I Am Syria: The Fate of Douma City

The Fate Of Douma City

On April 7th 2018, reports started coming in from medics that civilians were coming in for treatment displaying symptoms of a chemical attack. Shortly after, video and pictures surfaced showing tens of dead bodies of women and children, along with scenes of families who suffocated in bunkers that became gas chambers after the attacks with no escape. Final death tolls reported 55 civilians dead and at least 1,000 injured.

On April 7th 2018, reports started surfacing that civilians were coming into Syrian hospitals displaying symptoms of a chemical attack. Shortly after, video and pictures surfaced showing tens of dead bodies of women and children, along with scenes of families suffocated in bunkers that became gas chambers after filling up with chlorine gas. Final death tolls reported 55 civilians dead and at least 1,000 injured.

​After being captured by rebel forces in 2012, government forces counterattacked the area of Eastern Ghouta in May 2013, beginning a siege.  Government forces then imposed restrictions on humanitarian supplies to Eastern Ghouta while simultaneously striking the area with air artillery.

In August 2013, Eastern Ghouta witnessed the deadliest chemical attacks since the Iran-Iraq war. Government forces launched rockets in the area containing sarin gas that killed over 1,700 people. Civilians never recovered and lived mostly on aid from outside sources.

Despite de-escalation agreement attempted in late 2017, the situation escalated in November. Between the start of heavy fighting in November 2017 up until the escalation through February 2018, the SNHR reported that 1,121 civilians had lost their lives, including 281 children and 171 women. There were more than 18 attacks on medical facilitates, 32 attacks on local markets and 11 attacks on schools. The SNHR also reported that chemical weapons and four cluster munitions were used by Syrian government, and government backed forces.

​In March, government forced broke up Eastern Ghouta, but Douma city was controlled by Jaysh al-Islam, who was holding onto the area and not evacuating like other rebel groups. Negotiations with the group stalled on April 6th 2018, resuming air strikes.

On April 7th 2018, two attacks took place in Douma City. One in north-western Douma on Saada Bakery, and the next on Martyrs Square according to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).

Medics began reporting they were treating civilians with symptoms consistent with those of chlorine gas, and reported strong chlorine odor. Symptoms included acute dyspnea, conjunctivitis, and oral foaming.

​Aid groups and eyewitnesses immediately began blaming the Syrian regime and their allies for the chemical attack. Many agreed the attacks were aimed to break the will of rebel groups so they would let go of the area and evacuate. Groups also noted that Regime forces and allies have used chemical weapons numerous times during the seven year war. The UN found that three of these occasions included the use of chlorine gas.
Shortly after the attacks, Russian military operatives announced that the Syrian Government was in full control of the town as rebels controlling the area surrender.

On April 12th, it was announced that the fact-finding team from the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was on its way to Syria to investigate the chemical attacks.

The international community was quick to denounce the attacks, claiming action would be taken against the Syrian regime and their allies. On April 14th, 2018, the US, backed by Britain and France led air strikes against Syria, targeting area they claimed were vital to Syria’s chemical weapons program.  Shortly after the air strikes, the US, France and Britain laid out evidence that the chemical attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian Regime. They cited eyewitness accounts of government helicopters in the area, and accounts of the same helicopters taking off from the nearby airfield.

The future of Douma city and Eastern Ghouta is unclear as the investigation by the OPCW in still underway. The small agricultural town of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the capital city of Damascus, is home to over 400,000 people that are still in dire need of aid and medical attention after the chemical attacks.

​After being captured by rebel forces in 2012, government forces counterattacked the area in May 2013, beginning the siege on Eastern Ghouta.  Government forces then imposed restrictions on humanitarian supplies to the area while simultaneously striking the area with air artillery.

In August 2013, Eastern Ghouta witnessed the deadliest chemical attacks since the Iran-Iraq war. Government forces launched rockets in the area containing sarin gas that killed over 1,700 people. The area never recovered and lived mostly on aid from outside sources.

Despite de-escalation agreement attempted in late 2017, the situation escalated in November. Between the start of heavy fighting in November 2017 up until the escalation through February 2018, the SNHR reported that 1,121 civilians had lost their lives, including 281 children and 171 women. There were more than 18 attacks on medical facilitates, 32 attacks on local markets and 11 attacks on schools. The SNHR also reports that chemical weapons and four cluster munitions were used by Syrian government, and government backed forces.

​In March, government forced broke up Eastern Ghouta, but Douma city was controlled by Jaysh al-Islam, who was holding onto the area and not evacuating like other rebel groups. Negotiations with the group stalled on April 6th 2017, resuming air strikes in the area.

On April 7th 2017, two attacks took place in Douma City. One in noth-western Douma on Saada Bakery, and the next on Martyrs Square according to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).

Medics began reporting treating civilians with symptoms consistent with those of chlorine gas, and reported strong chlorine odor. Symptoms included acute dyspenea, conjunctivitis, oral foaming and miosis.

​Aid groups and eyewitnesses immediately began blaming the Syrian Regime and their allies for the chemical attack. Many agreed the attacks were aimed to break the will of rebel groups so they let go of the area and evacuate. Groups also noted that Regime forces and allies have used chemical weapons numerous times during the seven year war. The UN found that three of these occasions included the use of chlorine gas.  Shortly after the attacks, Russian military operatives announced that the Syrian Government was in full control of the town as rebels controlling the area surrender.

On April 12th, it was announced that the fact-finding team from the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was on it’s way to Syria to investigate the chemical attacks.

The international community was quick to denounce the attacks, claiming action would be taken against the Syrian Regime and their allies. On April 14th, 2017, the US, backed by Britain and France led air strikes against Syria, targeting area they claimed were vital to Syria’s chemical weapon program.  Shortly after the air strikes, the US, France and Britain laid out evidence that the chemical attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian Regime. They cited eyewitness accounts of government helicopters in the area, and taking off from the nearby airfield.

The future of Douma city and Eastern Ghouta is unclear as the investigation by the OPCW in still underway. The small agricultural town of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the capital city, is home to over 400,000 people that are still in dire need of aid and medical attention after the chemical attacks.

Author: Sarah Lafen

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