: As it states in the article, it's the Sunday
: Times, with photographs of Masa and Amani,
: who were interviewed by reporter Louise
: Callaghan, photos by Mahmoud al Basha.
: --Previous Message--
: --Previous Message--
: I'd say Masa and her mum Amani's story is
: more convincing than Fisk's source, who
: wasn't an eyewitness.
: Agree? ....
: Masa watched as her father dug into the bag
: of old clothes outside his tent and pulled
: out her purple T-shirt from near the bottom.
: "Smell it," he said, holding it
: out to me, his voice quiet. "Tell me,
: what does it smell like?" It smelt like
: a swimming pool. The stench of chlorine was
: a legacy of last Saturday night, when the
: chemical attack by President Bashar
: al-Assad's regime hit sevenyear-old Masa's
: home town, Douma, near Damascus.
: The strike spurred Britain into launching
: targeted attacks on Syria, together with
: France and the US. Early yesterday morning,
: their air strikes hit storage, research and
: military targets.
: As the missiles flew, 3,000 survivors of the
: chemical atrocity waited in a camp in
: northern Syria, desperate for their story to
: be heard. Many are still sick: pale,
: listless and coughing. Their neighbours and
: friends are dead.
: The Sunday Times is the first western media
: organisation to meet them. All provided
: corroborating testimonies that pointed to an
: attack with a chemical weapon.
: Masa was wearing her purple T-shirt at
: around 6pm last Saturday. Her family were
: hiding in a basement in Douma with 75 of
: their neighbours, as they waited out another
: night of barrel bombs launched by the Assad
: "The bombs were really strong that
: night," recalled Masa's mother Amani,
: 34. "They were so loud, and there was
: dust everywhere.
: "Then it was quiet, and we heard two
: bangs, but not like something exploded. Just
: like something fell. Then there was a
: hissing sound."
: Two of the young men in the basement
: volunteered to go and look to see what was
: happening. Seconds later, they came bolting
: back down. "Gas! Gas!" they
: screamed. "Everybody out!" The
: people in the basement knew what the gas
: would do. In 2013, an attack that the UN
: attributed to rockets containing sarin nerve
: agent killed at least 1,400 in nearby
: Amani did not hesitate. She grabbed Masa and
: ran towards the stairs. Her husband, Diaa,
: weak from diabetes, could not carry Masa's
: twin sister, Malaz, so his brother took her.
: As Amani climbed up, she saw white gas and
: dust pouring down past her. She poured water
: over Masa's mouth.
: "The gas was spicy," she said.
: "Spicy in my throat like chilli. I was
: vomiting and coughing. No one could breathe.
: Around me, people were just falling to the
: Amani collapsed, briefly unconscious. Masa
: lay next to her, foaming at the corners of
: her mouth.
: "My whole body didn't work," Amani
: said. "When I was climbing the stairs I
: could feel myself losing strength. I
: couldn't control my body. I was just shaking
: the whole time. There wasn't oxygen."
: By the time she came to, the building was
: being pummelled by a new round of barrel
: bombs. Her husband and her other daughter
: were nowhere to be seen.
: She found them on the second floor,
: collapsed after inhaling the gas, but
: conscious. It was dark, and the dust and the
: gas mixed in a choking, white miasma. The
: bombs were still crashing outside, making
: the room shake. In blind panic, they made
: for the street.
: Outside, their neighbours were milling
: around, some crying over relatives
: convulsing on the ground, white foam
: bubbling around their lips. Others were
: throwing water over those still conscious.
: It was the only thing that seemed to help.
: Amani phoned neighbours and friends to warn
: of the gas attack. But for many, it was too
: "There are three basements in our
: street," she said, sobbing. "Only
: three people died from ours,because we were
: warned. But the basement next door didn't
: hear the gas. They all died where they
: Choking and staggering, Amani and her family
: made it to a clinic. It was overwhelmed with
: dead and dying. The worst affected were put
: on respirators, but most were just sprayed
: down with water in the hope it would help.
: The twins, who could barely breathe, were
: given injections.
: "I saw a doctor. She started crying
: because she had 40 patients who needed
: medicine but she only had medicine for
: three," said Ibrahim, 50, another
: survivor who made it to the clinic.
: All the Douma survivors interviewed by The
: Sunday Times reported the same symptoms,
: which in some cases lasted for days: a
: feeling of loss of control in their limbs,
: white foaming at the mouth, coughing,
: vomiting and intense headaches. Medical
: professionals say these are symptoms
: consistent with exposure to nerve gas.
: The gas canisters are thought to have hit at
: least two separate sites in Douma, a
: district of the Damascus suburb of eastern
: Ghouta, which had been under siege for 4˝
: Three unrelated witnesses of the attack near
: al-Shuhada Square — where Amani's family
: lived — described a yellow gas smelling
: strongly of chlorine that seeped downwards
: before dissipating into white smog and dust.
: All reported an acute burning sensation in
: the throat and losing control of their
: bodies. One said the gas smelt like car
: "What they're describing is chlorine
: and what we suspect is a nerve agent mixed
: with chlorine," said Hamish de
: Bretton-Gordon, a former British army
: officer, chemical weapons expert and adviser
: to NGOs in Syria. The weaponisation of both
: nerve gas and chlorine against civilians is
: banned under international law.
: That is also the conclusion of Ibrahim
: Reyhani, a White Helmet civil defence
: volunteer who experienced the 2013 sarin
: attack on Ghouta and recognised what was
: happening as he tried to rescue victims on
: "I couldn't get near, I couldn't help
: anyone because the gas was so strong,"
: he said. "The effect of the gas was
: like sarin mixed with chlorine. It was the
: same as the 2013 attack. If it's just
: chlorine, if you smell it you can escape.
: But sarin you breathe and it kills
: By the next morning, the gas had receded
: and, wearing gas masks, he and his team
: entered the basements. They were crammed
: with people who had been hiding from the
: bombs. All were dead. Children, women and
: men, crowded together on the floor, limbs
: spread, mouths foaming.
: "There were many who died on the
: stairs," Reyhani said. "If it was
: chlorine, they could have escaped. But they
: died after just taking a few steps."
: Some of the bodies had broken green
: capillaries in their eyes. Their skin peeled
: off at a touch — and anyone who touched the
: bodies started getting sick. To
: decontaminate them, the White Helmets called
: in a fire truck to hose the corpses down in
: the streets.
: By mid-morning the day after the attack, the
: evacuation had begun. Crowds gathered in the
: ruined suburb for buses that would take them
: away from the homes they had clung to for so
: They were taken to a camp in northern Syria
: run by Afad, the Turkish state disaster and
: emergency management authority. Rows of
: pristine white tents house families who have
: lost everything.
: Many are still sick, while others suffer
: from continued contamination from their
: clothes and belongings.
: Amani, who has a retching cough, was rushed
: to hospital on Thursday, suffering from the
: after-effects of exposure to the gas. She
: was told to wash her clothes.
: "We were still getting sick from the
: bags and clothes we had in the
: basement," she said. "We didn't
: Others did not know about the gas — and
: "They were innocent people,"
: sobbed Amani. "They were our friends.
: They became numbers, but they're not. They
: are civilians and families."
: --Previous Message--
: A well respected and experienced war
: journalist at the site of the alleged
: attack, completely unhindered from moving
: around and interviewing people.
: As opposed to a US state-funded 'medical'
: organisation in Turkey.
: I wonder which is more convincing?
: --Previous Message--