President Donald Trump has warned of a “big price to pay” for a chemical attack in Syria that reportedly left dozens dead.
The Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organization, announced that 49 people were killed by poisonous gas. Other accounts have estimated an even higher death toll, Reuters news reported.
“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
In another Tweet, Trump placed some of the blame on former President Barack Obama.
Trump wrote the tweets after the White Helmets, a civil defense force, announced that entire families were gassed to death Saturday night in Douma and East Ghouta, USA Today reported.
The group estimated that more than 500 people — mostly women and children — were brought to area medical centers with symptoms that suggest exposure to a chemical agent. Patients suffered from “respiratory distress, burned eyes, foaming of the mouth and other symptoms that included "emission of chlorine-like odor," according to the report.
The Russian and Syrian governments have both denied any wrongdoing. Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, who heads Russia's center for Syrian reconciliation, called the White Helmets’ announcement “fake news,” according to USA Today.
"We strongly reject this information and confirm readiness, after Douma is liberated from militants, to send Russian specialists in radiation, chemical and biological protection to collect data to confirm that these statements are fabricated," Yevtushenko said.
Has this happened before?
Syrians have been attacked with chemical weapons before.
About one year ago, government forces killed nearly 100 people, including women and children, in Syria’s Idlib province. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog group, investigated the matter and “confirmed that Sarin nerve gas was used on the town of Khan Sheikhoun,” USA Today reported.