Syria, April 6th 2018 – The city of Douma, which hosts one of the main bases of the Syrian rebel army as it fights against the Bashar Al-Assad government, suffers a chemical weapons attack, killing both military personnel and innocent civilians. Casualties number in the scores, along with many hundreds injured. World authorities immediately condemn the attack and, despite Assad’s denials, the UN starts an investigation. On April 21, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were permitted to enter Douma and started collecting samples as part of the investigation. Assad remains the main suspect.


Syrian children after the attack on Douma

April 8th – A missile raid strikes a Syrian T-4 military base near Homs, killing at least a dozen Syrian military personnel. The Syrian media and Russian President Putin initially blame Israel for the attack, though it is later revealed that the USA, UK, and France collaborated in firing more than 100 missiles at the targeted base. President Trump declares he doesn’t exclude the possibility of further attacks against Syria. Putin accuses the UN of heightening tensions by blaming Assad for the attack on Douma, but the American spokeswoman Heather Nauert accuses Putin himself of approving Assad’s dictatorship and its murderous attacks on civilians.

Nauert’s tweet

April 17th – The famous reporter Robert Fisk enters Douma and visits the hospitals. According to his reports in The Independent, he talked to Assim Rahaibani, one of the first medics to assist the victims of the attack, who claims that civilians were harmed not by chemical weapons but by “oxygen starvation.” Others claimed that they “never believed” that gas was being used, rather that these stories were propaganda spread by islamist groups. Yet, Fisk discloses that Rahaibani shows signs of strong bias in favor of the Assad regime, while France has announced it has sure evidence that chemical weaponry was used by the Syrian government. The WHO has “said its partners on the ground treated 500 patients ‘exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals’”. US Media have “quoted sources” claiming the same. The situation, on the verge of becoming a diplomatic crisis, remains contentious and precarious.

Link to Fisk’s report:
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-robert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

Robert Fisk
Updated to: 27-04.2018

Gabriele Gennarini

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