Russia, Iran morally responsible for Assad's chemical attacks, US's Tillerson says

The country's emotions ran high as horrific images flooded in from Syria on Tuesday, where dictator Bashar al-Assad killed dozens and wounded hundreds more in a chemical weapon attack on his own people. Several residents were still asleep when the attack happened early Tuesday, Abdullah al-Hussein, a Syria Civil Defense volunteer who was at the scene, told ABC News in a voice recording in Arabic.

All the children were under the age of eight.

Doctors and activists in rebel-held areas have accused the government sharply increasing chemical attacks across Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces since the end of past year.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Russian Federation and Iran "to exercise their influence over the Syrian regime" and that the two nations "bear great moral responsibility for these deaths". The group says all the victims were civilians.

"If proven, this will be further evidence of the barbarism of the Syrian regime, and the United Kingdom has led worldwide efforts to call to account the Syrian regime and Daesh for the use of chemical weapons and I would urge the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate this incident as soon as possible".

The tweet was in reference to a 2013 chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, which was blamed on the Syrian regime and prompted US President Barack Obama to threaten military action.

The army "has not and does not use them, not in the past and not in the future, because it does not have them in the first place", the source said. The Union of Medical Care Organizations, a coalition of global aid agencies funding hospitals, said at least 100 people had died. It also said Islamic State had used sulfur mustard gas.

The OPCW had no immediate comment on Tuesday.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday said that he is "deeply disturbed" by reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib, Syria.

Hassoun, who is documenting the attack for the medical society, said the doctors there have said it is likely more than one gas. "I condemn this disgusting act", French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said. At least 10 children were reported to be among the dead.

Some were seen struggling to breathe, while others appeared to be foaming at the mouth. Most of the town´s streets had become empty, a witness said.

"People are still very lost", he said.

"The Syrian army holds the terrorist groups and those supporting them responsible for the use of chemical and poisonous material and for the careless wasting of innocent civilians' lives to achieve their despicable goals and agendas", the statement said.

Britain, France and the United States are pushing for a vote on the draft text during the meeting on Wednesday, but it remained unclear if Russian Federation would support it, diplomats said.

Airstrikes later hit a hospital where some of the victims were being treated.

The ministry said that "Russian air force planes haven't dealt any strikes on Khan Sheikhoun in the province of Idlib".

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking at a news conference with his German counterpart, had harsh criticism of the Syrian government.

Mrs May said: "I'm appalled by the reports that there's been a chemical weapons attack on a town south of Idlib allegedly by the Syrian regime".

The U.S. has blamed the Syrian government, particularly President Bashar al-Assad, for conducting the attack.

In the wake of the 2013 attack, President Assad agreed to a Russia-sponsored deal to destroy his chemical arsenal and joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Under the deal, Syria agreed to give up its toxic arsenal and surrendered 1,300 tonnes of toxic weapons and industrial chemicals to the global community for destruction.

UN-OPCW investigators found, however, that it continued to use chlorine, which is widely available and hard to trace, in so-called barrel bombs, dropped from helicopters.

  • Leroy Wright