A government-sponsored chemical attack killed 58 people and injured more than 250 others in Syria on April 4.
Warplanes dropped chemical bombs in the northern Idlib province, according to The New York Times. The majority of casualties were civilians, according to The Telegraph, in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.
“They couldn’t talk, they couldn’t move, they couldn’t breathe,” Samer al-Yusuf, a father of four, told The Telegraph. “Most of them were women and children.”
“It’s a shocking act,” Mohamad Firas Al-Jindi, the Minister of Health for the opposition in Syria, said. “The world knows and is aware of what’s happening in Syria, and we are ready to submit evidence to criminal laboratories to prove the use of these gasses.”
A suspected nerve agent left people choking, struggling to breathe, and foaming at the mouth, according to The New York Times.
Northern Syria is accustom to chlorine gas attacks, according to The New York Times, but chlorine is short lasting, has few deaths, and mostly impacts those in enclosed spaces. The chemical dropped in the town of Khan Sheikhoun impacted a greater number of people than would be expected in a chlorine attack and the symptoms were more severe.
Tuesday’s attack was the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since August 2013, according to The New York Times. The 2013 attack led to the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty banning chemical weapons, which Syria was a part of.
Bashar al-Assad renounced chemical weapons four years ago at the convention and has continually denied his military’s involvement in any subsequent attacks. Since the treaty was signed in 2013 and the cease-fire was established in 2016, the Assad regime has violated both numerous times.
Tuesday’s attack began before 7 a.m., according to The New York Times, followed hours later by an airstrike on one of the clinics treating the victims. An airstrike on Sunday damaged the area hospital, leading to victims being taken to local clinics rather than a hospital.
Rescue workers rushed to hose victims down with water as they removed their clothes to stop chemical exposure to their bodies, according to The New York Times.
The Syrian Civil Defense organization, commonly known as “the White Helmets,” reported that five of their volunteers had fallen ill after being exposed to the gas, and other rescue workers became ill after contact with the dead, according to The New York Times
The United Kingdom, France, and United States urged the United Nation’s Security Council on Tuesday to condemn the attack – a difficult request due to the politicization of the Security Council on Syria.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the attack one that “cannot be ignored by the civilized world…the United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act.”
Republican Senator from Arizona, Senator John McCain told CNN that he hopes a foreign policy doctrine on Syria and Russia’s involvement with Assad will soon emerge from the administration.