expressed concerns that the government is planning to mount a concentrated attack on the crowded province.

There was no comment from the government in Damascus or any international agency on the attack.

Men mourn the death of their relatives after airstrikes in the rebel held besieged Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria Photo: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh
Men mourn the death of their relatives after airstrikes in the rebel held besieged Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria Photo: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

The reports came on the eve of a major international meeting in Brussels on the future of Syria and the region, hosted by the EU's High Representative Federica Mogherini.

The Syrian Coalition, an opposition group based outside the country, said government planes carried out the air strike on Khan Sheikhoun, south of the city of Idlib, the provincial capital.

It said the planes fired missiles carrying poisonous gases, killing dozens of people, many of them women and children. The coalition described the attack as a "horrifying massacre".

Photos and video emerging from Khan Sheikhoun showed limp bodies of children and adults. Some are seen struggling to breathe, while others appear to be foaming at the mouth.

A doctor said his hospital in Idlib province received three victims, all with narrow, pinpoint pupils that did not respond to light.

Pinpoint pupils, breathing difficulties and foaming at the mouth are symptoms commonly associated with toxic gas exposure.

The opposition's Civil Defence search-and-rescue group, which released photos showing paramedics washing down victims, has not published a casualty toll.

The activist-run Assi Press published video of paramedics carrying victims from the scene by a pick-up truck.

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