By BERNADETTE ANVIA and JAMILA RIZVI
WARNING: This article deals with distressing content, and some readers may find the images upsetting.
(1) Why is Syria constantly in the news at the moment?
Reports came out of Syria a fortnight ago, that chemical weapons had been used by the Syrian Government on civilians. The attack, which was allegedly sanctioned by Syrian President al-Assad killed 1400 people, including hundreds of children.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said today that evidence shows that the chemical weapon used was sarin gas. Sarin is a horrific form of chemical weaponry that was first developed by the Nazis and was later used by Saddam Hussein in Iraq against the Kurdish population.
Sarin gas attacks the human nervous system, stopping nerves in muscles from working and causing the the body to asphyxiate because the person can no longer use their muscles to breathe. As a result, many of the distressing photos from Syria last week showed unmarked bodies, without a spot of blood or a visible wound on them.
If these reports are true then this action by the Syrian Government against its own people would be considered a crime against humanity under international law.
(2) Tony Abbott said it was a case of ‘baddies versus baddies’ – who is fighting who?
Over the past few years, there have been a series of civilian uprisings (rebellions from the people against their government) in the Middle East. The term loosely used to describe this turmoil and instability in the region was the ‘Arab Spring’.