Inside the Deadly Syrian Chemical Attack: Doctor Gives TheBlaze His Chilling Firsthand Account

The Blaze

Dr. Abo watched as the lifeless bodies of Syrian children were placed on cots inside the field hospital in eastern Ghouta on the night of the chemical attacks.

An hour earlier, the mosques scattered throughout this town near the eastern part of Damascus used their speakers not for the call to prayer but like a siren warning residents to "stay in your home, close your doors, close your windows, we are under a chemical attack."

Dr. Abo, who is only going by his first name for his protection, said he could see the plumes of smoke rising from the explosions in the surrounding neighborhoods that were under attack.

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Doctor Gives TheBlaze His Chilling Firsthand Account of Syrian Chemical Attack

FILE - This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Credit: AP

"I just want this to stop," Dr. Abo told TheBlaze by Skype, from his home in eastern Ghouta, as explosions and gunfire could be heard in the background during the Internet phone conversation.

"I hope the killing of my people stops -- if only for one day, two days, for one week," he added. "Whatever the world wants, even if it means Bashar Assad leaves this country safely. I hope the world finds it in their heart to make this stop."

UN inspectors, whom Dr. Abo was hoping to meet, were due to begin a second day of investigation into the alleged chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs. Dr. Abo said what they will find is victims, the dead and grieving families and "evidence that Assad used Sarin on his own people." The field hospital he worked in that night had roughly 600 people and among them were 35 dead children, he said.

On Monday, the UN team came under sniper fire when they tried to visit Moadamiya. The six vehicle convoy was shot at an area known as the buffer zone between rebel and government areas near Damascus as it traveled to Moadamiya and Ghouta.

Syrian opposition told TheBlaze that more than 1,400 people died in eastern Ghouta and more than 200 in the western neighborhood of Moadamiya in last Wednesday's attack. TheBlaze could not independently verify the claims.

A U.S. official, who spoke to TheBlaze on condition of anonymity, said the evidence is overwhelming that Assad's regime is behind the attacks that took place. He said that there is reason to believe that Assad has protected his chemical stockpiles by placing them in areas that are highly populated by civilians.

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Doctor Gives TheBlaze His Chilling Firsthand Account of Syrian Chemical Attack

U.S. Navy Sets Destroyers On Standby For Possible Strike On Syria

In a response to a alleged chemical weapons attack on its own people by the Syrian regime the USS Mahan, the USS Barry, the USS Ramage, and the USS Gravely, all Arleigh Burke-class destroyers carrying Tomahawk land-attack missiles, are en route or in position in the eastern Mediterranean for a possible strike on Syrian military assets on August 28, 2013. Credit: Getty Images

"We believe Assad's chemical stockpile is scattered throughout the country," the official said. "We also believe he's placed them among the civilian population in preparation for any type of future retaliation."

Sarin gas is the most volatile of the nerve agents, according to the Centers For Disease Control, in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC website states that the odorless gas can easily and quickly evaporate from a liquid into a vapor and spread into the environment, infecting people "even if they do not come in contact with the liquid form of sarin."

According to the CDC, symptoms of Sarin will appear within a few moments after exposure to the gas vapors. The list of signs and symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, blurred vision, drooling and excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, headaches, irregular heart rate, convulsions, paralysis and death.

Dr. Abo said, however, that survivors of the attack described a strange pesticide smell in the air, "which makes me believe another chemical agent was used or they mixed the Sarin with something."

When rescue crews went out in search of victims some described the horror of what they found, saying it "looked like they were sleeping but the scarves wrapped around their children's faces tell a different story," Dr. Abo said.

The victims struggled to survive and did "everything they could to save their babies but they didn't know that going into their basements was a death sentence," said Dr. Abo.

He said the people in eastern Ghouta are frightened and prepared for Assad to retaliate again with chemical weapons. He said the Free Syrian Army, Commanded by Gen. Salim Idriss, along with other rebel factions are holding off Assad's loyalist army and "they are defending the lines."

As for European and U.S. mounting pressure to airstrike Syrian munitions and target Syrian army compounds, Dr. Abo and others say it will not be enough.

"I don't think an airstrike will end this tragedy," Dr. Abo said. "Only a full strike on Assad's forces and an elimination of Assad - his removal - will be the only way to end this tragedy totally."

 

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