Dozens of civilians, among them children, were killed and more than 200 were injured in an airstrike early Tuesday that released “toxic gas” on a town in northwest Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group, put the number of dead at 58, although unconfirmed reports said over 100 were killed.
The nature of the substance has yet to be confirmed, but a British doctor at the scene tweeted that the chemical released was sarin gas.
The Syrian Coalition, an opposition group based outside the country, said government planes carried out the airstrike on Khan Sheikhoun, south of the city of Idlib, the provincial capital. Rights groups have long accused President Bashar Assad of deploying chemical weapons against his own citizens.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the deaths of 11 children from chemical exposure, but footage posted on Twitter showed some 20 young children lying motionless in a room.
Hours after the attack, a rocket slammed into a hospital as doctors treated victims, destroying part of the building, an AFP correspondent said. The projectile brought down rubble on top of medics as they struggled to deal with victims of the attack.
The province of Idlib is almost entirely controlled by the Syrian opposition. It is home to some 900,000 displaced Syrians, according to the United Nations. Rebels and opposition officials have expressed concerns that the government is planning to mount a concentrated attack on the crowded province.
The Jewish people can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The new Hamas charter, set to be published in the coming days, will reportedly not include racist rhetoric against Jews akin to that in the original version, which made reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Rather, only statements negating Zionism and the State of Israel have made it into the updated charter, according to a draft leaked to the Lebanon-based news outlet al-Mayadeen this week.
The document reportedly states that the terror group “distinguishes between the Jews, as the people of the book (i.e., the Bible), and Judaism as a religion on the one hand, and between the occupation and the Zionist project, on the other, and believes that the conflict with the Zionist project is not a conflict with the Jews because of their religion.”
While Hamas will not of course recognize the State of Israel, it does agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, while stressing that it will preserve weapons of “resistance” in order to liberate the entire land of Palestine, including Israel
“There is no alternative to the liberation of the entirety of Palestine, from the river to the sea, no matter how long the occupation persists,” the leaked document continues, leaving no doubt as to the fact that the ultimate goal of the group, which has always included Israel’s destruction, hasn’t changed.
Let’s start at the international level: the case Hamas is making to the West is, “We are not anti-Semites, only anti-Zionists.”
Having internalized the enormous weight that the world attaches to anti-Semitic and other racist rhetoric, Hamas is trying to present a different face that would distinguish it primarily from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The group no longer speaks using the language of “Western infidels and crusaders,” as its even more radical competitors do.
People pried through piles of rocks and wooden planks that entombed homes. Streets were covered in thick sand, mud and tree limbs from the rivers and rainforest that surround the city. There was little drinking water and no power, which forced authorities to suspend the search and rescue effort during the night. (AP)
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