The walls of an emergency room in the rebel-held suburb of Douma echo the pained cries of children. Those who are able to scream are considered lucky for the hearts of the silenced will most likely never beat again.
The city of Douma has been destroyed by a suspected chemical attack that took place late Saturday. Many people reported breathing problems after the initial attack in the afternoon. Shortly after nightfall, a government helicopter dropped exploding barrels filled with gas.
Upon hearing the first strike, many families sought shelter in their basements, not realizing that safety would not be found even in the walls of their own homes. By Sunday morning, rescue workers had found more than 42 people who had died in their homes from suffocation- white foam coming from their mouths and noses.
Emergency rooms and medical clinics were flooded with those frantically gasping for air, their eyes burning from the chemicals. Aid workers struggled to treat everybody in time, being forced to choose between patients.
Despite claims that chemical weapons were not used, Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets believes that chlorine gas and another unknown stronger gas were dropped on the city. The Syrian Civil Defense and the Syrian American Medical society released a joint statement that suggests chemical weapons were in fact used in the attack.
Both Syrian state news and the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministry deny the use of chemical weapons attack despite the number of people who exhibited symptoms of chemical exposure. Aid groups believe President Bashar al-Assad’s government is to be blamed for this attack. The British Foreign Office has called for an urgent investigation into the horrific event.
U.S. President Donald Trump has promised that global action will be taken if it is confirmed that chemical weapons were used in Saturday’s attack. Mr. Trump even went so far as to blame former President Barack Obama, stating in a tweet that if he “had crossed his stated Red Line in The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago!”
Douma is the last remaining city in Eastern Ghouta under the control of rebel group Jaish al-Islam. Syrian state news agency, SANA reports that pro-government forces and their allies launched an attack on Douma on Friday in a response to a shelling carried out by Jaish al-Islam in Damascus. Friday’s attack broke 10 days of peace in Douma.
The use of chemical weapons is considered a war crime and a violation of the international humanitarian law reflected in the Geneva convention. Many are left wondering when international forces will step in to put an end to the senseless killing.
The limp and lifeless body of a toddler on the floor of a hospital sums up the attack in one heartbreaking visual. Some parties point fingers, others deny responsibility. No matter which perspective the story is told from, the end result is the same.