Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack: Will the world react differently this time?
A child suffering from the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun (Orient)
The early morning of April 4, 2017, in Idlib’s Khan Sheikhoun was not like any other day in its history. Al-Yusuf family members, including the twins Aya and Ahmed (less than one year old), were deep asleep. At 6:34 am, the twins’ mother woke up to the sound of a warplane firing several missiles. One of them was close. The mother looked at her two infants and made sure that the rockets did not hurt them. BUT, this time it was a different story.
Khan Sheikhoun residents rushed to the targeted site. At first sight, they recognized the difference from all previous strikes: Men, women and children crying out of their pain without bleeding. Their bodies tremble and foam comes out of their mouths. The White Helmets rushed to the site. Fortunately, among the paramedics were a number of nurses and a doctor who knew immediately that the weapon used this time was a chemical one. With the help of locals, they rushed to help the injured to the only hospital in Khan Sheikhoun. Half an hour after the first attack, Assad’s air force targeted the hospital with a rocket to destroy it and deny the injured access to medical treatment.
Instantly, 50 civilians were killed, including 25 from al-Yusuf family. Among them were the twins and their mother. Later, 53 others died, some were paramedics and civilians who were present at the hospital to help the wounded. The total number of victims of this brutal attack is 103 martyrs, including 33 children and 20 women, in addition to more than 500 injured people. I communicated with one of the doctors who helped the injured and assured me that the medical signs suffered by the injured showed that the weapon used is the deadly sarin, one of the most dangerous chemical weapons manufactured by the Nazis who refused to use it during WW II, making Assad and his supporters in the highest rank of brutality and criminality.
This attack is not the first of its kind. The Assad regime used chemical weapons over the past six years more than 10 times. The deadliest, which took place in the summer of 2013 claiming the lives of nearly 1500 civilians and wounding 3500 others, did not stir up the conscience of the international community. The only procedure taken then was to withdraw the weapon from the criminal without punishing him for his crime. The crime committed in Khan Sheikhoun confirms my information that the Assad regime continues to produce chemical weapons in the special laboratories of Barza, as part of the Higher Center for Scientific Research in the capital Damascus. This proves that the international community itself is an associate of Assad in his crimes despite statements of condemnation that pop up here and there. And this will remain to be the case for a long time to come.
Eva J. Koulouriotis is a Greek political analyst specialized in the Middle East. Twitter: @evacool_f, Facebook: @evakoulouriotis