Children receive oxygen after the attack in Douma
US President Donald Trump branded Assad “an animal” and threatened retribution against him and his main backer, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Doctors and desperate parents in the supply-strapped area were left to treat breathless and convulsing toddlers with asthma inhalers and hosepipes to wash off the chemicals burning their skin.
In one harrowing account, a paramedic said: “We were 12 people and before the attack, you can imagine, we had been working perhaps 30 hours or more without stopping.
Leaders Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin
“We gave them whatever we had, which wasn’t much, just four oxygen generators and atropine ampoules so they could breathe. Most of them were going to die. You can imagine now our psychological state.
“I’ve worked in this hospital for five years and those last two days, I haven’t seen anything like it.”
Another medic said: “There is no weapon that has not been used. All the pillars of life is destroyed, even rescue workers are targeted. It’s the targeting of anything that is known to have life.
Paramedics attend to a baby
“We forget the days now because it doesn’t make a difference any more. All the days have the same taste, of death and destruction.”
In a furious tweet President Trump said: “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.”
A little girl has tears streaming down her face as she waits for medical assistance
The attack happened almost a year to the day Mr Trump responded to a Syrian government sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun which killed 89 people by firing 59 cruise missiles at the air base from which the jets took off.
Yesterday, US homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser Thomas Bossert refused to rule out another strike, saying: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable and any further attacks prevented immediately.
The United States calls on Russia to end this unmitigated support immediately and work with the international community to prevent further, barbaric chemical weapons attacks.”
A young girl receives treatment after Assad regime forces conduct mass poisoning
But the Russian Foreign Ministry warned against any military action on the basis of “invented and fabricated excuses”, saying it could lead to severe consequences.
Last night the UK, France, US, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Kuwait, Peru and Ivory Coast called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which is expected today.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for an international response to the “deeply disturbing” Douma attack.
“It is truly horrific to think that many of the victims were reportedly families seeking refuge from air strikes in underground shelters,” he said.
“We condemn the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons have lost all moral integrity and must be held to account.
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Relations between Britain and Russia are already at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, following the attempted assassination of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Wiltshire, last month.
The Government blames the attack, which used the Russian nerve agent Novichok, on the Kremlin. Russia has denied involvement and both Moscow and the al-Assad regime say they do not use chemical weapons in Syria.
Saturday’s attack is thought to have been delivered by air strikes on the rebel enclave of Douma, 12 miles east of Damascus. Tawfik Chamaa, a Geneva-based Syrian doctor with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, said 150 people were dead and the number was growing.
The group’s chairman, Birmingham GP Dr Ghanem Tayara, said: “This is one of the worst chemical attacks in Syrian history. “The lack of enforcement and prosecution by the international community has signalled to armed groups that it is acceptable to use chemical weapons with impunity.”