Monday, 26 August 2013 10:07 GFP Columnist - Dr. Haytham Khoury
The Syrian regime has committed on Wednesday a new crime. However, this time is like never before.

On Wednesday August 21, the Syrian regime forces have bombarded more than 10 towns and villages in al Ghota, an area surrounding the capital Damascus, with surface-to-surface missiles likely carrying chemical weapons, leaving more than 1360 deaths with roughly 60% of them are children and women.

Just after 2 AM, Damascus time, heavy bombing were heard in these areas. All the places bombarded were residential areas where innocent civilians live. Just after the bombings, people at their homes started to feel sick with irritation in their noses, throat and chests. These symptoms were followed by runny nose and shortness of breath. Many people died at their homes. Others were taken to make-shift hospitals set up in schools and mosques.

In these hospitals, the situation was chaotic and gruesome scenes were easily noticeable. A large number of corpses were on the floor. Affected people who are still alive were seen struggling to catch their breath. Others were suffering from still muscles, jerking movements, convulsions, drooling and even coma. All these symptoms are reminiscent of an intoxication with a nerve agent. The severity of the symptoms and the fact that some of the surviving victims reported seeing an amber-colored fume may indicate that this poison was the VX gas. In fact, the Assad regime is known to have large stockpile of this toxic gas.

Shockingly, this is not the first that the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons against civilians. The regime has possibly used chemical weapons in 12 other occasions, nine are suspected and 3 are confirmed by samples sent to the US, UK and France. The chemical attacks have targeted several other places in Syria, including Khan al-Assal, Saraqeb, Aleppo, and Homs. However, by far this attack is the largest in scale.

Ironically, this attack was carried out while UN chemical-weapons investigative team is visiting Damascus. The UN investigators have arrived to Damascus on Sunday. However, the team has limited mandate to investigate three specific sites none of them is affected by Wednesday bombing. Any change in the team mandate would require a mutual agreement between the UN and the Syrian government. The UN and a number International powers have urged the Syrian government to allow the UN team to investigate the latest alleged attack, but no response from the Syrian officials has been received, yet.  Indeed, although more than 48 hours have elapsed since the attack, the investigative team did not put a foot in the areas targeted by the latest attack. This is very disappointing, particularly the VX has a half-life of 40 hours and it is hard to detect after few days from its usage.

It is clear that the Assad regime is sending a message of defiance and mockery to the whole world. It is evident that regime is ridiculing the UN, as it is carrying out such attack while the investigators are only few miles from the attack sites. It is clear that the regime is challenging the Western world. The leaders of the western democracies have iterated two years ago, precisely in August 2011, that the Assad had lost all legitimacy and should step down. However, the Assad challenged the western leaders and completely neglected their appeal, as it never existed, carrying on his attack against his people even in a more deadly manner.

The American president, Barak Obama, have said in August 2012 that the use of chemical weapons is a red line; further, he emphasized that crossing this red line would require an appropriate line. That line has been breached many times, but no response actions have been taken. Indeed, Bashar al-Assad has succeeded in making Barak Obama a man of empty words.

Evidently, Bashar al-Assad has not been able to challenge West without the help of his allies, namely Iran and Russia. Both of them are using Syria as a battlefield on which they are challenging and trying to settle their accounts with the West. Iran wishes to win in Syria in order to keep its influence in the Middle East, particularly through arming and supporting Hezbollah, and to have more cards in its negotiations with the West as regards to its nuclear weapons dossier. Russia’s Putin wants to recover the lost legacy of the past Soviet Union by having its international sphere of dominance, with Syria as a window of this sphere on Mediterranean. Both countries are following their interests with no regards for the aspirations of the Syrian people or the lives of Syrians.

It is clear that Bashar al-Assad is succeeding in his challenge and mockery of the free world. Furthermore, it is certain that he is not able to do so without the help of his evil allies. However, it is evident the Bashar al-Assad and his evil allies would not able to succeed without the lack of strategy and the coward attitude of the Western administrations towards the Syrian crisis.

The Syrian people has lost hope in the UN and does not believe anymore the Western leaders. The Syrian people is appealing today on the people of the free world to take action and to force their government to assume their historical responsibilities toward the suffering Syrians.

The Syrian people are urging every conscious man and woman in the World to speak out and say “Stop the killer!”

Images Contributed by Haytham Khoury

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