On Tuesday, April 4, the Syrian government was accused of carrying out a chemical attack on an area held by rebel groups. This is the first chemical weapons attack in months but it is not the first-time chemical weapons have been used in Syria’s 6-year civil war. This attack killed dozens of civilians including men, women, children, and the elderly. When news of the attack broke, the US and other western countries were quick to blame the Syrian government and call on its president, Bashar al-Assad, to stop the use of chemical weapons immediately. The US and its allies even called upon the Syrian government’s allies, Russia and Iran, to condemn and help stop these attacks.
The attack came in the form of a military air strike, dropping bombs on the people below. Shortly after the chemical attacks, rescue workers moved in to try and help the victims. Unfortunately, those trying to help were caught in a second wave of the attack and were also killed. The current estimate is that over 100 people were killed during these attacks.
According to rescue workers, this chemical attack is not like any that they have been seen recently. In the majority of cases, the Syrians have used chlorine in their chemical attacks, but in this case, a nerve agent was used. This is known due to the symptoms found in those who were in the attack. Chlorine attacks usually only have an effect on those who are trapped in closed spaces, however, this attack killed many of those who were outdoors. Some of their symptoms included constricted pupils, suffocation, foaming at the mouth, and more. All of these are characteristic of nerve agents which have been banned by the Geneva Convention.
Many volunteers in Syria are begging for U.S. intervention in the situation, most notably Kassem Eid. Eid discussed his experience with a CNN news anchor during a 2013 chemical attack during which he was almost deemed dead by rescue workers. Kassem has spoken to many important groups in the United States about his experience, and he is now begging for the US to intervene and help the Syrian people. He called out the broken promises of politicians in the past, specifically President Obama.
That same day, an emergency meeting was called by the UN Security Council to discuss and take action on the issue. The US, Britain, and France accused the Syrians of conducting this attack and Russia for not intervening to help stop the attack. The three countries had also drafted a resolution condemning Syria and demanding specific information regarding the attack. Many of those on the security council are concerned about what the future may hold if no action is taken. According to US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, the US might “take our own action” in dealing with the chemical attacks if the UN does not step in.