Surpassing Criminal Barbarity
"Their pupils were as small as pinpricks, their skin was cold. They were unresponsive like zombies."
"Chemical attacks leave no marks. It's a silent killer that works its way through the body slowly."
Mamoun Najem, physician, al-Rahma hospital, Idlib
"The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food."
"We've received victims of chlorine before -- this was completely different."
"Victims had vomit from the nose and mouth, a dark yellow colour, sometimes turning to brown. They had paralysis of their respiratory functions -- children were dying faster than adults because of this."
Unnamed hospital nurse
"[The Syrian airforce struck Khan Sheikhoun] between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. local time [Tuesday; the target had been a large terrorist ammunition depot] on the town's eastern outskirts."
"On the territory of the depot, there were workshops which produced chemical warfare munitions. Terrorists had been transporting chemical munitions from this largest arsenal to the territory of Iraq."
"[It seemed] pretty fanciful [Russian explanation of chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun]. "Axiomatically, if you blow up Sarin, you destroy it."
"It's very clear it's a Sarin attack. The view that it's an al-Qaeda or rebel stockpile of Sarin that's been blown up in an explosion, I think is completely unsustainable and completely untrue."
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commanding office, British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment.
"The likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparent lack o =f external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms, including acute respiratory distress as the main cause of death."According to Hasan Haj Ali, Free Idlib Army rebel group commander, Russia's claim of defense of the Syrian regime represented an outright "lie" for the simple reason that rebel fighters lacked the capacity to produce nerve agents. The strange disparity in the stated timing also failed to jell with reality; the chemical weapons attack, witnessed as falling canisters from aircraft, took place at 6:30 a.m., not the later time frame that Russia quoted.
World Health Organization
According to Matthew Rycroft, Britain's UN representative, the United Kingdom had no intelligence whatever that non-state actors in Syria were in possession of the kind of chemical weaponry consistent with the agonizing symptoms seen in the victims of the attack. And, France's Francois Delattre pointed out that "no fire" erupted in the wake of the airstrike, even though a strike on an ammunition depot "would have caused a fire".
Although Moscow claimed that the Islamic State group had forwarded chemical weaponry to Iraq, they have no presence in Khan Sheikhoun. U.S. intelligence is satisfied that it has exhausted all avenues to determine who was responsible for the latest chemical attack on the city in Idlib province, and without a shadow of a doubt they remain convinced that the Syrian military, despite its denials, carried out the attack at the instruction of Bashar al-Assad.
The New York Times now reports that the Trump administration has carried out a substantive missile attack in Syria, responding to the Sarin attack that killed over 80 people in Khan Sheikhoun two days earlier. It has been reported that dozens of Tomahawk missiles were aimed at an airbase in Syria, according to American military officials. The question now is how and if Moscow is prepared to respond.
Biological tests that were undertaken confirmed that it was, as suspected, Sarin gas that the regime used to produce an agonizing death, taking the lives of entire families, and an estimated thirty children. It us obvious that had the Obama administration followed through on its threat after the Ghouta suburb of Damascus was hit by a chemical attack in 2013 when over a thousand people died, the entire trajectory of the six-year war would have been different.
At that time, President Assad was anxious to avert military action threatened through 'red lines' being crossed, so he was amenable to the plan that Vladimir Putin put to President Obama who was no doubt just glad to have the matter taken off his hands, regretting what he had committed himself to, relieved to have President Putin solve the pressing problem of making good on the clout he passed over to Russia. In the process severely diminishing the reputation of the United States.
Even more significantly, becoming an accessory to simply standing by and allowing the Syrian airforce to drop an estimated 200 barrel bombs weekly on civilian populations in rebel-held areas of Syria. A good proportion of the deaths that have occurred since that deflated warning of American intervention could have been averted had the U.S. and its allies set up a no-fly zone over rebel-held areas, well before Russian intervention.