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The Syrian conflict: Enough is enough.

The syrian conflict
An image from one of the videos uploaded to YouTube by civilians.

By SAMAH HADID

WARNING: This article deals with distressing content, and some readers may find the images upsetting.

Scores of children choking from chemical gas, suffering convulsions, mouths filled with foam as others gasp for air.

These are images I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.

‘Massacre kills almost 1300 Syrians attacked by toxic gas’.

These are words I never thought I’d read in my lifetime.

Distressing reports coming out of Syria suggest that the Assad regime has used toxic chemical weapons against opposition groups, including women and children, in Damascus.  The alleged death toll from these attacks is anywhere between 200 to 1300.

The most horrific aspect of these allegations is that chemical weapons, specifically nerve gas, have been used against children – innocent bystanders of this ugly war.

These chemical weapons are banned under international law and the effects of such chemical nerve agents are toxic .

The syrian conflict
This video shows the bodies of small children, reportedly victims of nerve gas.
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Efforts to curb the use of chemical weapons began in the aftermath of the First World War (during which they were used by all sides). By World War II only Italy and Japan used them regularly. Since then their use has been confined to rogue nations.

While the footage has yet to be fully verified, the images of children suffering from the effects of chemical weapons are forever imprinted in my mind.  The videos spreading online show the surreal aftermath of what appear to be gas attacks.

Graphic videos show civilians and children suffering from convulsions, loss of consciousness, vomiting, salivation and suffocation – all of which are symptoms of chemical nerve gas.

I’m left shaken after watching the disturbing footage of the aftermath of the Syrian conflict- children suffering seizures and choking, amid rooms filled with dead bodies.

To think that this is the same peaceful neighborhood I once visited 3 years ago, now turned into a chaotic scene of terrified children choking and dead bodies lined up on the ground, is mind-boggling.

These horrific images reflect the unconscionable nature of this now two-year-long civil war and the atrocious methods used by the Assad regime.

And in typical fashion, the Assad regime denies these reports and accuses the opposition of fabricating these attacks, while the international community seeks clarity and calls for investigations. Coincidentally these reports have emerged while UN chemical inspectors arrive in Syria. It remains to be seen if UN inspectors are allowed to visit the sites of these alleged attacks.

However, several international experts have corroborated the footage and confirm the condition of children in these images is consistent with the effects of chemical agents.

This is the latest alleged war crime committed by the Assad regime and joins an exhaustive list of crimes against humanity committed since the start of the civil war, a war that has left over 100,000 dead and nearly 2 million Syrians displaced. The reported war crimes have included torture and unlawful killings. And, to be clear, both sides are guilty of crimes:  reports also illustrate that the armed opposition have committed atrocities too.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the claims of these chemical attacks. While further investigation is needed, there comes a point when the red line is crossed. When will the international community serve its purpose and declare enough is enough!

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The syrian conflict
Samah Hadid.

The response should start with the United Nations Security Council referring the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes committed and prosecute guilty parties.

Whether we ever reach this point is unclear. But while world leaders spend time deliberating over their “concerns”, the images of dead bodies will continue to circulate as the regime is given the license to continue its killing spree.

Both targeting children in such an inhumane way and remaining complacent in light of these attacks reveals humanity’s darkest face.

As we have seen over the course of this civil war, the more world leaders sit back and watch, the more brutal the regime becomes, the bloodier the crimes get.

World leaders would never accept this for their own children, so how can we allow this to happen to others?

On a basic human level we should be disturbed by these practices and as global citizens we should call for stronger action from our governments.

After the atrocities of the Second World War and genocides passed, the United Nations vowed we would “never again” allow such horrors to take place. My deepest fear, which is becoming a reality , is that in years to come we will look back on our inaction towards Syria and ask ourselves “how did we let this happen?”

Samah Hadid is a human rights campaigner, you can follow her on twitter @samahhadid.

Please share to spread the word about the devastating effects of the Syrian conflict and become one of the global citizens calling for stronger action from governments if these atrocities are proven.

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