A suspected chemical weapons attack, reported to be Sarin gas has been alleged in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province held by rebels against the Assad regime. Either Syrian or Russian jets according to Syrian activist sources, dropped a bomb that has killed up to 58 civilians including 11 children on Tuesday.

This is worst attack of its kind during the bloody six-year war.  It was also the third claim of a chemical attack in just the past week in Syria. The previous two were reported in Hama province, in an area not far from Khan Sheikhoun, where Tuesday’s alleged chemical attack occurred.

Mohammed Hassoun, a media activist in nearby Sarmin — also in Idlib province where some of the critical cases were transferred — said the hospital there had been equipped to deal with such chemical attacks because the town was struck in one chemical attack, early on in the Syrian uprising.

The wounded have been “distributed around in rural Idlib,” he told The Associated Press by phone. “There are 18 critical cases here. They were unconscious, they had seizures and when oxygen was administered, they bled from the nose and mouth.”

Hassoun, who is documenting the attack for the medical society, said the doctors there have said it is likely more than one gas. “Chlorine gas doesn’t cause such convulsions,” he said, adding that doctors suspect sarin was used.

Hussein Kayal, a photographer for the Idlib Media Center, said he was awoken by the sound of a bomb blast around 6:30 a.m. When he arrived at the scene there was no smell, he said.

He found entire families inside their homes, lying on the floor, eyes wide open and unable to move. Their pupils were constricted. He put on a mask, he said. Kayal said he and other witnesses took victims to an emergency room, and removed their clothes and washed them in water.

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He said he felt a burning sensation in his fingers and was treated for that.

Idlib Province is home to some 900,000 displaced Syrian refugees and is controlled almost completely by rebels battling the Assad regime. The attack was carried out early in the morning, around 6:30 a.m. when many of the victims were asleep in bed.

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File Photo courtesy of BBC