August 22, 2013 – Syria Uses Chemical Weapons Against Rebels: Pictured above, survivors from what activists say was a chemical weapons attack at a mosque on Wednesday in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus. Note: Experts say nerve gas was used to gas thousands of rebels, at least one-third were young children. When will the world act to stop this insanity!
Scores of men, women and children were killed outside Damascus on Wednesday in an attack marked by the telltale signs of chemical weapons: row after row of corpses without visible injury; hospitals flooded with victims, gasping for breath, trembling and staring ahead languidly; images of a gray cloud bursting over a neighborhood.
See five video links below:
The first two are direct links to videos, while the last three are links to other media that contain narrative about the nerve gas attacks and links to videos.
But even with videos, witness accounts and testimonies by emergency medics, it was impossible to say for certain how many people had been killed and what exactly had killed them. The rebels blamed the government, the government denied involvement and Russia accused the rebels of staging the attack to implicate President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
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.
President Obama said almost exactly a year ago that the use of chemical weapons was a red line. But the subsequent conclusion by the White House that the Syrian Army had used chemical weapons did not bring about a marked shift in American engagement.
This latest attack, by far the largest chemical strike yet alleged, could tip that balance — as many foes of Mr. Assad hope it will.
But like so much in Syria, where the government bars most reporters from working and the opposition heavily filters the information it lets out, the truth remains elusive.
The attack was especially conspicuous given the presence in Damascus of a team sent by the United Nations to investigate chemical strikes reportedly waged earlier in the war. The United States, the European Union and other world powers called for the investigators to visit the site of Wednesday’s attack.
The Security Council, meeting in emergency session, issued a statement calling for a prompt investigation of the allegations and a cease-fire in the conflict, but took no further action.
“I can say that there is a strong concern among Council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened, and that the situation has to be followed carefully,” said María Cristina Perceval of Argentina, the president of the Council, after the meeting. “All Council members agreed that any use of chemical weapons, by any side under any circumstances, is a violation of international law.”
The ranking diplomat from Britain, Philip Parham, told reporters later outside the Security Council chambers that representatives of at least 35 countries had signed a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon requesting that Syrian authorities grant the United Nations investigative panel in Syria “urgent access” to the attack site. Note: Enough with letters, President Obama should send in the 82nd Airborne, capture Mr. Assad, and transport him to the World Court in The Hague – to stand trial for this horrific event!
But Mr. Parham declined to specify the signatories or to divulge whether any of the 15 Security Council members had proposed any stronger measures during their closed-door consultations.
In the opposition’s account of the deadly events, Mr. Assad’s forces deployed poison gas on a number of rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, the capital. They described medics finding people dead in their homes. Note: It is time to take action – I am going to email, call and write everyone I know in the U.S. Government – starting with President Obama – I urge you to do the same. This madness must stop. Note: I usually do not editorialize this much in any posts, however, after watching these videos of innocent children dead, or dying, it was simply too much. They are very graphic – be warned:
Videos posted online showed mostly men and children, but the opposition activists said that many women were killed too, but that out of respect they were not photographed.
The actual death toll remained unclear. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late Wednesday that more than 130 people had been confirmed dead in attacks around Damascus, though it could not confirm the use of gas. Other opposition estimates put the death toll at more than 1,000.
“I saw many children lying on beds as if they were sleeping, but unfortunately they were dead,” said an activist reached via Skype in the suburb of Erbin, who gave his name as Abu Yassin.
“We thought this regime would not use chemical weapons, at least these days with the presence of the U.N. inspectors,” he said. “It is reckless. The regime is saying, ‘I don’t care.’ ”
Some witness testimony suggested that residents, used to seeking cover from government shelling and airstrikes by running into underground shelters, had made the situation worse. In one video, a young medic said that residents had hidden in their basements, where the gas collected and suffocated them.
“The descent of the citizens into the basements increased the number of wounded and the number of martyrs,” the medic said, before breaking into tears and adding that many from the medical corps also succumbed to the gases.
The White House said that Syria should provide access to the United Nations, and that those found to have used chemical weapons should be held accountable. Other countries, including Britain and France, offered similar expressions of concern.
Russia wrote off the attack as a “preplanned provocation” orchestrated by the rebels and said they had launched the gas with a homemade rocket from an area they controlled.
Louay Mekdad, a media coordinator for the military wing of the opposition Syrian National Council, said the attack showed that Mr. Assad “doesn’t care any longer about red lines since he has already exceeded too many of them while the world has showed no reaction.”
Mr. Mekdad called on the Security Council and international powers to “live up to their moral and historic responsibility” to protect civilians in Syria. “If the international community doesn’t move now, when is it going to move?” he asked. (Credits – The NYT, Reuters, AP and YouTube).
The Master of Disaster