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US 'disturbed' by deadly chlorine attack in Syria

At least six people, including three children, were killed Monday in an alleged chlorine bomb attack on the Syrian province of Idlib
US Secretary of State John Kerry says Assad government's alleged chlorine attack must be condemned by entire international community

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the US is "deeply disturbed" by the alleged chlorine attack in northern Syria earlier this week carried out by Syrian government forces.

"While we cannot yet confirm details, if true, this would be only the latest tragic example of the Assad regime's atrocities against the Syrian people, which the entire international community must condemn," Kerry said in press release. 

At least six people, including three children, were killed late Monday in an alleged chlorine bomb attack on the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, according to a Syrian opposition coalition.

A statement from the Syrian Revolution General Commission released on Tuesday said that the government airstrikes targeted the opposition-controlled villages of Sermin and Qminas. Hospitals in the area were reportedly overwhelmed with dozens of patients.

The coalition described the attack as a “massacre” and feared the death toll may rise because of the lack of adequate medical aid in the area.

"[The] regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention," Kerry said.

The international community "cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism," he added.

Amnesty International, one of several monitors that have documented repeated use of proscribed weapons by government forces, dubbed the attack a “fresh war crime”.

On Wednesday, the main umbrella group of Syrian opposition factions urged the UN to establish a no-fly zone in Syria.
 
Najib Ghadbian, the UN representative of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, said individual member states should bypass the deadlocked council to establish the zone.
"The Security Council has the legal authority and responsibility to take such action. 
 
But given the propensity of two of its members recklessly and repeatedly to wield their vetoes in support of the Syrian regime, we must look outside the Security Council for help," said Ghadbian, referring to Russia and China, which have blocked four resolutions addressing the conflict.

The Syrian civil war, which entered a fifth year this month, has claimed more than 220,000 lives, according to the UN.

Helicopters were seen dropping barrels, which released a suffocating gas on impact with the ground.

"Attacking a village and its civilian population with chlorine shows once again that the Syrian conflict knows no limits," said Dr. Mego Terzian, President of MSF France.