Syria: Hundreds of children’s bodies piled high after nerve gas attack near Damascus

  • Activists  claim 1,300  killed in government rocket strike on residential area
  • If true, it would  represent the worst known use of chemical weapons since  Saddam Hussein  gassed thousands of Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988
  • Chemical  warheads hit suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar
  • They hit  just before dawn as families lay sleeping
  • A UN team  is in Syria to probe chemical weapons use by President Assad
  • Many  countries have called for an immediate investigation
  • French  Foreign Minister has called the attack an ‘unprecedented atrocity’
  • William  Hague said hopes attack will ‘wake up some’ who support  Assad
  • Claims come  as refugees flood into Iraqi Kurdistan

By Sam Webb

PUBLISHED:03:11 EST, 21  August 2013

The world has looked on in horror as graphic  images emerged showing the aftermath of a dawn poison gas attack in the suburbs  of Damascus that wiped out 1,300 people as they lay sleeping in their  beds.

Syrian activists accuse President Bashar  al-Assad’s forces of launching the nerve gas attack in what would be by far the  worst reported use of poison gas in the two-year-old civil war.

Activists said rockets with chemical agents  hit the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar before  dawn.

While these pictures of dead children  are  graphic, disturbing and undoubtedly the worst so far to have emerged from the  conflict, MailOnline has made the decision to publish them in  order to raise  awareness of the plight of innocent people in a war that shows no sign of  ending. Scroll  down for video

Slaughter: Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people they say were killed by nerve gas in DamascusSlaughter: Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people  they say were killed by nerve gas in Damascus
The activists said at least 213 people, including women and children, were killedy in a nerve gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad's forcesThe activists said at least 213 people, including women  and children, were killedy in a nerve gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s  forces
Bodies of people, including children, activists say were killed by nerve gasBodies of people, including children, activists say were  killed by nerve gas
Innocent: The dead bodies of Syrian children after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forcesInnocent: Dead bodies of Syrian children after an  alleged poisonous gas rocket attack fired by regime forces

The accounts could not be verified  independently and were denied by Syrian state television, which said  they were  disseminated deliberately to distract a team of United Nations chemical weapons  experts that arrived three days ago.

Syria’s Information Minister called the  activists’ claim a ‘disillusioned and fabricated one whose objective is  to  deviate and mislead’ the UN mission.

Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh,  reporting  from neighbouring Jordan, said there were videos allegedly  showing both  children and adults in field hospitals, some of them  suffocating, coughing and  sweating.

‘We have been receiving reports that the  doctors in the field hospitals do not have the right medication to treat these  cases and that they were treating people with vinegar and water,’ she  said.

 

GRAPHIC CONTENT expert says Syria attack shows  trauma to nervous…

A young survivor of the alleged gas attack cries as he takes shelter inside a mosque A young survivor of the alleged gas attack cries as he  takes shelter inside a mosque
A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, is treated in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, is  treated in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen

A man is treated in hospital for the effects of chemical poisoning after the suspected Sarin attack A man is treated in hospital for the effects of chemical  poisoning after the suspected Sarin attack
A boy who survived what activists say is a gas attack cries as he takes shelter inside a mosque in the Duma neighbourhood of DamascusA boy who survived what activists say is a gas attack  cries as he takes shelter inside a mosque in the Duma neighbourhood of  Damascus
This image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube allegedly shows Syrians covering a mass grave containing bodies of victims of the attackAn undignified end: This image grab taken from a video  uploaded on YouTube allegedly shows Syrians covering a mass grave containing  bodies of victims of the attack. The atrocity seems all too familiar to the  children and young men standing around the grave site

A wounded Syrian girl waits for treatment. It has been reported that medical staff lack vital supplies needed to treat those affectedA wounded Syrian girl waits for treatment. It has been  reported that medical staff lack vital supplies needed to treat those  affected
VIDEO: Chemical attack near Damascus kills 213.  Graphic content

White House says investigation of Syria top  priority

Meanwhile, fighting in strife-hit  country  has fuelled a mass exodus of about  35,000 refugees into Iraq and risks  exploding into a full-blown side conflict as Kurdish militias battled  against  al-Qaida-linked fighters in the northeast.

SARIN: ONE OF THE MOST DEADLY CHEMICAL AGENTS

Activists say the nerve agent Sarin was used  in the alleged chemical weapons attack that killed up to 1,300  people.

Sarin is colourless, tasteless and odourless,  unlike mustard gas which smells of rotten onions or garlic.

It is one of the most toxic of the known  chemical warfare agents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention.

Once a person has breathed in Sarin, death  can occur within one to 10 minutes if there is no  treatment.

If it is drunk, the victim can survive for up  to 18 hours.

A fraction of an ounce of the nerve agent on  the skin can be fatal.

Exposure to the gas causes pupils to shrink  to pinpoint sizes and foaming at the lips.

Symptoms include paralysis, loss of  consciousness and respiratory failure.

Treatment needs to be given straight away and  antidotes include Atropine and pralidoxime chloride.

Syria is believed to have one of the largest  arsenals in the world of chemical weapons, including Sarin and mustard gas.

The European Union condemned the suspected  use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces Wednesday as ‘totally  unacceptable’, demanding an immediate investigation.

EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said  charges by Syria’s main opposition group that the chemical attack ‘should be  immediately and thoroughly investigated.’

A U.N. team is in Syria investigating  allegations that both rebels and  army forces used poison gas in the past, one  of the main disputes in  international diplomacy over Syria.

It ‘must be allowed full and unhindered  access to all sites,’ Ashton said, according to a spokesperson.

‘The EU reiterates that any use of chemical  weapons, by any side in Syria, would be totally unacceptable,’ she  said.

The authorities and all other parties in  Syria ‘need to provide all necessary support to and cooperation with the  mission’s operations,’ Ashton said as she gathered EU foreign ministers for a  meeting on the crisis in Egypt.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius,  speaking in Brussels, said if proven the use of chemical weapons would ‘not only  be a massacre, but also an unprecedented atrocity’.

Fabius said however that the accusations from  the Syrian opposition were ‘not yet verified’.

The White House says it’s ‘deeply concerned’  about reports that chemical weapons were used by Syria’s government against  civilians.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the  U.S. strongly condemns any use of chemical weapons and says the Obama  administration is urgently working to gather information. Earnest says the U.S.  is asking the U.N. to investigate and wants a Security Council  debate.

Syria must allow the UN inspectors immediate  access to investigate claims that chemical weapons were used in the attack,  William Hague has demanded.

Many women and children were among the dead. The area reportedly bombed is residentialMany women and children were among the dead. The area  reportedly bombed is residential

As the United Nations Security Council met to  discuss reports of a deadly chemical weapon attack, the Foreign Secretary said  that uncorroborated reports of toxic agents being used would mark a ‘shocking  escalation’ if they are verified and warned that those who use them ‘should be  in no doubt that we will work in every way we can to hold them to  account’.

Mr Hague said: ‘I am deeply concerned by  reports that hundreds of people, including children, have been killed in air  strikes and a chemical weapons attack on rebel-held areas near  Damascus.’

He added before a meeting with his French  counterpart: ‘I hope this will wake up some who have supported the Assad regime  to realise its murderous and barbaric nature.’

The United Nations Security Council, failed  to agree on on a firmly worded call on Syria during the two-hour  closed-door  meeting, sources said.

Argentina’s UN Ambassador Maria  Cristina  Perceval, the current council president, said afterwards that  the council  backed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s determination for ‘a  thorough, impartial  and prompt investigation’ into the allegations.

Diplomats, who did not want to be named, told  the Associated Press that Russia and China blocked a stronger press statement  supported by Britain, France,  the United States and others.

The team of UN inspectors was only  recently  granted access to Syria – and would need permission to extend  its work beyond  the sites where chemical weapons were previously alleged to have been  used.

Victim: A Syrian girl receiving treatment at a makeshift hospital, in Arbeen, DamascusVictim: A Syrian girl receiving treatment at a makeshift  hospital, in Arbeen, Damascus
These horrendous pictures were provided by citizen journalists in SyriaThese horrendous pictures were provided by citizen  journalists in Syria

‘There is no excuse for the Syrian regime not  to  provide access to the UN team that are in Damascus now to assess the use of  chemical weapons,’ Mr Hague said.

Russia, too, has urged an ‘objective’  investigation but Assad’s biggest foreign ally also heaped scepticism on his  enemies’ claims.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Moscow said  the release of gas after UN  inspectors arrived suggested that it was a rebel  ‘provocation’ to  discredit Syria’s government.

‘These reports are uncorroborated and we are  urgently seeking more information. But it is clear that if they are verified, it  would mark a shocking escalation in the use of chemical weapons in  Syria.

‘Those who order the use of chemical weapons,  and those who use them, should be in no doubt that we will work in every way we  can to hold them to account.

‘I call on the Syrian government to allow  immediate access to the area for the UN team currently investigating previous  allegations of chemical weapons use. The UK will be raising this incident at the  UN Security Council.’

Syria’s neighbour Turkey said it was clear  that chemical weapons had been used.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said  in an interview broadcast on Turkey’s Kanal 24 television: ‘Use of chemical  weapons in Syria is evident from the footage coming from there.

Horrific aftermath of chemical gas attack in  Damascus

Fighting in Syria has killed an estimated 100,000 people so farGrim toll: Fighting in Syria has killed an estimated  100,000 people so far

‘We have called for an immediate  investigation by the U.N. teams.’

A nurse at Douma Emergency Collection  facility, Bayan Baker, said the  death toll, as collated from medical centres in  the suburbs east of  Damascus, was 213.

‘Many of  the casualties are women and  children. They arrived with their pupil  dilated, cold limbs and foam in their  mouths. The doctors say these are  typical symptoms of nerve gas victims,’ the  nurse said.

ALLEGED CHEMICAL WEAPON ATTACKS IN SYRIA’S CIVIL  WAR

In July 2012, the Syrian government  admitted that Syria had stocks of chemical weapons, but said they would would  never be used ‘inside Syria’.

In March this year it was reported that  chemical weapons were used by rebels in the town of Khan al-Assal in northern  Syria, killing 16.

On the same day as the attack in Khan  al-Assal, the opposition uploaded videos they claimed showed victims of a  bombardment in the village of al-Otaybeh near Damascus.

On March 24 it was reported that two  people were killed and ‘dozens’ injured in Adra by ‘chemical phosphorus  bombs’.

On April 29 eyewitnesses said helicopters  dropped canisters onto the town of Saraqeb, hospitalising  eight.

Extensive amateur video and photographs  purporting to show victims appeared on the Internet. A video puportedly  shot  in the Kafr Batna neighbourhood showed a room filled with more than 90 bodies,  many of them children and a few women and elderly men.

Most of the bodies appeared ashen or pale but  with no visible injuries. About a dozen were wrapped in blankets.

Other footage showed doctors treating people  in makeshift clinics. One video showed the bodies of a dozen people lying on the  floor of a clinic, with no visible wounds.

The narrator in the video said they were all  members of a single family. In a corridor outside lay another five  bodies.

A photograph taken by activists in Douma  showed the bodies of at least 16 children and three adults, one wearing combat  fatigues, laid at the floor of a room in a medical facility where bodies were  collected.

Khaled Omar of the opposition Local  Council  in Ain Tarma said he saw at least 80 bodies at the Hajjah  Hospital in Ain Tarma  and at a makeshift clinic at Tatbiqiya School in  the nearby district of  Saqba.

‘The attack took place at around 3:00 a.m.  (local time). Most of those killed were in their homes,’ Omar said.

Syrian state television quoted a source as  saying there was ‘no truth whatsoever’ to the reports.

Syria is one of just a handful of countries  that are not parties to the  international treaty that bans chemical weapons,  and Western nations  believe it has caches of undeclared mustard gas, sarin and  VX nerve  agents.

Activists say most of those killed were in their homesActivists say most of those killed were in their  homes
Heartbreak: Relatives and activists inspect the bodies of the deadHeartbreak: Relatives and activists inspect the bodies  of the dead
British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the gas attacks are a 'shocking escalation'British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the gas  attacks are a ‘shocking escalation’

Assad’s officials have said they would never  use poison gas – if they had it – against Syrians. The United States and  European allies believe Assad’s forces used small amounts of sarin gas in  attacks in the past, which Washington called a ‘red line’ that justified  international military aid for the rebels.

Assad’s government has responded in the past  with accusations that it was the rebels that used chemical weapons, which the  rebels deny.

Western countries say they do not believe the  rebels have access to poison gas. Assad’s main global ally Moscow says  accusations on both sides must be investigated.

A Syrian family sits in a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Iraq. A Syrian family sits in a tent at Kawergost refugee camp  in Iraq. Around 34,000 Syrians, the vast majority of them Kurds, have fled the  region over a five days
Desperate: Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in DahukDesperate: Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the  Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk
Around 30,000 Syrians, the vast majority of them Kurds, have fled the region over a five-day stretch and crossed the border to the self-ruled Kurdish region of northern IraqAround 30,000 Syrians, the vast majority of them Kurds,  have fled the region over a five-day stretch and crossed the border to the  self-ruled Kurdish region of northern Iraq

Arab League Secretary General Nabil  Elaraby  yesterday called for United Nations inspectors to immediately  investigate  reports of the chemical attack.

‘The secretary general said in a statement he  was surprised this deplorable  crime would happen during the visit of a team of  international  investigators with the United Nations who are already tasked with  investigating chemical weapons use,’ the official news agency MENA  said.

‘He called on the inspectors to head  immediately to the eastern Ghouta (suburb of Damascus) to determine what  happened.’

The timing and location of the reported  chemical weapons use – just three days after the team of U.N. chemical experts  checked in to a Damascus hotel a few miles to the east at the start of their  mission – was surprising.

‘Logically, it would make little sense for  the Syrian government to employ chemical agents at such a time, particularly  given the relatively close proximity of the targeted towns (to the U.N. team),’  said Charles Lister, analysts at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency  Centre.

‘Nonetheless, the Ghouta region (where the  attacks were reported) is well known for its opposition leanings.

Authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan have imposed a quota in an effort to limit the flood of refugeesAuthorities in Iraqi Kurdistan have imposed a quota in  an effort to limit the flood of refugees

Jabhat al-Nusra has had a long-time  presence  there and the region has borne the brunt of sustained military  pressure for  months now,’ he said, referring to a hardline Sunni  Islamist rebel group allied  to al Qaeda.

‘While it is clearly impossible to confirm  the chemical weapons claim, it is  clear from videos uploaded by reliable  accounts that a large number of  people have died.’

The  Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a  Britain-based monitoring group,  said dozens of people were killed, including  children, in fierce  bombardment. It said Mouadamiya, southwest of the capital,  came under  the heaviest attack since the start of the two-year  conflict.

The Observatory called on the U.N. experts  and international organisations  to visit the affected areas to ensure aid could  be delivered and to  ‘launch an investigation to determine who was responsible  for the  bombardment and hold them to account’.

Exodus: The Syrians are fleeing into the Duhok region in north-west IraqExodus: The Syrians are fleeing into the Duhok region in  north-west Iraq

Meanwhile, about 35,000 refugees,  believed  to be mainly Syrian Kurds, have entered Iraq since last  Thursday, the U.N.  refugee agency UNHCR said.

UNHCR officials told an internal U.N. meeting  in Baghdad on Monday that up to 100,000 Syrian refugees could be expected to  flee to Iraq within the  next month, if the current pace continued, U.N. sources  said.

Fleeing bombardments and sectarian tensions  in parts of northern Syria  including Aleppo and Efrin, they arrive exhausted,  with many children  dehydrated from walking in the scorching heat.

U.S. ‘OPPOSES INTERVENTION  BECAUSE OF FEARS OVER SYRIAN REBELS’

The U.S. opposes even limited military  intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime  wouldn’t support American interests if they seized power.

The Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Martin  Dempsey, says the U.S. is capable of eliminating Syrian President Bashar Assad’s  air force and shifting momentum back toward the opposition.

But he says this would commit the U.S. to  another war and offer no peace strategy in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries.

Dempsey says Syria is not about choosing  between two sides. It means choosing one among many and that side must be ready  to promote U.S. interests. He said: ‘Today, they are not.’

Dempsey’s assessment came in a letter to Rep.  Eliot Engel of New York. A copy was obtained by The Associated  Press.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2398691/Syrias-darkest-hour-Hundreds-childrens-bodies-piled-high-nerve-gas-attack-near-Damascus-leaves-1-300-dead.html#ixzz2eEnivtzT Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

See Video’ at link above. There are no words!

These pictures of dead children show whoever did this is really inhumane. This  was clearly carried out by the Al-Qaeda backed rebels. President Assad has  absolutely nothing to gain from using chemical weapons and everything to loose by  using them. Anyone suspect this is a nudge by someone to drag us into this  conflict on the side of the Al-Qaeda backed rebels?

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