A Syrian child receives treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Idlib province, on April 4, 2017. © AFP Mohamed al-Bakour

By Oladipupo Mojeed with Ageny report

At least 58 civilians including several children in rebel-held northwestern Syria on Tuesday have been killed via a suspected chemical attack.

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The opposition is accusing the government and demanding a UN investigation.

The attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun left dozens suffering respiratory problems and symptoms including vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A hospital in the town where doctors were treating victims of the attack was also bombarded, an AFP correspondent said.

A United Nations weapons expert collects samples during an investigation into a 2013 suspected chemical weapons strike near Damascus © Ammar Al-Arbini/AFP/File Ammar al-Arbini

The entrance of the building was hit, bringing down rubble on top of medics who had earlier been seen dousing a steady stream of arrivals to wash away chemical residue.

The violence came as the European Union and UN hosted a conference in Brussels on Syria’s future, with confusion over Washington’s position on the issue of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s future.

According to the Observatory, the attack was on a residential part of Khan Sheikhun came in the early hours of Tuesday, when a warplane carried out strikes that released “toxic gas”.

 Opposition demands probe

A Syrian is helped by medical staff following a suspected gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Idlib province, on April 4, 2017© AFP Mohamed al-Bakour

It also said 11 children were among the dead, with at least 160 injured, and that many people were dying even after arriving at medical facilities.

The monitor could not confirm the nature of the gas or whether the strikes were carried out by Syrian warplanes or those of government ally Russia.

It relies on a network of sources inside Syria and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.

An AFP journalist in Khan Sheikun saw a young girl, a woman and two elderly people dead at the hospital prior to the bombardment, all with foam still visible around their mouths.

The gas attack attack left dozens suffering from respiratory problems and symptoms including vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights © AFP Abd Doumany

Doctors at the facility had been using basic equipment, some not even wearing lab coats, and attempting to revive patients who were not breathing.

The town is in Syria’s Idlib province, which is largely controlled by an alliance of rebels including former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front.

The province is regularly targeted in strikes by the regime, as well as Russian warplanes, and has also been hit by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, usually targeting jihadists.

Syria’s leading opposition group, the National Coalition, accused the “regime of the criminal Bashar” of being behind the attack.