TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic content
In what is being described as one of the worst chemical bombings in Syria’s six-year civil war, a rebel-held area was bombed with a chemical possibly containing a banned nerve agent. The Tuesday attack at Khan Sheikhoun in the northern Idlib province is reported to have killed 58 people, including 11 children.
In this video report by AJ Plus, victims of the attack can be seen frothing at the mouth, writhing, and choking – a sign that points to the use of a nerve agent. This is the third suspected chemical attack in Syria in just over a week. The previous two attacks were reported from the nearby Hama province. The hospital where the injured were being treated was also bombed hours after the chemical attack.
Russia, which is backing President Bashar-al-Assad in the civil war, and the Syrian military have denied carrying out the attack but offered contradictory explanations for it. While the Syrian military accused the insurgents, Russia’s defence ministry said Syrian warplanes had struck an insurgent storehouse which stocked toxic substances.
Since the attack, the United States, Britain, and France have proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the attack. The draft resolution, which is likely to be put to a vote on Wednesday, asks for an international investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia and China have previously vetoed actions by the council in Syria. Their response to the current resolution wasn’t, however, known at the time of writing this report.
While claims of chlorine attacks, which are less deadly, are common in the conflict, it is being claimed that the chemical used in this particular attack was the banned toxin – Sarin gas.
In another chemical attack in August 2013, over a thousand people, including hundreds of children were killed in the suburbs of Damascus. After the 2013 attack, Assad had signed a deal to eliminate chemical weapons. However, whether all the chemicals were eliminated or not was doubtful. The video report explains why it is being claimed that Sarin was again used in the attack on Tuesday.