April 5 (UPI) — The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday over a suspected chemical attack in Syria but Russia has dismissed a resolution calling for an investigation.
Dozens of civilians — some officials estimating more than 100 — died due to the bombing on Tuesday on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib province. Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, said some of the airstrike’s victims it treated in a hospital near the Turkish border showed symptoms associated with chemical poisoning.
“Eight patients showed symptoms — including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation — which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds,” MSF said in a statement. “MSF medical teams were also able to visit other hospitals where victims of the attack were being treated, and reported that victims smelt of bleach, suggesting they had been exposed to chlorine. These reports strongly suggest that victims of the attack on Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to at least two different chemical agents.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday in Brussels said “war crimes are going on in Syria” and called for a “very clear investigation to remove all doubts” when asked if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible.
Russia alleges a Syrian airstrike struck a rebel warehouse containing toxic substances but Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, and Syrian monitoring groups, including the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, accuse forces loyal to Assad of carrying out a chemical attack on a civilian population.
The U.N. Security Council drafted a resolution condemning the attack and calling for an investigation but Russia said the resolution was “unacceptable.”
During the meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Syrian chemical attacks would continue if no action was taken.
“Time and time again Russia uses the same false narrative to deflect attention from their ally in Damascus,” Haley said. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?”