In April 2017, a chemical attack in Idlib, Syria killed more than 80 people and injured hundreds. Lots of the victims, including many children, were poisoned as they slept in their beds.

Using chemical weapons is a war crime. After this tragedy, along with over 40,000 of you, we applied pressure on the UN to investigate what happened and to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

As a result, over 250 individuals have been blacklisted by the EU for their role in the horrific chemical attack on civilians in Syria, including high ranking Syrian military officials and scientists. Also, the UN’s chemical watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) currently has an investigation underway and we hope to see further progress towards justice as this unfolds. 

The attack

'The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food. We've received victims of chlorine attacks before - this was completely different. Victims had vomit from the nose and mouth, a dark yellow colour, sometimes turning to brown. Paralysis in respiratory functions - children were dying faster than adults because of this.'

A nurse describes the aftermath of the attack

On Tuesday 4 April, a chemical attack targeted the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, Syria, killing more than 80 people and injuring hundreds more.

One piece of footage, which is consistent with other available evidence, shows nine children lying lifeless in the back of a pick-up truck. The children are naked or partially dressed; they appear to have died in their beds.

Our evidence shows that it’s likely that the children were killed by a nerve agent, or an organophosphorus compound, such as Sarin, rather than chlorine gas, as in previous chemical attacks in the Syrian conflict.

Working from video footage shot in the immediate aftermath of the attack, experts have observed symptoms consistent with nerve gas poisoning.

'Children were the first ones to die'

We interviewed a doctor working at the specialised surgery hospital, some 30 miles away from the site of the attack.

'Victims reached us in different states - some had muscular and respiratory paralysis, which we tried treating with tranquilisers and Atropine. They had secretions from the mouth and nose that were white. Some were completely unconscious. Some had severe muscular pain. Children are the first ones to die, they cannot fight this back. We only had one child who, thank God, survived.'

Since 2013, several chemical attacks on civilians have been carried out by Syrian government forces and armed groups. The wider conflict in Syria has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and led millions of people – more than half the population – to flee their homes, either abroad or within Syria.

It’s time to deliver justice

Today, the people responsible for atrocities remain all too often out of the reach of justice, and civilians continue to suffer every day.

It’s time to deliver justice and reparation for victims and their families. It’s time to ensure that war crimes and crimes against humanity do not go unpunished.

Without justice and accountability, attacks like that which happened in April risk being repeated. We will keep the pressure up until that risk no longer exists.