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PM demands probe as dozens die in chemical weapons attack in Syria

By Gavin Cordon

Theresa May has called for an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria as she condemned the atrocity which has claimed the lives of dozens of people.

The Prime Minister called on Russia to ensure Bashar Assad's regime is brought to an end.

Opposition activists claim that dozens of people died in the attack in a town in the northern province of Idlib, with the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights putting the death toll at 58, including 11 children.

Doctors struggled to cope and videos from the scene showed volunteer medics using fire hoses to wash the chemicals from victims' bodies.

Haunting images of lifeless children piled in heaps was reminiscent of a 2013 chemical assault that left hundreds dead and was the worst in the country's ruinous six-year civil war.

After the 2013 attack, President Bashar Assad's government agreed to destroy its chemical arsenal and join the Chemical Weapons convention.

Mrs May said: "I'm appalled by the reports that there's been a chemical weapons attack on a town south of Idlib allegedly by the Syrian regime. We condemn the use of chemical weapons in all circumstances.

"If proven, this will be further evidence of the barbarism of the Syrian regime, and the UK has led international efforts to call to account the Syrian regime and Daesh for the use of chemical weapons and I would urge the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate this incident as soon as possible.

"I'm very clear that there can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria which is representative of all the Syrian people and I call on all the third parties involved to ensure that we have a transition away from Assad."

The White House called it a "heinous" act that "cannot be ignored by the civilised world".

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that President Donald Trump was "extremely alarmed" by reports of the attack, which he called "reprehensible". Mr Spicer also laid blame on the "weakness and irresolution" of former President Barack Obama's administration, saying that Mr Obama "did nothing" in the wake of previous chemical attacks in Syria.

The Syrian government "categorically rejected" claims that it was responsible, saying it does not possess chemical weapons, has not used them in the past and will not use them in the future. It laid the blame squarely on the rebels, accusing them of fabricating the attack and trying to frame the Syrian government.

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