The US Congress lawmakers Wednesday heard gruesome new evidence provided by aid workers showing the effects of Assad’s use of chlorine gas against civilians.
Dr. Mohamed Tennari, a doctor who runs a field hospital in Sarmin, in Syria’s Idlib province, presented evidence of the attacks, compiled by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. SAMS says it has counted 31 chlorine attacks in the province between March 13 and June 9, with 580 Syrians affected and 10 killed from suffocation, including children.
“Though the chlorine-filled barrels have killed far less than barrel bombs filled with explosives and shrapnel, they have added a new type of psychological torture to the people of Idlib,” Tennari said to the committee, speaking through a translator.
Dr. Annie Sparrow, a pediatrician and health activist who has worked on the Syrian border since 2012, told the committee the Assad regime has only targeted civilian populations with improvised barrel bombs and chlorine gas attacks.
“I’m a doctor, and I’m very familiar with death. But I have never seen a more obscene way to kill children. I’ve never watched so many suffer in such an obscene manner,” Sparrow said. “Our preoccupation with ISIS is distracting us from these systematic assaults on civilian homes and neighborhoods and hospitals and schools.”
Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan said “the photos that we’ve seen are worth millions of words,” calling for publicly publishing the video to inform the Americans over the “brutality of the Assad regime.”
It comes a day after Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters he was “absolutely certain” Assad’s regime was carrying out chlorine gas attacks against civilians, the most stark and explicit assignment of blame from the Obama Administration since reports of attacks surfaced in September of 2014.
“It has been significantly documented; it’s dropped from airplane,” he said.
Kerry added that he’s discussed the findings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and, while he’s confident the Russians will raise the issue with the Assad regime again, patience is “wearing thin” over the “extraordinary depravity” of the weapons Assad is allegedly using against his own people.
“We are not simply sitting there and allowing this to happen without any efforts to see if there is a way to stop it,” Kerry said. “Thus far, it has not been stopped and it is only increasing the international community’s anger at the Assad regime.”
The Syrian Coalition said that the Assad regime’s frequent violations the UN Security Council’s resolution 2209 that condemns and bans the use of poison gas shows utmost disregard for international laws and conventions.
It stresses the need for a quick and strong response from the UN Security Council to these crimes under Chapter VII of the UN charter as is spelled out in Resolution 2209. “We lay legal responsibility to protect Syrian civilians on the UN Security Council, which is also responsible for preserving international peace and security, and work to prevent more casualties as a result of the continuing aerial bombardment campaigns waged by the Assad regime against civilians.”
“Assad’s continuance of committing more crimes will drag the country into a state of chaos where extremist organizations will flourish, making it imperative for friendly countries to support the FSA with advanced weapons to protect civilians and restore stability to Syria.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)