Syrian activists say chemical attacks killed 6 in Idlib province



A Syrian man walks next to houses attacked by a government forces airstrike in Sarmeen, in Idlib province, northern Syria, on July 4, 2014.
Syrian activists have accused the Assad regime of carrying out a chemical attack on the town of Sarmin in the northern province of Idlib on Monday.
Images and videos circulating on social media support this claim, though no official confirmation has been made.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that six people died from asphyxiation caused by some type of chemical attack. The groups says three children from one family were among the victims.
Dozens were purportedly treated for breathing issues. Disturbing videos described as showing the aftermath of the attack widely circulated on social media on Monday evening; the series of videos were uploaded on and dated March 16. Editor's note: The video footage below may be disturbing.

The Syrian Civil Defense Force, a volunteer group of rescue workers, shared the video above on its Twitter account, stating the footage was taken at one of its medical centers in Idlib. Other footage, which was too graphic to share here, showed the limp body of a toddler wearing a face mask and being tended to by doctors.
A Syrian military official in Damascus denied any government role in the attack and blamed it on anti-Assad rebels. "The army did not and will never use any internationally-prohibited weapon," the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said government helicopters dropped four "barrel bombs," two of which contained chlorine gas. It added that about 70 people suffered breathing problems.

"Unless the U.N. Security Council takes enforceable measures to ensure accountability, we would be fooling ourselves to believe that Assad will stop gassing innocent people in Syria," Coalition spokesman Salem al-Meslet said in a statement.
On Tuesday, local activist groups say the area was again struck in aerial attacks. Footage posted by the same activist group, which has consistently posted dozens of videos documenting attacks in Sarmin since 2012, shows images of metal drums that activists claim were used to carry chemical weapons.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged that the White House was aware of the reports coming from social media during a press briefing on Tuesday but said he could not yet confirm the details.
Earnest said if the allegations were confirmed, they would be "only the latest example of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people" citing the daily terror "through airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, starvation, and the use of chemical weapons" that the regime carries out.
"We continue to take all allegations of chemical weapons use, and in particular these recent allegations regarding the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon, very seriously, and we have long held that any credible allegations of chemical weapons use must be investigated," said Earnest.




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