Update: ‘Chemical’ attack in Idlib kills at least 70 Syrians
A picture reportedly showing one of the children killed in a "chemical" attack in Idlib, 4 April 2017. (Facebook/Idlib Civil Defence)
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At least 70 people were killed on Tuesday when government warplanes carried out a chlorine gas attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, according to the opposition National Coalition.
In a statement, the coalition said regime warplanes launched toxic gas raids on Khan Shaykun town in southern Idlib.
“The raids have left 70 people dead and 200 others injured,” the coalition said.
A local civil defense official earlier told Anadolu Agency a regime aircraft carried out a chlorine chemical attack on the town early Tuesday.
“Many children were among the victims,” he said.
Tuesday’s attack came one day after a regime aircraft carried out a similar chlorine gas attack on Al-Habit town in Idlib, affecting dozens.
“We call on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss this crime and open an immediate investigation with a view to taking the necessary measures to hold accountable those responsible for this crime,” the coalition said.
Last year, a UN-appointed investigation panel found that chemical weapons were used by regime forces and opposition fighters in 2014 and 2015. However, no actionable steps were taken.
Chlorine gas is one of several elements and compounds used in devastating chemical attacks, outlawed by international treaties. High level of exposure to the gas can cause suffocation as the chemical injuries in the pulmonary airways result in severe fluid buildup in the lungs, with children and seniors particularly vulnerable.
Since March 2011, the Syrian opposition has demanded an end to more than 44 years of Assad family’s rule and the establishment of a democratic state.
The Syrian regime responded to the protests with military force, pushing the country into a vicious downward spiral of violence, bloody battles and a civil war that is still ongoing between the regime and opposition forces.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, puts the death toll from the six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.
* Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara.