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Syria Chemical Attack Death Toll at 72

Syria Chemical Attack Death Toll at 72Syria Chemical Attack Death Toll at 72

The death toll from a suspected chemical attack on a northern Syrian town rose to 72 on Wednesday, as activists and rescue workers found more terrified survivors hiding in shelters near the site of the harrowing assault.

The Damascus and Moscow governments denied they were behind the attack. A Russian Defense Ministry statement later said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian airstrike hit a militant arsenal, AP reported.

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement that Russian military assets registered the strike on a weapons depot and ammunition factory on the town’s eastern outskirts. Konashenkov said the factory produced chemical weapons that were used in Iraq.

The UN Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday in response to the strike and in Brussels, officials from 70 nations gathered for a major donors' conference on the future of Syria and the region.

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 reflected the magnitude of the attack.

Syrian doctors said a combination of toxic gases is suspected to have been released, causing the high death toll and severe symptoms.

The World Health Organization said victims of the attack appear to show symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent.

In a statement, the agency said "the likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparent lack of external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms, including acute respiratory distress as the main cause of death."

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