A Syrian man receives treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, on Tuesday. Warplanes carried out a suspected toxic gas attack that killed at least 58 people including several children.
Poison gas is suspected of augmenting an aerial bombardment of a rebel-held town in Syria’s Idlib province Tuesday, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying at least 11 children are among the 58 people who were killed.
The attack was reportedly carried out in Khan Shaykhun, a town in northwest Syria that sits about halfway between Homs and Aleppo on the country’s main north-south highway.
NPR’s Alison Meuse reports for our Newscast unit from Beirut:
"The opposition-leaning Syrian Observatory says warplanes carried out a number of strikes in the northern town, but that victims died of suffocation. Opposition activists published videos of purported victims, including one showing nine lifeless children. The U.N. finds Syrian government forces have used toxic chemicals in at least three attacks since 2014."
After the initial attacks early Tuesday, a hospital in Khan Shaykhun was also bombarded as it treated victims, according to Agence France-Presse.
The agency reports, "The entrance of the building was hit, bringing down rubble on top of medics who had earlier been seen dousing a steady stream of arrivals to wash away chemical residue."
The Observatory’s report did not specify which government-allied force might have attacked the town. Russia’s defense ministry "strongly dismissed" any allegation that its warplanes had carried out air strikes on Khan Shaykhun, Russian state-run TASS media reports.
An inquiry into the report has been begun by the European-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which reiterated Tuesday that it "strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances."
News of the use of toxic gas comes months after Syria’s government was accused of using chlorine gas in its fight to retake Aleppo. In that instance, dozens of civilians were affected.