At least 70 people, including at least 10 children, have been killed in one of the deadliest chemical attacks in Syria in years, several news outlets reported.
The Airstrikes hit the rebel-held city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday morning, giving off a “poisonous gas.” according to Anas al-Diab, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center, CNN reported.
The attack, which was perpetrated by the forces tied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has reportedly left hundreds injured. Many of the casualties came as a result of asphyxiation, local doctors say. Videos circulating on social media purporting to be from the scene show people, including children, who appear unresponsive; others are seen struggling to breathe or wearing oxygen masks.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one doctor said.
At first, people were unaware it was a gas attack, Abdullah said. People who rushed to help others were also overtaken by the gas. These included several White Helmets, who had to be rescued by others from the group, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense.
Right now, the Aleppo Media Center put the death toll from the attack at 70. However, the chaotic situation on the ground has led to conflicting numbers. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 58 were dead, including 10 children. The High Negotiations Committee, an umbrella opposition group, claimed the death toll could be as high as 100.
US Sen. John McCain called Tuesday for President Donald Trump to send a strong signal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the attack will not be tolerated.
But instead of condemning the Assad regime and its Russian backers, the Trump administration first reacted by blaming former president Barack Obama for the attack.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that the gas attack is a “consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.”
Spicer added: “President (Barack) Obama said in 2012 he would establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.”
Since the war began in 2011, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, according to figures issued by the United Nations last year.