Syrian group raises death toll in suspected gas attack to 58

A suspected chemical attack killed at least 58 civilians in rebel-held northwestern Syria on Tuesday, a monitor said, prompting widespread outrage and calls for global action.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes carried out intensive airstrikes on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in the countryside of Idlib province, killing 58 people, mostly civilians.

A chemical attack in Syria is believed to have left at least 50 dead and hundreds injured, many of them children.

In a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, he said the "inhuman attack... risked wasting all the efforts" made on negotiations, presidential sources in Turkey said. That attack, which a United Nations report said was an attack by toxic sarin gas, was the worst in Syria's civil war.

The Britain-based monitoring group was unable to confirm the nature of the substance, and said it was unclear if the planes involved in the attack were Syrian or those of government-ally Russian Federation. "President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing".

Russian planes carried out no strikes in the area of Khan Shaykhun, Idlib Province.

He says warplanes "targeted us after the attack".

The government has denied using chemical weapons in the past.

Western states said the Syrian government was responsible for that attack.

Following the 2013 Ghouta attack, the Syrian government joined the global Chemical Weapons Convention under a U.S.

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

"The National Coalition demands the Security Council convene an emergency session., open an immediate investigation and take the necessary measures to ensure the officials, perpetrators and supporters are held accountable", the body said in a statement. Those attacks killed at least nine civilians.

Tuesday's attack comes only days after forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were accused of using chemical weapons in a counter-offensive in neighbouring Hama province.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

But on Monday, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called Assad a "war criminal" and "a hindrance to peace" and said Tillerson's comment did not mean the US would accept Assad standing for reelection.

  • Salvatore Jensen