Suspected gas attack in Syria reportedly kills dozens

If confirmed, the incident reported in the town of Khan Sheikhoun would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians in Ghouta near Damascus in August 2013.

Opposition activists and a doctor in Idlib said it was the worst incident since the 2013 gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta that killed hundreds of civilians and which a United Nations investigation said used sarin gas.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stands accused of killing dozens of his own people in a chemical attack today, the worst such attack in years.

There are already sanctions in place against the Syrian regime.

Many casualties were the result of asphyxiation, doctors said.

"Bashar Assad and his friends, the Russians, take note of what Americans say", he said on CNN.

The Security Council backed that deal with a resolution that said in the event of non-compliance, "including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone" in Syria, it would impose measures such as sanctions.

It was the third claim of a chemical attack in just over a week in Syria. "President Obama, do not attack Syria".

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said he is deeply disturbed by reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the United Nations body that oversees global bans on chemical weapons, said it was gathering information about the attack.

The Syrian Coalition, an umbrella opposition group, referred to the suspected chemical attack as a "crime similar to that in Eastern Ghouta in 2013 that the worldwide community allowed to pass without accountability or punishment".

Several officials involved in internal administration discussions said Trump's National Security Council had been preparing a different statement, until the president's closest advisers took over the process.

Without providing proof, the US government condemned the gas attack as "heinous actions" by the Syrian government.

Warplanes later struck near a medical point where victims of the attack were receiving treatment, the Observatory and civil defence workers said.

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".

US Sen. John McCain called for President Donald Trump to send a strong signal to Assad that the attack will not be tolerated.

Referring to the 2013 chemical attack, McCain told CNN: "We've seen this movie before, it was when Barack Obama said they would have a red line, they crossed it and he did nothing".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ignored questions from reporters about the attack at a photo availability with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the State Department.

The Russian statement follows an global outcry over what was described as a chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun. It held "terrorist groups" responsible for using chemical weapons.

"Unlike the previous administration though, this one is making explicit what was implicit under Obama: The goal was not getting rid of Assad but destroying ISIS", he said, using an acronym for Islamic State. In comments to the official news agency SANA, a Foreign Ministry official said the country's military has no chemical weapons of any kind.

  • Leroy Wright