SAMS report says 161 chemical weapons used in Syria

Syrian American Medical Society report says 161 chemical weapons used in Syrian war until late 2015, mostly after UNSC resolution in 2013

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A woman, affected by what activists say was a gas attack, breathes through an oxygen mask inside a field hospital in Kfar Zeita village in the central province of Hama April 12, 2014.

Chemical weapons have been used at least 161 times in Syria from the beginning of the conflict through the end of 2015, said a new report by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) released on Monday. 

At least 1,491 people so far died and 14,581 people have been injured in chemical attacks, and the report shows that such attacks are increasing, with a high of at least 69 attacks last year.

The victims also suffer from dire psychological impacts of chemical attacks, from “post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, and depression, compounded by other daily horrors of life in a conflict zone.”

Most of the chemical attacks -77 percent- have occurred after the passage of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2118 in September 2013, which forbids the use of poison gases in Syria.

Thirty-six percent occurred after the council condemned the use of chlorine last year in its Resolution 2209 in March 2015.

Survivors from what activists say is a gas attack rest inside a mosque in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013.

The US-based nonprofit based the list on the reports and the first-hand accounts from physicians and health workers in Syria.

An additional 133 reported chemical attacks were also compiled "that could not be fully substantiated."

It said “the use of chemical weapons is part of a strategy of displacing Syrians in opposition-held territories.”

Syrian regime has been repeatedly accused by the United States and other Western countries of using chemical weapons on its own people.

Reports also have surfaced in recent months that DAESH has used toxic chemicals in Syria.

The organisation is asking the 15-member UN Security Council and the international community to quickly identify perpetrators and hold them accountable through the International Criminal Court or other means.

Houssam Alnahhas, a co-author of the report, said he and fellow Syrians are losing hope as the Security Council does nothing in response to repeated violations of its own resolutions.

He now saves documentation of any suspected attacks "for history, you know, so next generations will know that chemical agents were used against civilians and the world just watched people die."

Both Alnahhas and Zaher Sahloul, the senior adviser and past president of SAMS, said they've seen no indication that the current fragile ceasefire negotiated by the US and Russia has stopped reports of possible chemical weapons attacks.

“In response to chemical attacks in Syria, the international community sends us more antidotes. This means that the world knows that chemical weapons will be used against us again and again,” the SAMS report said, quoting Dr Mohammed Tennari from Idlib, Syria.

“What we need most is not antidotes -what we need is protection, and to prevent another family from slowly suffocating together after being gassed in their home.”

TRTWorld and agencies