In several air strikes carried out throughout Syria today, 58 people were killed and dozens were wounded. It is believed the majority of casualties were civilians, including 11 children.
Many people suffered from nausea and had difficulties breathing. Some had foam pouring out of their mouth and several went unconscious. Medical workers had to spray the victims with water hoses to clean their skin from deadly substances.
Several human rights activists released footages which depict bodies of dead children lying in the streets. However, the credibility of these reports is questioned. Syrian rebels and government force immediately started blaming each other. However, there are some reports that suggest that the Islamic State could be behind these attacks. But neither its leaders nor the Syrian government provided any comments on this matter.
Syrian locals who witnessed the attacks reported that the strikes were carried out in the early morning. They reported hearing planes in the sky, which were followed by a series of loud explosions, after which people very quickly began to show symptoms. They were unable to identify the planes. Both Russian and Syrian fighter jets have bombed the area before.
Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Tajip Erdogan, held a telephone conference during which they discussed the newly developing situation in the region. Erdogan expressed his concerns over the use of chemical weapons, saying that “such inhumane actions are unacceptable”. He and Putin agreed that a new truce must be enforced in Syria and that future atrocities must be prevented.
Russian Ministry of foreign affairs also reacted, stating that the Russian Air force had been bombing rebel positions near Idlib, and that the Syrian Army is providing ground support.
During their hearing at the UN Security Council, Syrian opposition claimed that President Bashar Al Asaad was behind the attacks and called the international community to launch an investigation and bring him and his administration to justice. However, in an interview for Reuters, Syrian military officials denied rumors that they were behind the attacks and explained that the Syrian army had never used chemical weapons.
The attacks were also condemned by several UN and EU officials. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that “the use of chemical weapons, as well as any deliberate targeting of medical facilities, wound amount to war crimes and violations of human rights law”. Meanwhile, the European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said that it was “quite obvious there is a primary responsibility from the regime because it has the primary responsibility to protect its own people”.
Syria has been suffering great damage and lots of casualties in the recent few weeks, after skirmishes between several belligerents intensified. On Sunday, suspected Russian jet bombed a hospital in another city in the Idlib province, wounding several people.
The Islamic state was suppressed to the eastern provinces, but coalition forces were unable to seize several important strategic points and were forced to retreat, spawning several new skirmishes.