Thursday, August 22, 2013

Assad Used Chemical Warfare in Syria - 1,300 dead in Ghouta

 photo posted by Araby Free in The Syrian Revolution 2011

I'm seeing this muddling of facts in Syria right now.  For starters, there was the matter of the song writer, Ibrahim Qashoush, who was assassinated and found dead with his throat cut out. Quickly there were news reports saying Qashoush didn't really author the popular protest song, "Get Out, Bashar!"

Yesterday, it seems the Facebook site of The Syrian Revolution 2011, which is an important source of information to the international media, has been shut down again.

More important is the matter of the chemical attack in eastern Damascus last Wednesday, August 21, referred to by The Independent as "Syria's darkest day" (the government also bombed the same area on Thursday morning). The New York Times says:

Images of death and chaos poured out of Syria after what may be the single deadliest attack in more than two years of civil war. Videos posted online showed dozens of lifeless bodies, men wrapped in burial shrouds and children, some still in diapers. There were hospital scenes of corpses and the stricken sprawled on gurneys and tile floors as medics struggled to resuscitate them. 

Getting to the bottom of the assault could well alter the course of the conflict and affect the level of the West’s involvement. 

The rebels blame the government, but the Assad government says the rebels committed the chemical weapons attack. Admitting that people and children died, the Assad regime said hundreds died when other estimates talk about 1,300-1,400 deaths.

There are other questions thrown in as well: why didn't everyone die? Why did survivors not show signs of the chemical attack? There are questions about the timing of the chemical attack - why now when the United Nations team is in Damascus? I found a news report stating that the rebels massacred people then recorded the scenes and uploaded these on August 20.

Obfuscation - that is what is going on.

To me, some facts are clear:

1. The Assad regime has grown more repressive as the War in Syria continues. The government has had no qualms in destroying cities, people, heritage sites, anything standing in its way.

2. In July 2012, The New York Times reported that the Syrian regime admitted to possessing chemical and biological weapons and threatened to use them against a foreign attack. At that time, the Syrian government moved the chemical weapons from the northern end of the country.

3. In December 2012, Engineers working for the Assad regime "have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas...  International observers are now more worried than they've ever been that the Damascus government could use its nerve agent stockpile to slaughter its own people."  (from Exclusive: US Sees Syria Prepping...)

4. Early Wednesday, August 21, 2013, at around 2:20 a.m. chemical weapons were reportedly used to kill scores (estimates range from hundreds to 1,300) of people in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, the East Ghouta region. While experts are still debating on the veracity of the rebel's claims, they are saying that chemical weapons were most likely used in the attack.

5. Journalists have witnessed that the Assad regime has used chemical attacks prior to the Ghouta incident (source: NY Times - French Journalists previously reported chemical attacks in Damascus suburbs).

6. The United Nations team in Damascus is still requesting immediate access to investigate the matter.

7. Let's just look Sarin gas and its effects on people -- from

Sarin was developed in 1938 in Germany as a pesticide. Its name is derived from the names of the chemists involved in its creation: Schrader, Ambros, Rudriger and van der Linde. Sarin is a colorless non-persistent liquid. The vapor is slightly heavier than air, so it hovers close to the ground. Under wet and humid weather conditions, Sarin degrades swiftly, but as the temperature rises up to a certain point, Sarin’s lethal duration increases, despite the humidity. Sarin is a lethal cholinesterase inhibitor. Doses which are potentially life threatening may be only slightly larger than those producing least effects.

 Symptoms of overexposure may occur within minutes or hours, depending upon the dose. They include: miosis (constriction of pupils) and visual effects, headaches and pressure sensation, runny nose and nasal congestion, salivation, tightness in the chest, nausea, vomiting, giddiness, anxiety, difficulty in thinking, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, muscle twitches, tremors, weakness, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, involuntary urination and defecation, with severe exposure symptoms progressing to convulsions and respiratory failure.

photo courtesy of The Syrian Revolution 2011

People will talk about the August 21 Ghouta incident ad infinitum, but the simple fact is that civilians are dying, not just in Damascus, but in other parts of Syria. Here's a list of some of the massacres and battles where rebels and civilians have been killed (source: Syria's civil war: a chronicle of bloodshed):
  • May 2013 - the massacres of Baniyas and al-Bayda;
  • April and May 2013 - the Battle of al-Quasayr;
  • April 2013 - the Battle of Jdaidet al-Fadl;
  • January 2013 - Massacres in Homs; (In May 2012, 108 people were killed in Houla);
  • August 2012 - the Battle of Daraya;
  • July 2012 - the Battle of Aleppo continues today, and is referred to as the "mother of all battles"
  • March 2-12 - the Battle of Idlib;
  • December 2012 - Jabal al-Zawiya massacres;
  • June 2012 - attack on Jisr al-Shughour;
  • April 2012 - attacks on Deraa and Damascus;
It goes on and on. As I write, there is fighting and dying going on in Syria. And the repression of the Assad regime continues, from trying to silence the media, to torturing children, to raping women, and now using chemical weapons.

Really, it is too much for the world to ignore.

For more information:
US preps for possible missile attack on Syrian gov't forces
Assad regime responsible for Syrian chemical attack says UK gov't 
CBS News - US detected activity at Syria chemical weapons sites before attack 
The New York Times - French Journalists Previously Reported Chemical Attacks in Damascus Suburbs
The New York Times - Images of Death in Syria
BBC-Syrian chemical attack: France says force may be needed
USA Today - UN seeking clarity over alleged chemical attack in Syria 
The Independent - Syria's Darkest Day? Opposition blames Assad forces as up to 1,300 killed
The one video from Syria's alleged chemical weapons attack that everyone should watch
UN action urged if Syria chemical weapons use is proved
Syrian Rebels Accuse Government of chemical attack 
Syrian Activists: Videos show chemical weapons used 
Syrian activists accuse government of deadly chemical attack near Damascus
Syria's Allegedly worst chemical weapons attack described by witnesses 
Syria and weapons of mass destruction 

Chemical warfare from Rome to Syria. A Time Line
Chemical warfare in the Middle East: A brief history
Chemical weapons, the Middle East, the UN Security Council and now, Syria
History of Chemical Weapon use
The dark past of chemical warfare in the Middle East
The Middle East's Chemical romance

Read also:
All for now,

tags: Syria, War, Syrian Civil War, revolution, chemical warfare, chemical attack, sarin, Middle East, Genocide, politics, history, news, Ghouta, Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, Assad, refugees, UN, Syrian rebels, genocide, massacre

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