Russia Says Syria Strike Hit Rebel 'Toxic' Weapons Depot

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Russia defended its ally Damascus on Wednesday in the face of an international outcry over a suspected chemical attack that killed scores of civilians, saying a Syrian air strike hit a "terrorist warehouse."

The U.N. Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting later Wednesday on the attack, which killed at least 72 civilians, among them 20 children, in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday.

Washington and London have pointed the finger at President Bashar al-Assad's government for the attack, though the regime has denied any use of chemical weapons.

Moscow, which launched a military intervention in 2015 in support of Assad's forces, said the deaths were caused when a Syrian air strike hit a "terrorist warehouse" containing "toxic substances."

The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that the building housed "a warehouse making bombs, with toxic substances," without saying if the strike was accidental or deliberate.

The ministry said the "arsenal of chemical weapons" was intended for fighters in Iraq, describing its information as "completely reliable and objective."

The use of such weapons "by terrorists has been repeatedly proved by international organizations as well as official authorities" in Iraq, it added.

Syria's army had earlier denied any use of chemical weapons, saying it "has never used them, any time, anywhere, and will not do so in the future."

Its denials have done little to quiet international condemnation, with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday saying the "horrific events" showed that "war crimes are going on in Syria."

- 'Dead in the streets' -

Others have blamed Damascus more directly for the attack, including British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who said "all the evidence I have seen suggests this was the Assad regime."

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also pointed the finger at the regime, saying "it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism."

If confirmed, the attack would be among the worst incidents of chemical weapons use in Syria's brutal civil war, which has killed over 320,000 people since it began in March 2011.

It unfolded in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with airplanes carrying out strikes that released "toxic gas" on Khan Sheikun, in the northwestern province of Idlib, according to witnesses and a monitoring group.

"We ran inside the houses and saw whole families just dead in their beds," resident Abu Mustafa told AFP of the attack's aftermath.

"Children, women, old people dead in the streets."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said at least 160 people suffered the effects of the gas, with medical sources reporting incidents of vomiting, fainting, breathing problems and foaming at the mouth.

Medic Hazem Shehwan told AFP he saw victims with "pinpoint pupils, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and rapid pulses."

Medics worked frantically in the hours after the attack to treat a steady stream of patients, administering oxygen and hosing down victims to wash off chemical residue.

Even as they worked, air strikes hit a medical facility treating victims, an AFP correspondent said, bringing rubble down on top of medics and patients.

- Security Council resolution -

Air strikes hit Khan Sheikun again on Wednesday morning, the Observatory said. There were no immediate details on a toll.

Syria officially relinquished its chemical arsenal and signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, to avert military action after it was accused of an attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use since, with a U.N.-led investigation pointing the finger at the regime for at least three chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was "seriously concerned" by reports of Tuesday's attack.

The U.N.'s Commission of Inquiry for Syria said it had also begun investigating the "alleged use of chemical weapons".

Britain, France and the United States were to present a resolution to the Security Council Wednesday calling for the OPCW to quickly report findings on the attack.

But it was unclear if Russia would veto the measure, as it has often done with previous Security Council resolutions concerning Syria.

The text calls on Syria to provide flight plans, flight logs and other information on its military operations on the day of the assault.

Successive rounds of peace talks aimed at ending Syria's civil war have failed to produce results, and Syria's opposition warned Tuesday that the attack cast doubt on the prospects for future negotiations.

Comments 27
Thumb gigahabib 05 April 2017, 12:24

Sounds much more likely. Syria has nothing to benefit from using chemical weapons, not to mention the fact that they don't have any...

Thumb marcus 05 April 2017, 12:52

if you say so shia troll, if you say so.

Thumb Southern...... 05 April 2017, 16:04

one has to ask one simple question!.... does it benefit the Syrian govt attacking its own people having the internationl stance in favour and the army is in control over the terrorist groups!?, the answer is simple too, NO.

therefore, the only benefiary of such attack is the so-called opposition terrorist groups who feel abandoned and without horizon... they did it.

Missing peace 05 April 2017, 18:52

it benefits the syrian regime poor southern.. why? spread more terror knowing that the russians have his back he believes he is untouchable so one massacre more or less he don't care...

1/ why would he bomb a depot knowing it contains chemicals as the russians claim? they know that the chemicals would spread around and kill...
or 2/ if the regime bombed with chemicals it will result the same.

SO in both cases he knew he would spread horror with your full approval ...!!!!

Thumb 05 April 2017, 13:17

the 6 millions readers that visit Naharnet everyday are sick and tired of reading Iranian propaganda. you're kindly asked to lower the amount of daily rubbish you spew on here.

Thumb justin 05 April 2017, 14:27

lol @flamethrower

Thumb Southern...... 05 April 2017, 16:03

one has to ask one simple question!.... does it benefit the Syrian govt attacking its own people having the internationl stance in favour and the army is in control over the terrorist groups!?, the answer is simple too, NO.

therefore, the only benefiary of such attack is the so-called opposition terrorist groups who feel abandoned and without horizon... they did it.

Thumb thepatriot 05 April 2017, 19:40

lol yeah right!

Thumb ashtah 05 April 2017, 12:55

sounds much more like mowaten's story. Yes of course from complete denial to now bombing a toxic weapons depot. I wonder why the rebels never used them on assad and hezbollah in Aleppo.

Thumb ashtah 05 April 2017, 12:59

That does not make assad and his criminal regime less guilty. Bombing a toxic weapons depot intentionally is as bad as dropping the chemical weapons themselves. What did the regime think would happen to the sarin gas after they bombed the toxic depot?... that it would disappear or cause a massacre?

Russia and Assad's stories are as usual mere lies and propaganda.

Thumb Mystic 05 April 2017, 13:05

Then why do you salafis have depots and warehouses full of toxic substances?

Thumb 05 April 2017, 14:12

hayalla32, what you write makes sense and is purely logic. but you're dealing with paid propagandists who are literally financed by Khamanei and Bachar. There's nothing you can say to change their mind, their blood money / persian dollars are stronger than any of your arguments.
However, the readers know the truth, they are mostly Lebanese and know what Bachar and father did to Lebanon. Even the mituelians have suffered and disappeared under the Assads. Those who are pro Syria today have sold their souls to the devil.

Thumb justin 05 April 2017, 14:28

so those children were not 'sedated' after all as mowaten/flamethrower said yesterday..... they did actually die.

Thumb Mystic 05 April 2017, 14:55

First a toxic warehouse gets blown up, the gas hits the Nusra front and their White helmet allies.

To gain sympathy from the West and other pro salafi organisations, they sedate the children on the pictures.

Because we never saw any outcry to Yemeni children blown to bits and piles of little Arms and legs laying around, but babies with gas masks are more credible for the West.

Thumb justin 05 April 2017, 15:45


Thumb Mystic 05 April 2017, 16:23

Sorry, Yemen does not have White Helmets hollywood stars filming and running around.

Yemen is besieged by America not the Saudi Arabia, it is the American fleet that surrounds Yemen and stops the food from coming in to the people in need.

America is a war criminal, Trump is a criminal he bans muslims from coming to America, and whom backs his ideas? The Saudi Princes.

Thumb Mystic 05 April 2017, 17:31

If Naharnet deletes this, I will just repost it.
This is what Saudi Arabia and America does to the children of Yemen.
We see no global outrage or Western sympathy for these children in Yemen.

Why? Because Britain, France and America provides the weapons to the Saudis that kills these children.

Thumb gigahabib 05 April 2017, 13:16

They used chem weapons on Kurds and Iraqi armies before, this is well known. Perhaps also on the Syrian army.

Thumb 05 April 2017, 14:03

Did you read about the Hama massacre? 2 feb 1982, 38.000 souls Murdered By Hafez Assad and his brother Rifaat. what about the Halabja massacre? 16 March 1988 killing 5000 kurds by Saddam Hussein and his cousin Chemical Ali? Chemical attacks are in the genes of these diseased lineage. The sons of Hafez are the scum of the earth just like the sons of Saddam were before being rightfully dealt with. Anyone who defends or supports such people is the lie de l'Humanité, there's no other words to describe such people.

Thumb gigahabib 05 April 2017, 15:21

Hama was an armed Muslim Brotherhood uprising, nothing more, nothing less.

Thumb _mowaten_ 05 April 2017, 16:30

38.000 only? are you sure they werent 38 million?

Thumb justin 05 April 2017, 16:35

the mowaten irani is here now so he will perfect the propaganda

Missing peace 05 April 2017, 18:57

of course for the hezbi trolls hama was never a massacre perpetrated by the syrian regime... just like they deny the massacres the regime did in lebanon... and thanked syria instead!

Missing peace 05 April 2017, 19:11

you ve been there yourself to tell? LOL

Missing peace 05 April 2017, 19:20

do they need to be right in the city to treat patients? the doctors cannot tell if the people suffer from chemicals?
so the patients they treated were not from idlib too then...

a whole world conspiracy it seems for hezbi lovers....

Thumb thepatriot 05 April 2017, 19:46

I just love the competition between Southy and Mowateh... I really wonder which one of'em will be Idiot of the year...

Missing peace007 05 April 2017, 20:22

What's going on in Syria and Yemen is a crime. Nobody involved in the conflict is clean. We should all be able to agree on that.