At least 58 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in north-western Syria, the BBC reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that strikes on Khan Sheikhoun by Syrian government or Russian jets had caused many people to choke. Later, aircraft fired rockets at local clinics treating survivors, medics and activists said.
A Syrian military source denied the government had used any such weapons. Russia’s defence ministry meanwhile insisted it had not carried out any air strikes in the vicinity. If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest chemical attacks in Syria’s civil war. The warplanes are reported to have attacked Khan Sheikhoun, about 50km (30 miles) south of the city of Idlib, early on Tuesday, when many people were asleep.
Hussein Kayal, a photographer for the pro-opposition Edlib Media Center (EMC), has told the Associated Press that he was awoken by the sound of an explosion at about 06:30 (03:30 GMT). When he reached the scene, there was no smell, he said.
He found people lying on the floor, unable to move and with constricted pupils, he added. Mohammed Rasoul, the head of a charity ambulance service in Idlib, told the BBC that his medics had found people, many of them children, choking in the street. The Syrian Observatory (SOHR) quoted medics as saying that they had been treating people with symptoms including fainting, vomiting and foaming at the mouth.