Assad chlorine attack 'followed rebel' advance: SNC

Opposition group says its the seventh such offensive in less since a UN resolution to halt the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war

Baku. 26 March. REPORT.AZ/ The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, or SNC, has claimed that Tuesday's chlorine bomb attack by Bashar al-Assad’s army on opposition-held Idlib in northwestern Syria came after the advance of opposition forces in the city.

"In response to the rebels’ progress on Idlib, Assad regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs loaded with chlorine gas on the nearby town of Binnish yesterday evening, violating UN Security Council Resolution No. 2209 once again," a spokesman for the coalition, Salem al-Meslet, told a press conference Wednesday.

Report informs referring to the foreign media,a statement from the Syrian Revolution General Commission -- a coalition of Syrian opposition groups -- claims that 20 people, mostly children, were hospitalized after a Syrian army helicopter allegedly dropped a chlorine bomb on Binnish near the opposition stronghold of Idlib late Tuesday.

Meslet stated that the regime mounted seven assaults using chlorine gas in less than 20 days "since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2209 without any prosecution by UN Security Council or countries that sponsored and voted in favor of the resolution."

Since the adoption of the UN resolution dated March 6, 2015, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented what it calls six other violations with the use of the deadly chemical gas spanning many areas across Syria, claiming the lives of 59 people due to asphyxiation.

Meslet called on armed opposition groups to act with caution and put the safety of civilians first, warning that the "Assad regime will launch savage retaliatory attacks on civilians in response to the progress made by rebels in Idlib."

"The regime forces will also intensify their attacks especially in light of the international silence and the failure of the UN Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities towards civilians in Syria," he further said.

Following the attack, SNC President Khaled Khoja issued a statement saying: " Assad is stepping up the use of noxious gas because he knows there will be no action whatsoever to stop him as the international community has repeatedly signaled thatAssad is not a priority to be dealt with for now. Yesterday's chemical attack is yet another unmistakable sign that Assad has got the message."

Opposition factions which recently announced they had united under the "Jaysh al-Feth (Army of Conquest)" banner to mount joint attacks to fully take Idlib -- advanced in the city and seized swathes of territory Wednesday in northwestern Syria, an AA correspondent reported, taking control of at least 11 regime military security points and several government offices.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said Friday that all chlorine gas attacks took place after the UN adopted a resolution to halt the use of chemical weapons in the country on March 6. The network said that in these attacks, seven civilians, including three children and two women, were killed and 140 others were injured.

The UN Security Council had adopted the resolution expressing deep concern that toxic chemicals were being used as a weapon in Syria. The council strongly condemned the use of any toxic chemicals, such as chlorine, and called on those who use such weapons to be held accountable.

The resolution was approved by all members except Venezuela, a non-permanent member. The resolution threatened further action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter should chemical weapons, including chlorine, be used again.

The Syrian civil war, which entered its fifth year this month, has claimed more than 220,000 lives so far, according to the UN.

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