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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – The United Nations is holding an emergency meeting on the suspected chemical attack in Syria that reportedly killed more than 70 people.
One man who survived the attack in Idlib, Syria, said he knows it was chemical because he had trouble breathing and fell to the ground immediately. Another woman said there was rocket explosion and she couldn’t breathe anymore. Many of the injured were taken to hospitals over the border in Turkey.
The assault on the village of Khan Sheikhoun bore all the hallmarks consistent with a chemical weapon. Many of the dead and injured had no visible wounds as you would expect to from an air strike or missile, survivors had breathing problems, some foamed at the mouth and their pupils didn’t respond to light. All that suggests exposure to a nerve agent.
In Brussels, world leaders held a moment of silence for the victims at the start of a conference on the future of Syria. Some blamed the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
The Syrian regime has denied responsibility, as had its ally Russia, though both have targeted Idlib province with airstrikes in the past.
The Russian explanation is that a Syrian strike hit an ammunition depot containing chemical weapons run by rebel forces. A chemical weapons expert, however, has disputed that because a strike on a munitions depot would not have produced that sort of aftermath.
Witnesses, including Dr. Islan Shajul who treated survivors, said the attack happened hours before the Russian claim.
“Soon we will know for a fact what this chemical was. So we only wait to confirm what it was. But we have a high level of suspicion that this was Sarin gas that was used,” said Shajul.
The same deadly substance, Sarin nerve agent, was also used in a 2013 attack which is thought to have killed hundreds. The US and several other countries blamed it on the Syrian regime.
Britian, France, and the United Stated have drafted a proposed U.N. Resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The document also calls for investigators to be given immediate access to air bases that may have been involved in the attacks. Russia has opposed the resolution.