Conflicting Reports of New Chemical Attack in Syria: 'Chlorine-filled Barrel Bombs on Hama'

Reports come days after deadly attack near Idlib killed at least 70 people, including 20 children

Image of alleged new chemical attack in Syria's Hamas
Twitter

Conflicting reports say a new chemical attack has been carried out in Syria, this time on a village in the northern area of Hama, sources said on Thursday. The attack could not be confirmed independently and later reports said plumes of smoke taken to be a gas were in fact just dust from regime bombardments in the town.

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Syrian President Bashar Assad's helicopters reportedly dropped barrel bombs filled with chlorine on the village of Al-Lataminah, rebels claimed. Yellow clouds were reportedly sighted over the village.

A chemical attack killed at least 70 people, including at least 20 children, and injured hundreds more in the northwestern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday. 

The regime strongly denied any role. On Thursday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said the only beneficiary of the chemical attack seems to be Israel, the news website Rudaw English tweeted.

Activists in northern Syria circulated pictures on social media on Tuesday showing a reported victim with foam around his mouth, and rescue workers hosing down almost naked children squirming on the floor.

Following the attack, France urged Russia to exert stronger pressure on the Syrian government to end the country's six-year-long war, and called on the United States to seriously commit to finding a solution to the conflict. 

>> Analysis: With chemical attack, Assad forces rebels into urban 'prison' >>

Western countries blamed Assad's armed forces for the attack. "We're talking about war crimes," French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters ahead of the briefing. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu severely condemned the usage of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. "The horrible images in Syria should shock any human," Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

"Israel calls on the international community to complete its commitment from 2013 and remove the chemical weapons from Syria. The cruel war there highlights our great commandment – forever to protect ourselves against any enemy and against any threat."

>> Opinion: Horrified by Idlib? Nothing new for the Assad terror clan >>

According to Israeli security officials, the attack was approved by the highest levels of the Syrian regime and was intended to convey a threatening message to insurgent groups that have broken the cease-fire agreement over the past two weeks.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday that Syrian planes carried out the two attacks, which were “directly ordered and planned by Syrian President Bashar Assad.” He stressed he was “100 percent certain.” The defense minister said he did not know if Russia was involved in the attack.