Tracey Shelton and Peter gelling raise the issue whether the Syria government has deployed sarin gas or tear gas against civilians.
Looking at video and photos obtained by GlobalPost at the scene, experts say the spent canister found in Younes’ house and the symptoms displayed by the victims are inconsistent with a chemical weapon such as sarin gas, which is known to be in Syria’s arsenal. Sarin is typically delivered using artillery shells or spray tanks, not in the grenade-like device found in this Aleppo attack and in other similar attacks reported in recent days.
While analysts have not been able to identify the canister, they said tear gas, some kind of generated smoke, as well as any number of chemicals found in military munitions and devices, could also have been responsible. Chemicals used for riot control are not prohibited by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.
In recent years, in other countries in the Middle East where security forces used tear gas on protesters, witnesses reported seeing victims foam at the mouth, convulse and twitch — the same symptoms seen in the Syrian victims.
The telltale sign of a sarin gas attack is myosis, or constricting of the pupils, and fasciculations, the medical term for tremors. While GlobalPost confirmed that some of the victims in the April 13 attack suffered from tremors, it was unable to confirm any of them had myosis.
Moreover, experts say an attack by sarin gas would cause virtually anyone who had come into contact with the toxin to immediately feel its effects. Exposure to even a very small amount of sarin could be lethal. While there were casualities in the Aleppo attack, most of the victims survived, which would not likely be the outcome of a sarin attack in a confined environment.
I’m sure most laypeople wouldn’t care if it were sarin or CS, for any conclusion. But, as Shelton says on Democracy Now!, that confusion is just a small piece of a greater murkiness that should give us pause to consider.
It’s a—it’s a big mess now. And I think international intervention could have worked maybe a year ago, but now it’s become very complicated. There’s a lot of elements involved. And they’re talking about the possibility of arming the rebels now. Obviously something has to happen as far as—yes, the Syrian regime are killing many people, and this fighting is killing many people. But the answer is very complicated. You have an opposition that is fractionated, and they all have different agendas. They have different—different affiliations, many with outside groups. So, it’s a very complicated question, and I think that even once the regime falls, the fighting is probably not going to stop for quite awhile.
I really think the U.S. shouldn’t start what it can’t figure out how to finish.
Finding ways to help the refugees and displaced, and to get food to half-starving neighborhoods in places like Homs, are about the best the US could do. I think we’re on the verge of having a plausible humanitarian corridor in the north, and Jordan is considering a buffer zone in the south.
It is not as if the world is stepping up on humanitarian aid in the first place; why would anybody think they will risk even more with a military role? Lets see billions in humanitarian aid flow to the Syrian people– that might sustain them for their fight against tyranny. But even that is not being done.
It is a horrible situation. It breaks our hearts every day. But here as in medicine, the first rule has to be to do no harm, to avoid making things worse. It would be very, very easy to make things worse.
Not making life worse? When did that ever stop a politician!