Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Sarin or similar used in Idlib attack - chemical weapons watchdog

Sarin or similar used in Idlib attack - chemical weapons watchdog

Sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in an attack in Syria's Idlib province on April 4 that killed almost 90 people, the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday.

The US responded to the attack by launching air strikes on a Syrian military airfield. Spicer had to later clarify that if the barrel bombs-a weapon routinely used by Syrian forces-contained chemical agents, then a military response would be possible.

At least 86 people, including 30 children, were killed in the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, a rebel-held area in north-western Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. The assessment was confirmed by two other defense officials, AP said.

A senior military official told the AP that the regime is believed to possess between one and three tons of chemical weapons. Syria began developing chemical weapons in the 1980s with the aim of using them against enemy states, including its neighbor Israel.

This comes two weeks after a chemical attack that killed almost 90 people in Syria.

The missile strike was the first direct USA military action against Assad's forces since the start of Syria's civil war six years ago and precipitated a downward spiral in ties between Washington and Moscow.

"Israel fully supports President Trump's decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime's horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere", said a statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The attack in Khan Sheikhoun has been widely blamed on the Syrian government, though Damascus denies it had anything to do with the attack and also denies it has any chemical weapons.

The attack in Syria prompted the United States to launch its first military strike on the Syrian regime in the six-year war, causing a major rift between Washington and Moscow.

The Assad regime has used chemical weapons before. Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013.

Dan Kaszeta, a United Kingdom -based chemical weapons expert, said the Israeli estimate appeared to be conservative, but nonetheless was enough to be highly lethal.

The UN said sarin had been used in that attack, which killed hundreds of people in the Ghouta agricultural belt to the west and east of the capital.

Images from the attack on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 showed victims limp, with pinpoint eyes and frothing mouths, as emergency responders rushed to strip clothes from bodies and hose away chemical substances.

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