Chemical Attack kills 58 in Syria

A man carries the body of a child who died after the chemical attack in Syria. A man carries the body of a child who died after the chemical attack in Syria. Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

18 April 2017
The latest use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government has claimed the lives of at least 58 civilians, renewing calls for the destruction of the country’s chemical arsenal.

On April 4, during an air raid carried out in the northern  Syria, bombs containing toxic gas were dropped on a residential area, causing the death of at least 58 civilians, including 11 children. In addition to those  who died suffocating, a number of survivors suffering the  initial symptoms of a chemical attack -- fainting, difficulty breathing and foaming around the mouth -- were quickly taken into a nearby hospital, which was itself bombed a few hours later . Due to the repeated bombing of medical facilities in Syria, hospitals lack the oxygen needed to keep alive survivors of gas attacks,  making the delivery of life saving treatment extremely challenging.

The  Syrian government and its Russian allies deny any involvement in the attack. The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that chemical substances were not in the bombs, but rather  came from a terrorist warehouse hit during the bombing. While civilian witnesses identified Syrian government’s warplanes during the attack, the Syrian government denies any responsibility.

This is the fourth chemical attack carried out in Syria since 2013, when after a chemical attack perpetrated by the Syrian government, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad submitted to international pressure to eliminate the country’s chemical weapon stockpiles.. Since then, Assad’s government has been found responsible of having violated the treaty at least three times, killing hundreds of civilians.

This latest  attack starkly highlights the international community’s failure to protect Syrian civilians. As  international law prohibits the use of chemical weapons, the international community is now asked to  investigate Tuesday’s attack and to work together to prevent  similar crimes against civilians being perpetrated again.


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