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Victims of the attack on a town on Syria on Tuesday showed signs of nerve agent gas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

As many as 72 people, including 20 children and 17 children, died after a strike on the town of Khan Sheikhan, in the northern Idlib province. Graphic pictures showed men, women, and children choking and foaming at the mouth.

“Some cases appear to show additional signs consistent with exposure to organosphosporus chemicals, a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents,” WHO said in a statement.

“The likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparently lack of external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms, including acute respiratory distress as the main cause of death,” it went on to say.
Peter Salama, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, expressed his anger at the use of such chemicals as weapons: "The images and reports coming from Idlib today leave me shocked, saddened and outraged. These types of weapons are banned by international law because they represent an intolerable barbarism," he said.

Doctors and activists on the ground — some of whom spoke to BuzzFeed News — said they were treating civilians showed clear signs of exposure to a chemical attack.

Firas al-Jundi, a doctor at the Mara al-Nu'man hospital, about 12 miles from Khan Sheikhoun, told BuzzFeed News people were shocked and lacked awareness. They came suffocated and with "narrowing of the eyeballs".

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Vladimir Putin indicated Russia would stand by the Syrian government, who are their ally in the region. Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov denied that Russian planes were in the area, instead insisting that it was a Syrian strike that had hit a warehouse filled with chemical gas causing the injuries.

"Yesterday [Tuesday], from 11:30am to 12:30pm local time, Syrian aviation made a strike on a large terrorist ammunition depot and a concentration of military hardware in the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun town," Konoshenkov said, adding the warehouses contained workshops which "produced chemical warfare munitions".

However, according to the BBC, the times given by the military spokesperson do not correspond with the time of the attack.

On Tuesday, Turkey's semi-official Anadolu Agency said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Putin, and called the attacks "inhuman" and "unacceptable." Many of the victims are receiving treatment in Turkey.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was "seriously concerned". A fact-finding mission to establish the details of the attack has been launched. A spokesperson declined to comment on further action when contacted by BuzzFeed News.

Witnesses Describe The Scene Of A Major Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack In SyriaOriginal Article