International desk – The UN Security Council has called to hold emergency talks after an alleged chemical attack in Syria left dozens of civilians dead and wounded.
The release of chemicals in a rebel-held town in Idlib province brought furious international reaction.
Officials in Damascus deny opposition and Western claims that they used chemical weapons.
Russia’s defence ministry said a Syrian air strike had hit a rebel ammunition store that included chemical weapons.
In particular, “a workshop for the production of land mines filled with poisonous substances” had been hit, it said.
It seemed to support accounts by Syrian military sources a day earlier who reported an explosion at what they called a rebel chemical weapons factory in Khan Sheikhoun.
Earlier, the US and other powers had blamed the Syrian government.
Footage from the scene showed civilians, many of them children, choking and foaming at the mouth.
Witnesses said clinics treating the injured were then targeted by air strikes, according to BBC.
UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 58, including 11 children.
It was unable to say which chemical had been involved but pro-opposition groups said it was believed to have been the nerve agent Sarin.
The attack will overshadow a conference in Brussels at which 70 donor nations will discuss aid efforts in Syria. Delegates want to step up humanitarian access for thousands of civilians trapped by fighting.
Syria’s civil war has raged for more than six years, with no political solution in sight.
Nearly five million Syrians have fled the country and more than six million are internally displaced, the UN says. More than 250,000 people have been killed.