Syrian chemical attack crime against humanity, says Italy

Violet Powell
April 5, 2017

The SOHR said 11 children are included in the death toll, which is expected to rise because there are more than 160 people injured, some of them critically.

The attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun killed at least 58 civilians and left dozens more suffering from respiratory problems and symptoms including vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian government is suspected of carrying out the attack in a rebel-held area of the country.

Opposition activtists and the AFP news agency, citing one of its journalists on the scene, later said a rocket had slammed into a hospital where the victims were being treated, bringing rubble down on medics as they struggled to deal with victims.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use by the government since then, with a UN-led investigation pointing the finger at the regime for at least three chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015.

Turkey has been a major foe of President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria throughout the Syrian civil war, repeatedly accusing Damascus of war crimes.

The attack posed a sharp challenge to the Trump administration, which has said it wants to shift its focus away from the civil war and onto the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Britain and France said they hoped to press demands at the Security Council for those behind the use of toxic gas in the six-year war to be held accountable. In our latest report, we documented that Syrian government forces conducted coordinated chemical attacks in November and December 2016 during the final stages of the battle for Aleppo.

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Mohammed Tennari, AbdulHaj's brother and a radiologist, said Tuesday's attack was more severe than previous chemical attacks his province has witnessed, a lot of them using chlorine cylinders.

The pro-opposition Edlib Media Centre (EMC) posted a large number of photographs of people receiving treatment, as well as images showing what appeared to be the bodies of at least seven children in the back of a pick-up truck.

Following the 2013 attack, Syria joined the worldwide Chemical Weapons Convention under a U.S.

A joint investigation by the United Nations and the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog determined the Syrian government was behind at least three attacks in 2014 and 2015 involving chlorine gas and that the Islamic State group was responsible for at least one, involving mustard gas.

"The toll continues to increase as do the strikes in the Idlib region as well as non-chemical attacks in Hama", the group said.

The Syrian activists had no information on what agent could have been used in the assault.

Idlib province is largely controlled by an alliance of Syrian rebel forces and is regularly targeted in airstrikes by the Syrian government and its ally, Russia.

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