A chemical attack in Syria has left dozens dead.  Assessment is on-going, so reports vary as to how many people were killed.  Early reports say that at least 42 people were killed, with hundreds in need of medical care.  The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is reporting that over 70 civilians were killed.

According to reports, the victims of Saturday’s chemical attack showed signs of chlorine and nerve agent poisoning.

President Trump has responded vigorously on Twitter, tagging Syria’s president “Animal Assad” and reminding us that Obama’s 2013 empty “red line” threats against Syria’s use of chemical weapons emboldened the Russia-supported regime.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A suspected chemical-weapons attack on a rebel-held Syrian town near Damascus late Saturday has killed at least 42 people and sickened hundreds more, relief workers said, sparking calls for international action and a sharp rebuke from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Poisonous gas was unleashed from a barrel bomb dropped by a government helicopter, according to the White Helmets, a Syrian paramedic group. Victims showed symptoms of poisoning by chlorine and nerve agents, doctors said.

. . . . Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that reports of a chemical-weapons attack on Saturday were “fabricated information” and warned of “the most-severe consequences” if other powers sought to intervene militarily.

Entire families were found dead after Saturday’s attack, huddled inside apartment buildings and basements, apparently unable to escape, according to the White Helmets.

Rescuers warned the death toll could rise as the search for victims—hampered by ongoing airstrikes—continued Sunday.

Syria’s main political opposition group, the Syrian coalition, called on the U.S., Britain and France to retaliate against regime air bases and other targets. Relief groups urged an independent investigation.

Many of Saturday’s victims in the town of Douma smelled of chlorine and had bluish skin and more than 500 needed medical care, according to the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society.

Last year, President Trump responded to a chemical attack by Assad’s regime against Syrians with 59 Tomahawk missiles.

This morning, President Trump stated that there will be a “big price to pay” for this latest attack.

Vice President Mike Pence iterates that there will be a “big price to pay” for Saturday’s chemical attack.

As he did following last year’s chemical attack against the Syrian people, the president notes that Obama’s empty red-line bluster has led to further disaster.

World leaders are responding to Saturday’s attack with shock and horror, with Turkey referring to the attack as “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The Washington Post reports:

“President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” Trump tweeted. “Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

His sentiments were shared around the world. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the attack an example of the Assad government’s brutality.

The European Union issued a statement appealing to Assad’s allies Russia and Iran to “use their influence to prevent any further attack and ensure the cessation of hostilities and de-escalation of violence.”

Turkey, which has been cooperating with Assad allies in talks for a political solution, called for international action to prevent what it called war crimes and crimes against humanity.

For what it’s worth, CNN is reporting that the Assad regime denies responsibility for the attack.

But the Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, vehemently denied involvement in Saturday’s attack. Instead, they accused rebels in Douma of fabricating the chemical assault claims in order to hinder the army’s advances and provoke international military intervention.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the reported attack a “hoax” that interfered with a deal to end fighting in Douma and evacuate civilians. Dozens of buses entered Douma on Sunday evening to take detainees released by Jaish al-Islam, the last remaining rebel group in Douma, to government-held territory, according to Syrian state TV. The vehicles will also transport rebels and civilians to northern Syria, state TV said.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) calls the president’s response to this latest Syrian chemical attack a “defining moment in his presidency.”

The New York Post reports:

A top Republican Senator said the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens in Syria is a “defining moment” for President Trump to show his resolve in standing up against Damascus despot Bashar al-Assad.

“Well, it’s a defining moment in his presidency, because he has challenged Assad in the past not to use chemical weapons,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We had a one-and-done missile attack. So Assad is at it again. They see us, our resolve, breaking. They see our determination to stay in Syria waning. And it’s no accident they used chemical weapons.”

Graham is likely referring to recent reports that Trump would like to get U. S. troops out of Syria in “months, not years.”  Graham may also be referring to recent indications that Trump is willing to host Putin in the White House.

Is it possible that Assad (and Putin) actually read these reports as a sign of Trump’s weakness and decided to test him?  If so, they made a big mistake.  Big.