The War Against Innocents: The April Douma Attacks

The chapters of the Syrian War appear cyclical and endless, with the only apparent victory, attained by malignant forces, emanating from the rising civilian body count over the years. April 7th of 2018, inked into the pages of Syrian warfare, the death and suffering of dozens, and possibly hundreds of innocent children and civilians through the use of chemical weapons.

The actual death toll remains to be contested. Media reports have indicated that chlorine was the chemical substance of choice in these attacks. Yet, such information has been heavily refuted by Russian authorities on the strength of scientific evidence.Turning first to the internal response, the Syrian government has outright denied involvement in the attacks, with BBC World noting that the attack may have heightened tensions between Western power states and Syria.

High-level Syrian officials believe that the attribution of blame is a power-play tactic emulated by either rebel forces or opposing Western powers targeted at bringing Syrian authorities into disrepute and amplifying the climate of distrust. Indeed, BBC World’s online article titled ‘Syria War: What we know about Douma chemical attacks’ draws upon the statement of Bashar al-Jaafari who suggests that the Western retaliation to the event mirrors the American response to the Iraqi situation. Although not stated specifically from al-Jaafari’s statement, it does not prove too far-fetched and fanciful to interpret his concerns as pointing to a possible US style Iraqi intervention occurring in Syria.

And while it is not an issue to be resolved within the scope of this article, what is to said is that civilian lives are being sacrificed in the name of a baseless war with no purpose or end. Return to a state of peace, while a utopian vision, is the only course that will serve the cause of humanity and ending such mass suffering.

Returning to the matter of chemical use, Russian authorities and the Organization for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons remains strongly divided on the issue of whether chlorine was in fact used. Both judgements were made in light of scientific evidence, yet arguably this in itself points to the atmosphere of mass distrust.

In my view, although it is important to pinpoint precisely what substance was utilized, it is equally and arguably even more so significant to capture the gravity of human suffering. Here, BCC World’s article accounted for a statistic presented by varying bodies such as the World Health Organization – which accounted for the death toll as standing at 43. The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) held that the death toll at 42.

In stark contrast to these internationally based and recognized bodies, the Syrian Civil Defense once proclaimed the figure as standing in excess of 150. This act of retracting the death toll number from exceeding 150 to mirroring the account of other official bodies appears highly questionable and alarming. In fact, it may point to the instability of the region and the heightened degree of vulnerability.

The inability or supposedly hesitancy to account for the actual death toll, as well as the disparity of what chemical was actually used, establishes the highly unstable nature of the regime, where human dignity has been readily sacrificed in the name of a war layered with ambiguities.

Nat Kumar