Syria strike evidence points to nerve gas attack

The worldwide community has strongly condemned the chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, a town in the northern province of Idlib.

In the days before the attack, Secretary of State Tillerson told the press "The longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people".

The US president accused Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's government of going "beyond a red line" with a poison gas attack on civilians.

Early U.S. assessments show the attack most likely involved chlorine and traces of the nerve agent sarin, according to two U.S. officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly about intelligence assessments and demanded anonymity.

"China firmly opposes the use of chemicals as weapons by any country, any organization or any person under any circumstances", said Liu. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement that Russian military assets registered the strike on a weapons depot and ammunition factory on the town's eastern outskirts.

Since the attack Tuesday in rebel-held territory in northern Syria, Trump has been under increasing pressure to explain whether the attack would bring a US response. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group put the toll at 86 killed.

"Some cases appear to show additional signs consistent with exposure to organophosphorus chemicals, a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents", the United Nations agency said. Rescue workers hose down the limp bodies of small children, trying to wash away chemicals.

Haunting images of lifeless children piled in heaps reflected the magnitude of the attack, which was reminiscent of a 2013 chemical assault that left hundreds dead and was the worst in the country's six-year conflict.

The US has strongly condemned the attack and blamed Assad, and Tillerson is heading to Russian Federation in a week's time.

It was important for the United States, starting with President Trump on down, to come out forcefully against the attack Tuesday and Wednesday. Francis told his weekly general audience that he witnessed events in Syria "with horror".

Tuesday's attack happened just 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Turkish border, and the Turkish government - a close ally of Syrian rebels - set up a decontamination centre at a border crossing in the province of Hatay, where the victims were initially treated before being moved to hospitals. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also indicated this weekend that the United States would not seek to unseat Assad.

Trump's willingness to accept that he now bears some responsibility for Syria's conflict marks a significant moment for an "America First" president who has vowed to focus narrowly on USA interests.

It stresses that the Syrian government, under previous Security Council resolutions, is obligated to provide OPCW investigators and a UN-OPCW team charged with assessing blame for chemical attacks with information on all flight plans and air operations on April 4 and the names of commanders of any helicopter squadrons. Russia's military, insisting Assad wasn't responsible, has said the chemicals were dispersed when a Syrian military strike hit a facility where the rebels were manufacturing weapons for use in Iraq. Rebels have also shelled civilian areas, but their weapons are less powerful.

Diplomats were also meeting in Brussels for a major donors' conference on the future of Syria and the region.

  • Salvatore Jensen