MOSCOW (AFP) – A Syrian air strike hit a “terrorist warehouse” containing “toxic substances”, Moscow said Wednesday, a day after a suspected chemical attack in rebel-held northwest Syria that killed scores of civilians.
“According to the objective data of the Russian airspace control, Syrian aviation struck a large terrorist warehouse near Khan Sheikhun,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
It housed “a warehouse making bombs, with toxic substances”, said the ministry, without stating if the strike was voluntary or deliberate.
“The arsenal of chemical weapons” was destined for fighters in Iraq, the ministry said, adding that the information was “completely reliable and objective.”
The use of such weapons “by terrorists has been repeatedly proved by international organisations as well as official authorities” in Iraq.
The statement did not specify whether the Syrian regime knew there were chemical weapons there and pointed the finger at “terrorists” who they say hold the toxic arms.
At least 72 civilians including 20 children died in a suspected chemical attack on Tuesday in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province in the northwest.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the attack also left dozens suffering respiratory problems and symptoms including vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth.
Syria’s opposition blamed President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, saying the attack cast doubt on the future of peace talks.
The army denied any involvement in a statement blaming “terrorist groups” for using “chemical and toxic substances”.
Rebel groups led by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front vowed revenge for the attack.
The incident brought swift international condemnation, with the United States, France and Britain presenting a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding a full investigation.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Wednesday all evidence points to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being behind the suspected chemical weapons attack.
“All the evidence I have seen suggests this was the Assad regime… using illegal weapons on their own people, Johnson said as he arrived for a Syrian aid conference in Brussels.