Suspected gas attack on Syria's rebel-held Idlib kills at least 35

This photo provided on Tuesday April 4, 2017, by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows a man carrying a child following a suspected chemical attack, at a makeshift hospital in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria.

Russian Federation defended its ally Damascus on Wednesday (Apr 4) in the face of an global outcry over a suspected chemical attack that killed scores of civilians, saying a Syrian air strike hit a "terrorist warehouse". Tillerson called on both countries to use their influence over Assad to prevent future chemical weapons attacks, and noted Russia's and Iran's roles in helping broker a cease-fire through diplomatic talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Then-President Barack Obama was criticized for failing to enforce his "red line" and respond with force to Mr. Assad, after United Nations investigators found evidence of the use of sarin gas.

The air strikes also wounded more than 60 people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, the Observatory said.

The death toll is likely to rise, according to the Union of Medical Care Organizations, a coalition of global aid agencies that funds hospitals in Syria and which is partly based in Paris. The Observatory said the attack on a residential area came in the early hours of Tuesday, when a warplane carried out strikes that released "toxic gas".

Spicer said statements last week by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley "speak to the political realities of the situation in Syria" and that there is no longer a fundamental option of "regime change".

Closer to home, Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu to convene an emergency Security Cabinet session regarding the use of chemical warfare in Syria.

Reuters photographs showed people breathing through oxygen masks and wearing protection suits, while others carried the bodies of dead children, and corpses wrapped in blankets lined up on the ground.

Mounzer Khalil, head of Idlib's health authority, said hospitals in the province were overflowing with victims.

The victims were mostly civilians, it said, and included at least nine children.

"We call upon Russian Federation and Iran, yet again, to exercise their influence over the Syrian regime and to guarantee that this sort of horrific attack never happens again", Tillerson said.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said the attack is "reprehensible and can not be ignored by the civilized world".

Since the civil war began in 2011, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, according to figures issued by the United Nations a year ago.

Britain said he would be guilty of a war crime if it were proved his regime was responsible.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the Syrian army doesn't have any kind of chemical weapons.

In a statement, the Syrian government "categorically rejected" claims that it was responsible, asserting that it does not possess chemical weapons, hasn't used them in the past and will not use them in the future. Shortly after, Syria agreed to a Russian proposal to give up control of its chemical weapons, leading Obama to retreat from threats of military action.

  • Leroy Wright