Death toll in Syrian chemical attack rises to 72

PHOTO: In this picture taken on Tuesday April 4, 2017, SAbdul-Hamid Alyousef, 29, holds his twin babies who were killed during a suspected chemical weapons attack, in Khan Sheikhoun in the northern province of Idlib, Syria.PlayAlaa Alyousef via AP
WATCH Trump administration places blame on Obama for Syria chemical attack

The death toll from a suspected chemical weapons attack on a Syrian town Tuesday has risen to at least 72 civilians, including 20 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Russia blamed Syrian rebels for the attack, saying that the Syrian Air Force struck a warehouse where opposition militants were storing chemical weapons -- a statement that contradicts testimonies from doctors, residents and White Helmets on the ground. Syria's military denied it used chemical weapons against civilians, saying it is too "honorable" to carry out such "heinous" crimes.

"The place that was hit was filled with civilians. It was a residential area, not a military warehouse," Abdullah al-Hussein, a Syria Civil Defense volunteer at the scene, told ABC News in a voice recording in Arabic on Wednesday.

PHOTO: A Syrian child receives treatment after an alleged chemical attack at a field hospital in Saraqib, Idlib province, Syria, April 4, 2017. EPA
A Syrian child receives treatment after an alleged chemical attack at a field hospital in Saraqib, Idlib province, Syria, April 4, 2017.

“Yesterday evening we found a whole family in a shelter killed from choking on chlorine gas and today we found another family in a shelter that had also choked to death. We are finding whole families killed,” al-Hussein said.

Today, warplanes targeted the town of Khan Sheikhoun again, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the White Helmets.

Abdulhai Tennari, a lung doctor in Idlib, told ABC News in a Skype interview that he treated 22 patients, including around eight children, after Tuesday's attack. His hospital is located about 40 miles away from Khan Sheikhoun.

“Many parents were looking for their children,” he said. “They don't know what happened with them because patients were distributed to many hospitals. Many people died, parents died, so because of this there were many children without families and nobody knew who they were.”

One of the children was only a few months old, he said.

"They were small children," he said. "One of them was breastfeeding, maybe a few months old ... he was trying to suck his finger. He wanted milk. We brought to him a bottle of milk but he didn’t take it. We looked for his parents and we found someone who knows them and transported him to them."

PHOTO: A video grabbed still image shows Syrian people receiving treatment after an alleged chemical attack at a field hospital in Saraqib, Idlib province, Syria, April 4, 2017.EPA
A video grabbed still image shows Syrian people receiving treatment after an alleged chemical attack at a field hospital in Saraqib, Idlib province, Syria, April 4, 2017.

Tennari and other medics told ABC News that more than 500 people were injured in the attack that they said involved Sarin gas. Many patients died immediately, Tennari said.

“They had difficulty breathing and secretions in their lungs and very constricted pupils,” he explained. “The patients improved after we gave them the antidote. For this reason, we believe that it was Sarin.”

On Wednesday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that at least two different chemicals may have been used in the attack. Eight people who were treated by MSF staff near the Turkish border showed symptoms consistent with an agent such as Sarin gas, including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation, the organization said.

“MSF medical teams also visited other hospitals treating victims of the attack, and reported that they smelled of bleach, indicative of possible exposure to chlorine. These reports strongly suggest that victims of the attack on Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to at least two different chemical agents,” MSF said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, labeled the suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack “a heinous act" that "will be treated as such” during an official visit in Singapore.

In a speech at the United Nations today, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, slammed Russia’s continued support of the Assad regime, calling on the Russian government to exercise its influence to end the violence and suggested that if the U.N. fails to respond to this recent attack the U.S. may.

“How many more children need to die before Russia cares?” she said. "When the U.N. consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times when we are compelled to take our own actions.”

During a photo-op with King Abdullah of Jordan, President Trump made a short statement, saying these are "very troubled times" in the Middle East.

The president called the suspected chemical attack "horrible" and "unspeakable," adding a "you'll see" when asked if he will take any action against Syria.

ABC News' Pete Madden and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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