Syria chemical attack death toll now at 72; new strikes hit

Nikki Haley U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. from AP  Beteto Matthews

They say a chemical weapons attack on a town in northern Syria on Tuesday killed dozens of people.

Both the UK and France have called for an emergency Security Council meeting at the United Nations in NY.

He says the strikes did not cause any casualties because the area had been evacuated following Tuesday's attack. Witnesses say the attack was carried out by either Russian or Syrian Sukhoi jets. A member of the White Helmets, a rescue group that operates in rebel-held areas, said that up to 300 people had been injured.

A statement by the Syrian government said it "categorically rejects" using any chemical or poisonous agents in Khan Sheikhoun today and says it did not and will not use them in any place or any time in the past or future.

"The UN Secretary-General called to fully investigate the incident, we fully support him".

Haley's remarks mark a change in tone from the initial reaction from the Trump administration, which focused Tuesday on blaming former President Barack Obama for not following through on a threat to Assad that a chemical weapons attack would cross a "red line" and lead to military action.

European Union president Donald Tusk said Assad's government bore "primary responsibility for the atrocities", adding "all those who support the regime share the moral and political responsibility".

The idea that the Syrian opposition would be able to build the covert supply chain to make a nerve agent and then would move it around and store it in a warehouse, rather than a bunker, makes no sense, Kaszeta said.

Speaking to AFP, medic Hazem Shehwan said victims of the earlier attack had symptoms including "pinpoint pupils, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, and rapid pulses". They said they could not identify the planes.

Experts from the agency were part of a United Nations team that found "clear and convincing evidence" that Sarin was delivered by surface-to-surface rockets "on a relatively large scale" in the Ghouta area of the Syrian capital Damascus in August 2013.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov said,"On the territory of the depot there were workshops, which produced chemical warfare munitions".

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey hopes the United Nations will punish the attack's perpetrators in the name of humanity.

Late last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley made it clear that the Trump administration accepted Bashar Assad's continued rule in Syria.

UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft condemned prior vetoes by China and Russian Federation, which blocked global action on Syria.

"This was a sustained attack over a number of hours", Britain's Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the council. She called for immediate investigations to determine what chemicals may have been used and noted that in February Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on the Syrian government for its repeated use of chemical weapons - for the seventh time. "We know that if nothing is done, these attacks will continue".

Trump earlier described Tuesday's incident as "heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime" and faulted Obama for having failed to enforce the red line four years ago.

French President Francois Hollande accused the Syrian government of a "massacre".

"It is now my responsibility", Trump said.

He said the army doesn't have any type of chemical weapons and "we have never used them and we will never use them".

The UN Security Council was to meet later on Wednesday to debate a Western-drafted resolution condemning the air strike.

"Assad must be held accountable for these barbaric attacks against his own people", Haley wrote.

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