The Chemical Attack in Syria: No Doubt It's a War Crime: But Is It Also a
April 9, 2018
Al Jazeera & Associated Press & RT News
A chemical attack in Douma produced symptoms of a chlorine attack. Russia's military has rejected claims that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in an attack on the rebel-held town. A Russian general said "a number of Western countries" are trying to prevent the resumption of an operation to remove Army of Islam fighters from Douma and "to this end they are using the West's pet theme of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces."
No Doubt It's a War Crime:
But Is It Also a "False Flag"?
Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War
Remember the Maine?
Remember the "Tonkin Gulf Attack"?
Remember Iraq's "Weapons of Mass Destruction"?
Remember "I saw Saddam's troops throw babies out of incubators"?
Remember US medical students "at risk" in Grenada?
Remember the false reports of earlier Syrian government gas attacks?
Remember the UK "nerve gas" attack that has not been linked to Russia?
Remember Russia's March 17 warning that the US was planning to stage a chemical attack in Syria to provoke a military "response"?
On March 17, the Russian Defense Ministry reported with alarm that US naval strike groups were moving into position for a missile attack on Syria: "Strike groups of naval carriers with cruise missiles are being formed in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, in the Persian Gulf and in the Red Sea."
Meanwhile, the Directorate of the Russian General Staff has accused the US of planning a "fake" chemical attack to justify its aggression.
Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskov, warned: "We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria."
More details are available at Environmentalists Against War the EAW website.
Sources: Southfront Analysis & Dr. Hisham Ahmed & Newsweek & The Daily Star & Sputnik & Almanar & Syria News
Don't Let Washington Lie Us Into Another War
Demand an Independent International Investigation
Syria Chemical Attack:
'It Was Like My Lungs Were Shutting Down
Survivors and activists share their stories of horror
and shock after a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta's Douma
Farah Najjar / Al Jazeera
SYRIA (April 7, 2018) -- By his third frantic dash down the stairs, with a wet piece of cloth over his mouth and a little girl in each arm, everything went dark for Khaled Abu Jaafar.
"I lost consciousness. I couldn't breathe any more; it was like my lungs were shutting down," recalled the resident of Douma, in Syria's Eastern Ghouta. "I woke up about 30 minutes later and they had undressed me and were washing my body with water," Abu Jaafar told Al Jazeera on Sunday. "They were trying to make me vomit as my mouth was emitting a yellow substance."
Abu Jaafar is one of the survivors struggling to cope with the effects of a chemical attack on Saturday in the besieged town of Douma, the last rebel stronghold near the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Rescue workers and medical staff have said at least 85 people were killed in the chlorine gas attack - an accusation dismissed by the Syrian government as "farcical".
Among those killed, witnesses said, were many women and children who had sought refuge in the basements of buildings to escape heavy bombardment by pro-government forces.
Abu Jaafar, a radio station worker, said that as panicked residents started running around after the attack, he rushed to one of these hideouts to check on his friends and help get people out.
"While people were in the shelters, some on the roof managed to see the gas bombs as they dropped from the planes," Abu Jaafar said, describing what he said was green gas emanating from the canisters falling from the sky.
"Those who saw them rushed to tell everyone in the basement to evacuate," he added. "I went up and down the stairs about three times to help evacuate children from the building."
The attack came on the second day of a fierce ground and air push by pro-government forces after a period of relative calm.
The Syrian army said the offensive was in response to deadly shelling by Jaish al-Islam, the last remaining opposition group in Eastern Ghouta, on residential areas in Damascus. Jaish al-Islam denied the allegation.
The group is currently in negotiations with the Russian army, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, over a possible evacuation deal, according to reports carried by state media and pro-Syrian opposition Orient TV.
Last week, two other rebel groups reached evacuation agreements with the Russians, which resulted in about 19,000 people leaving for the northern province of Idlib.
They included fighters from the Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham groups, their relatives and other locals.
Rebel groups argued that the evacuation amounts to forced displacement, but gave in after weeks of intense bombardment.
Meanwhile, remaining civilians continue to endure a bombing campaign and the effects of a crippling government siege that has been in place since 2013.
The chemical attack in Douma is the largest of its kind in Syria since April last year, when nerve agent sarin or a sarin-like substance was dropped onto the town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing at least 85 people.
Symptoms of a chlorine attack include dyspnea and coughing, as well as intensive irritation of the mucous membrane and breathing difficulties.
On Saturday evening, rescue workers posted videos on social media of people appearing to show symptoms consistent with a gas attack. Some appeared to have white foam around their mouths and noses.
Abu Jaafar said that those who did not manage to evacuate their shelters died instantly.
"There were basements in other buildings with people who didn't see the gas in time. We entered those buildings and found bodies on the staircases and on the floor - they died while attempting to exit," he said.
Although some Douma residents rushed to various medical points, a shortage of supplies and doctors meant that treatment options were limited.
Activists said that several of Douma's clinics and ambulance teams had been hit during the bombardment campaign, largely disrupting the town's medical assistance capacity.
Local activist Alaa Abu Yasser was also among those who tried to help evacuate people.
"I went to a building where about 35 people had died as a result of this attack; the scenes I saw were unbearable, it's like nothing I have ever seen even in the movies," he told Al Jazeera, describing the aftermath of the attack.
"As I approached the building, a father was crying hysterically as he dragged his feet towards us carrying his two children . . . he was hugging them, smelling and kissing them after they suffocated to death," Abu Yasser added.
Several witnesses speaking to Al Jazeera said that during a chemical attack it is common practice for people to rush to the top floors and on the roofs of buildings in a bid to avoid inhaling the gas that tends to "stick to the ground".
"When we arrived to the roof of the building I was helping at, I saw the lifeless bodies of a mother in her 50s, with two of her adult daughters and a child with their arms around each other, all foaming at the mouth," said Abu Yasser.
"I mostly saw bodies of women and children in three separate rooms; they've been placed there to isolate the smell of the gas from those who survived," he added.
Although the White Helmets, a group of rescuers operating in opposition-held areas in Syria, and Syrian American Medical Society have given a death toll of at least 85, there are fears that the number of people killed in the attack could be higher.
"The rescue teams have not been able to document all the cases," local activist Mansour Abu al-Khair told Al Jazeera. "They're overwhelmed and cannot deal with the impact of the attack."
He explained many of those who lost their lives were still under destroyed buildings and have not yet been pulled from the rubble.
"Others are instantly being buried by their families, so they aren't accounted for in terms of registered numbers," al-Khair said.
"We expect the death toll to surpass 100," he added.
Russia Denies Reports of Syrian Chemical Attack
(April 8, 2018) -- Russia's military is rejecting claims that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in an attack on the rebel-held town of Douma.
Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko was quoted by Russian news agencies on Sunday as saying Russia was prepared to "promptly send Russian specialists in radiation, chemical and biological protection to Douma after its liberation from fighters to gather data that will confirm the fabricated nature of these statements."
Yevtushenko said "a number of Western countries" are trying to prevent the resumption of an operation to remove Army of Islam fighters from Douma and "to this end they are using the West's pet theme of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces."
Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been accused of using chemical weapons in past attacks that killed hundreds of people. The Syrian government has denied ever using chemical weapons.
Opposition-linked Syrian medics and first responders say a chemical attack in Douma late Saturday killed at least 40 people. The reports could not be independently confirmed.
Moscow Calls 'Chemical Attack' in Douma
'Fake News,' Warns against Syrian Intervention
(April 8, 2018) -- Reports of an alleged gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma are 'fake news' aimed at justifying potential strikes against Syria, Moscow said. It warned of "dire consequences" in the event of any military interference.
The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the latest reports about a chemical attack that allegedly affected dozens of civilians in the militant-controlled town of Douma. It said the reports were another example of a "continuous series of fake news about the use of chlorine and other chemical agents by the government forces."
The ministry pointed out that the source of the reports was the notorious "civil defense" group, the White Helmets, which has been repeatedly accused of having ties to terrorists, as well as other groups based in the US and UK.
Russia has warned about a false-flag chemical attack being prepared in the recent months, the ministry said. Those who are not interested in a genuine political settlement of the Syrian crisis are seeking to complicate the situation on the ground, it added.
"The goal of this . . . baseless speculation is to shield the terrorists and . . . the radical opposition that refuse to engage in a political settlement [process], as well as to justify potential military strikes from the outside," the statement said.
It then warned that any military interference in Syria conducted under "far-fetched or fabricated pretexts" would be "absolutely unacceptable" and could lead to "dire consequences."
Meanwhile, the reports by various rebel-linked activists about the alleged chemical incident in Douma seem to have provoked yet another wave of hysteria in the West.
US President Donald Trump rushed to denounce the unconfirmed attack as a "mindless" atrocity and a "humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever." He also warned that those behind the alleged attack 'will pay a big price.'
Accusations against the Syrian government and Russia soon followed. In his Twitter posts, Trump declared "President [Vladimir] Putin, Russia and Iran . . . responsible" for the attack because of their backing for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Earlier, the US State Department also said that "Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons."
However, US officials admitted that they were unable to independently verify any information about the alleged incident and had to rely solely on "reports" made by rebel-linked sources.
The EU claimed on Sunday that there is "evidence" pointing to "another chemical attack" conducted by Damascus. It provided no specific details to substantiate the claim. Instead, the bloc called for an immediate "international response" and urged Russia and Iran to use their influence to prevent any similar incidents in future.
Damascus rejected the accusations, calling them "boring and inconclusive propaganda." Only countries that "speculate on the blood of civilians and support terrorism in Syria" could be convinced by such reports, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official told SANA news agency.
They pointed out that similar allegations emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorists. The official added that Damascus had warned about a pre-planned false-flag attack.
Tehran has denounced statements made by US officials, describing them as "baseless accusations" that could be used as a pretext for military actions against the Syrian Army.
Meanwhile, the US administration appears to be already considering a potential response to the alleged chemical incident. "We'll be reviewing the situation later today," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CBS, commenting on a possible response.
He refused to outline any particular options that are being considered, but said that Donald Trump and his national security team will be reviewing "all different alternatives."
Asked about the possibility of another US strike, the president's Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert said: "I wouldn't take anything off the table."
This is not the first time that reports of chemical attacks pinned on Damascus have surfaced on social media.
Moscow had warned that unconfirmed reports of atrocities and false-flag chemical incidents were likely to appear at a time when militant factions are losing ground in Syria. The latest report came as the Syrian Army pushed to liberate the remaining militant-occupied settlements in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, with the city of Douma being the last such city in the area.
It comes as Jaysh al-Islam militants holding the city of Douma reportedly held talks with government forces and agreed to leave the enclave. Damascus said on March 31 that nearly all militant-held settlements in Ghouta were liberated, and a major Syrian highway had been cleared after a seven-year militant blockade.
In February 2018, Syrian troops began the operation to retake the area that has been under militant control since 2012, and Russia brokered the creation of humanitarian corridors to allow locals to escape the siege.
A total of 153,240 people have left the area through humanitarian corridors since the start of the operation, according to the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Syrian Reconciliation.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.