Survivors of Syrian attack describe chemical bombs falling from sky

Updated 11:39 PM EDT, Thu April 6, 2017
Syria strike 01
CNN
Syria strike 01
Now playing
02:28
Syrian survivors detail moment of attack
Now playing
03:44
Do the 1990s hold the key to sustainable websites?
Now playing
01:10
Watch SpaceX land its Mars rocket prototype for the first time
Now playing
05:52
The climate crisis is taking these farmers' most valuable resource
U.S. President Donald Trump works on his phone during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of American's small business. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump works on his phone during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of American's small business. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:37
Facebook Oversight Board: Indefinite suspension of Trump's account is 'not appropriate'
Now playing
03:41
How technology at NASA helps guide Biden on climate
Now playing
01:42
A vaccine without needles? It's on the way
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Host Conan O'Brien speaks onstage during the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Host Conan O'Brien speaks onstage during the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:48
Conan announces his last show after 30 years in late night
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Now playing
03:14
Will Trump be allowed back on Facebook? This board will decide
CNN
Now playing
05:16
WTF is a SPAC?
Now playing
01:51
A shortage of tanker truck drivers could cause stations to run out of gas
CEO at Verizon Media K. Guru Gowrappan appears at the 2019 Verizon Media NewFront on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Verizon Media
CEO at Verizon Media K. Guru Gowrappan appears at the 2019 Verizon Media NewFront on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Now playing
02:47
Verizon sells off Yahoo and AOL
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:40
Warren Buffett warns on US inflation
Now playing
01:00
Astronauts splash down after record-setting mission
ATLANTA - APRIL 30:  A Boeing 757 with a new Delta Airlines logo sits on the tarmac following the company's emergence from bankruptcy at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 757 sports new branding that will appear on more than 900 planes, at airports and on advertising.  (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images) 757
Barry Williams/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
ATLANTA - APRIL 30: A Boeing 757 with a new Delta Airlines logo sits on the tarmac following the company's emergence from bankruptcy at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 757 sports new branding that will appear on more than 900 planes, at airports and on advertising. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images) 757
Now playing
02:28
Why Delta airlines is resuming selling middle seats
Now playing
02:50
Grocery chain says 'hero pay' forcing them to close stores

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic imagery.

(CNN) —  

Survivors of a deadly airstrike in Syria have described chemical bombs being dropped from planes, in accounts that directly contradicted the Assad regime’s version of a dawn attack that drew condemnation around the world.

The White House and the UK blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the attack that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun while many were still asleep.

The strike, one of the deadliest of its kind since the Syrian war began six years ago, killed at least 70 people, including children.

Syria denied it used chemical weapons. Russia asserted the deaths resulted from a gas released when a regime airstrike hit a “terrorist” chemical weapons factory on the ground. But survivors being treated in a hospital on the Turkish side of the border told a CNN team they saw chemical bombs dropped from the air.

The World Health Organization said victims bore the signs of exposure to nerve agents, and Amnesty International said evidence pointed to an “air-launched chemical attack.” International agencies are investigating the origin of the agents used in the strike.

At the United Nations, Western powers lambasted Russia for standing by the Syrian regime.

Key developments

  • Chemical weapons expert: Russia’s explanation of events is “highly implausible.”
  • US President Donald Trump said the attack changed his views on Syria and Assad.
  • Medical experts said the attack was likely the result of a nerve agent, such as sarin gas.
  • The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting but didn’t vote on a resolution.

War of words

A child receives treatment Tuesday at an Idlib province hospital after a suspected chemical attack.
Mohammed Karkas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A child receives treatment Tuesday at an Idlib province hospital after a suspected chemical attack.

Trump called the attack on innocent civilians an “affront to humanity,” saying it had changed his views on Syria and Assad. “These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated,” Trump said.

“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies … with a chemical gas that is so lethal that people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines – beyond a red line.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said on its Facebook page that a Syrian airstrike hit “workshops, which produced chemical warfare munitions” on the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun. It said “terrorists” had been transporting the chemical munitions from their largest arsenal to Iraq.

Dan Kaszeta, a chemical weapons specialist, told CNN the Russian version of events was “highly implausible.”

“Nerve agents are the result of a very expensive, exotic, industrial chemical process – these are not something you just whip up,” said Kaszeta, managing director of Strongpoint Security, a security consulting firm based in London.

“It’s much more plausible that Assad, who’s used nerve agents in the past, is using them again.”

Hours after the attack, several people were injured when an airstrike hit near a hospital in the same town. Survivors of the earlier attack were being treated there, the Aleppo Media Center activist group reported.

The hospital was knocked out of service, said the Syrian Civil Defense rescue group, known as the White Helmets.

Victim: ‘I don’t know if my family is dead or alive’

Mazin Yusif, a 13-year-old-boy, broke down in tears at the Reyhanli Hospital in southern Turkey near the Syrian border. About 25 survivors of Tuesday’s attack are being treated there, and several said they saw a plane drop chemical bombs.

Mazin Yusif, 13, tells a harrowing story of being caught up in the apparent chemical attack.
Kareem Khadder/CNN
Mazin Yusif, 13, tells a harrowing story of being caught up in the apparent chemical attack.

“At 6:30 in the morning, the plane struck. I ran up on our roof and saw that the strike was in front of my grandfather’s house,” Mazin told CNN.

He said he ran toward his house and found his grandfather slumped over. He ran outside to call for help. “I got dizzy and then fainted in front of my grandfather’s garage. I next found myself here in this hospital, naked in a bed.”

Aisha al-Tilawi, 55, says she lost three members of her family in Tuesday's attack.
Kareem Khadder/CNN
Aisha al-Tilawi, 55, says she lost three members of her family in Tuesday's attack.

The boy’s grandmother, Aisha al-Tilawi, 55, said she saw blue and yellow after the plane dropped a chemical-laden bomb.

“We started choking, felt dizzy, then fainted. Mazin was trying to wake up his grandfather. Three of my family died,” she said, lying in bed with an oxygen mask on her face.

Ahmed Abdel Rahim, 31, says he has no idea of his family's whereabouts after the attack.
Kareem Khadder/CNN
Ahmed Abdel Rahim, 31, says he has no idea of his family's whereabouts after the attack.

Another survivor, Ahmed Abdel Rahim, 31, stared vacantly from his hospital bed while explaining he was hit with a poisonous substance carried by three rockets.

“I was in my house. I had difficulty breathing, but I feel better now. But I did throw up after getting to the hospital. I don’t know if my family is dead or alive. I don’t know anything,” he said.

Worldwide condemnation

WHO said some victims showed symptoms consistent with exposure to a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents. That conclusion was supported by Amnesty International, which said victims were “very likely” to have been exposed to a compound such as sarin.