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Posts Tagged ‘Free Syrian Army

Diary of Syrian Kidnapping: Richard Engel Reveals…

NBC News’s Richard Engel was dispatched to cover Syria’s civil war last December (2013?).

He and his crew were dragged from their car at gunpoint, blindfolded, gagged, and held captive by the shabbiha militia for 5 days.

Engel documented his captivity in April’s 2013 issue of Vanity Fair in a journal-like format, of which this is an excerpt. 

A group of about 15 armed men were fanning out around us. Three or four of them stood in the middle of the road blocking our vehicles. The others went for the doors. They wore black jackets, black boots, and black ski masks. They were professionals and used hand signals to communicate.

A balled fist meant stop. A pointed finger meant advance.

Each man carried an AK-47. Several of the gunmen began hitting the windows of our car and minivan with the stocks of their weapons. When they got the doors open, they leveled their guns at our chests.

Time was slowing down as if I’d been hit in the head. Time was slowing down as if I were drowning.

This can’t be happening. I know what this is. These are the shabbiha. They’re fucking kidnapping us.

“Get out!” a gunman was yelling as he dragged Aziz from the car.

Then I saw the container truck. It wasn’t far away, parked off the road and hidden among olive trees. The metal doors at its rear stood open, flanked by gunmen.

We’re going into that truck.

I got out of the car. Two of the gunmen were already marching Aziz to the truck. He had his hands up, his shoulders back, his head tilted forward to protect against blows from behind.

Maybe I should run right now. But the road is flat and open. The only cover is by the trees near the truck. But where?

I saw John standing by the minivan. Gunmen were taking Ian toward the truck. It was his turn. Like me, John hadn’t been touched yet.

Our eyes made contact. John shrugged and opened his hands in disbelief. Time was going very slowly now, but my mind was racing like a panicked heart in a body that can’t move.

“Get going!” a gunman yelled at me in Arabic, pointing his weapon at my chest.

I looked at him blankly, pretending not to understand.

Foreigners who speak Arabic in the Middle East are often assumed to be working for the C.I.A. or Israel’s intelligence agency the Mossad. The gunman took me by the finger, holding on to it by the very tip. I could have pulled it away with the smallest tug.

John was the next to join us in the back of the truck. He walked slowly, as if being escorted to a waiting limo. John is a New Yorker and was dressed entirely in black. He has long white hair and a devilish smile, and his nickname is the Silver Fox.

John and I had been in a lot of rough places—Libya, Iraq, Gaza. John, Ghazi, and Aziz were among my closest friends in the world.

At least I’ll die with my friends.

The rebel commander Abdelrazaq was confused. He thought this was a misunderstanding. He thought that this was a group of rebels who’d gone rogue and were acting like commandos.

“What are you doing?” he yelled to the gunmen as they loaded him into the truck. “We are Free Syrian Army! We are Free Syrian Army! I am a commander with the Free Syrian Army.”

We were traveling in rebel territory. Government forces weren’t supposed to be here.

“Oh, you’re Free Syrian Army?” one of the gunmen answered. “Here’s to your Free Syrian Army.” He kicked Abdelrazaq in the face, then smashed a rifle butt into his back.

The gunman seemed to be in charge of the others. We would learn that his name was Abu Jaafar. He spoke with a thick Alawite accent.

Alawites are a sect of Shiite Muslims, and for 4 decades Alawites and Shiites have ruled over the rest of Syria.

Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite. But Alawites and Shiites are only around 10 percent of the population. Almost all of the rest—and all of the rebels—are Sunni Muslims.

This is a sectarian war. So are most of the conflicts these days in the old Ottoman provinces of the Middle East. We’d become part of a long fight that wasn’t ours.

“Do you love Bashar?,” Abu Jaafar asked.

“Of course I love President Bashar,” Abdelrazaq replied.

“You don’t even deserve to utter his name, you animal,” Abu Jaafar said. Once again he kicked Abdelrazaq and beat him with his rifle butt.

“We are journalists from American television,” I said in En­glish.

One of the gunmen grabbed me by the hair and smashed my head against the metal wall of the container. “Who are you?” he asked in Arabic. I pretended not to understand.

“We are journalists. We work for American television,” I said again.

Everyone was in the truck by now. The metal floor smelled of diesel fuel and machine oil and was very cold and slippery. I kept sliding down as I sat with knees at my chest and my back to the container wall. I was watching Abu Jaafar beat the commander.

Several of the gunmen closed the doors to the container and stayed with us inside. They turned on flashlights. They were prepared.

Two of them lifted me to my feet and wrapped duct tape around my mouth, eyes, and wrists. They stripped off my belt and shoes. They did the same to the rest of the group. Now blind, I felt hands reaching into my pockets and taking my phone and my passport.

They’ve done this before.

I didn’t have much else on me. I had deliberately left my main mobile phone in Turkey.

I’d cleaned my laptop, too, removing files and contacts that could be incriminating to a suspicious mind. We had each pared down before coming in. Kidnapping is always a threat in this life of reporting on men hurting one another because of religion and politics.

An Israeli business card left in a wallet could be a death sentence. I knew that many of the shabiha gunmen would assume we were spies anyway—conspiracy theories are a weed in this part of the world.

An Egyptian newspaper once publicly identified me as the C.I.A. station chief in Cairo. It seemed so stupid at the time. I was only 24, a little young to be a station chief, and, of course, I was never with the C.I.A.

The truck started up and eased out of the grove. We could feel it traveling over bumpy roads.

I’ve reported on Shiite militias butchering Sunnis, and on Sunnis bombing Shiites in Iraq. I still felt like a reporter. I was still on a story. This was sectarian violence. This wasn’t happening to me but to them. I was angry with myself for thinking that.

Stay focused. You are here. You need to survive this. The first few hours are the most dangerous.

The truck came to a stop about 20 minutes later. Metal scraped against metal as the rear doors creaked open. Light and cold air rushed in.

“Where is the gunman?,” Abu Jaafar asked.

“That’s me, sir,” said the young man in the green fatigues. Abdelrazaq’s bodyguard could not have been more than 20.

Abu Jaafar’s men took the bodyguard out of the truck.

“Finish him,” Abu Jaafar said.

The gunmen had their AK-47s set on burst. They each fired four or five rapid shots, paused, then squeezed off another burst. The bodyguard didn’t scream or utter a word. He died too quickly for that. I heard his body hit the ground.

Abdelrazaq started to shout at Abu Jaafar.

“These people are journalists. They have nothing to do with this. I brought them here. I am responsible. Kill me. Let them go.”

Abu Jaafar said, “Get the gasoline.”

They drenched Abdelrazaq with liquid from a bottle.

“No, no!” Abdelrazaq begged.

“Burn him,” Abu Jaafar said.

They splashed Abdelrazaq with more liquid.

It was water.

They wanted to break us and terrorize us and make us docile. They were having fun doing it.

Abu Jaafar was laughing most of the time. In the coming days we would become familiar with his short, repetitive, girlish laugh: Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.

The doors of the container were closed again. The gunmen left us alone in the back of the truck. We could hear guns being charged outside. AK-47 rounds were chambered and ready to fire.

Now they’ll spray the truck with gunfire and execute us all. 

We all lay down in the truck, hoping they’d shoot over us. My face was pressed against the floor. I tucked my hands under my cheek to get it off the cold, greasy metal. I drifted off to sleep. There’s peace in sleep. Aziz was lying on top of me. I could feel his heat. He was wearing cologne and it smelled good. In sleep I could escape.

Am I sleeping or am I awake? I’ll pretend to stay sleeping. Sleeping is invisible.

To read Engel’s full diary, click here to subscribe and receive the issue.

WHY NBC had to Alters Account of Correspondent’s Kidnapping in Syria?

NBC News on Wednesday revised its account of the 2012 kidnapping of its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, saying it was likely that Mr. Engel and his reporting team had been abducted by a Sunni militant group, not forces affiliated with the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

In a statement posted on the NBC News website Wednesday evening, Mr. Engel said that a review of the episode — prompted by reporting from The New York Times — had led him to conclude that “the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia.” He also wrote that the abductors had “put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite shabiha militiamen.”

Mr. Engel and his team were kidnapped in December 2012 while reporting in Syria. They were held for five days. Just hours after emerging, they appeared on the “Today” show.

“This was a group known as the shabiha, this was the government militia, these are people who are loyal to President Bashar al-Assad,” Mr. Engel said on “Today,” citing information he had gathered from the group.

In that and other appearances on NBC, and in a Vanity Fair magazine article, he said that he had been rescued by Sunni rebels. At least two people died during the course of the captivity, he said in some versions of the account.

Interviews by The Times with several dozen people — including many of those involved in the search for NBC’s team, rebel fighters and activists in Syria and current and former NBC News employees — suggested that Mr. Engel’s team was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.

The group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes.

The kidnapping ended, the people involved in the search said, when the team was freed by another rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, which had a relationship with Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj.

Mr. Engel and his team underwent a harrowing ordeal, and it is a common tactic for kidnappers in war zones to intentionally mislead hostages as to their identity.

NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.

An NBC News spokesman said the network would have no comment beyond the statement posted on its site. Vanity Fair said it had no immediate comment.

Just two months ago, NBC News suspended Brian Williams, its nightly news anchor, after he exaggerated an account of a helicopter episode in Iraq in 2003. The furor that surrounded Mr. Williams’s suspension led to a management shake-up in the news division, and the installation of Andrew Lack, a former NBC News president, as head of the operation.

NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort. NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.

NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release. These three people declined to be identified, citing safety considerations.

Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, “Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.”

Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

Abu Hassan, a local medic who is close to the rebel movement, and who was involved in seeking the team’s release, said that when the kidnappers realized that all the other rebels in the area were working to get the captives out, they decided to create a ruse to free them and blame the kidnapping on the Assad regime. “It was there that the play was completed,” he said, speaking of the section of road Mr. Engel and the team were freed on.

Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release “we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.” He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.

Mr. Engel, in his statement, said he did not have a “definitive account of what happened that night.” He acknowledged the group that freed him had ties to his captors, but said he had received conflicting information.

“We managed to reach a man, who, according to both Syrian and U.S. intelligence sources, was one of Abu Ayman’s main fund-raisers,” he wrote. “He insists that Abu Ayman’s men shot and killed two of our kidnappers.”

Mr. Engel said the kidnapping “became a sensitive issue” for Mr. Ayman. “Abu Ayman and his superiors were hoping to persuade the U.S. to provide arms to them,” he wrote. “Having American journalists taken on what was known to be his turf could block that possibility.”

In his Vanity Fair article, Mr. Engel described one of his captors lying dead. In his statement Wednesday, he acknowledged that he did not see bodies during the rescue.

He said that one of his producers, Aziz Akyavas, climbed out of the van through the driver-side door, stepping over a body. “I climbed out of the passenger-side door,” he wrote.

“A bearded gunman approached and said that we were safe now. That was our introduction to Abu Ayman. He said that he and his men had killed the two kidnappers. Under the circumstances, and especially since Aziz said that he had seen and stepped over a body, I didn’t doubt it and later reported it as fact.”

Another “Red Line” for the desolate people in the Middle-East?
Chemical attacks in Syria?
And it turned out that the chemical gas was fluoride?
US considering a military response? Supported by the French President Holland without the backing of the parliament and people?
What? France has no idea of what to do with its soldiers returning from Mali and western Africa?
France of Holland was fighting Jihadist terrorists in Mali, the same kinds of terrorists it wants to defend in Syria?
A fresh war territory is to be created to amuse the French generals and testing new aircrafts and missiles…?

The desolate people in the Middle-East (ME) have no strong relations with any superpower, just clients for useless preconditions attached to weapons exported at ludicrous price tags….

Even Russia has much stronger relations with Israel than Syria and Egypt combined, and even at the peak of the Soviet Union alignment…

The Soviet Union was the first superpower to recognize Israel State at the UN, and expected Israel to become the first Communist State in the ME…

The Zionist Lobby in current Russia is by far more dynamic and influential than all the “non-existent” Arabic lobbies in Russia…

And Israel bombed Syria 3 time this year, with Putin green lights.

No, no one is coming to the rescue of the desolate people in the ME and North Africa: The only aid is military strikes to humiliate the people even further… into total submission to the eternal colonial powers

The editorials in the US dailies are not meant to educate and inform the US citizens on the problems of the people in the ME: The role of the editorials is to warn the US citizens of the recurring decisions of the US government for impending military strikes on the desolate people in the ME

Obama weighs possible military response after Syria chemical attack?

Oliver Holmes and Roberta Rampton published in Reuters this August 24, 2013

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama considered options on Saturday for a possible military strike on Syria in response to a nerve gas attack that killed hundreds as Syria sought to avert blame by saying its soldiers had found chemical weapons in rebel tunnels.

A senior U.N. official arrived in Damascus to seek access for inspectors to the site of last Wednesday’s attack, in which opposition accounts say between 500 and well over 1,000 civilians were killed by gas fired by pro-government forces.

In the most authoritative account so far, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said 3 hospitals near Damascus had reported 355 deaths in the space of three hours out of about 3,600 admissions with nerve gas-type symptoms.

The accounts and video footage of the victims – men, women and children – have heightened Western calls for a robust, U.S.-led response after 2-1/2 years of international inaction on a conflict that has killed 100,000 people.

U.S. military and national security advisers met Obama at the White House on Saturday to consider options for a response, the day after Washington said it was realigning forces in the Mediterranean to give him the option of attacking Syria.

Obama, long hesitant to intervene, said in a CNN interview broadcast on Friday that the United States was still gathering information about the attack.

He noted, however, that chemicals weapon use on a large scale would start “getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region“.

In a development that could raise pressure on him to act, American and European security sources said U.S. and allied intelligence agencies had made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons had been used by pro-Assad forces this week.

MILITARY OPTIONS

Among the military options under consideration are missile strikes on Syrian units believed to be responsible for chemical attacks or on Assad’s air force and ballistic missile sites, U.S. officials said. Such strikes could be launched from U.S. ships or from combat aircraft capable of firing missiles from outside Syrian airspace, thereby avoiding Syrian air defenses.

Major world powers – including Russia, Assad’s main ally which has long blocked U.N.-sponsored intervention against him – have urged the Syrian leader to cooperate with U.N. chemical weapons inspectors already in Damascus to pursue earlier allegations.

Syria accuses rebels of staging the attack to provoke intervention. State television said soldiers had found chemical weapons on Saturday in tunnels that had been used by rebels.

A presenter said 5 blue and green plastic storage drums shown in video footage, along with rusty mortar bombs, grenades, domestic gas canisters and vials labeled “atropine“, a nerve gas antidote, were proof that rebels had used chemical weapons.

Separately, the state news agency SANA said soldiers had “suffered from cases of suffocation” when rebels used poison gas “as a last resort” after government forces made “big gains” against them in the Damascus suburb of Jobar.

It said clashes were still raging in the area but that the army had advanced and found “chemical agents” in rebel tunnels.

The leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, and the head of the rebel Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idriss, denied on Saturday that rebels had used chemical weapons.

At a press conference in Istanbul, Idriss said the rebels would respond, but not with “similar crimes”.

Jabra said the “most important cause” of the attack was the silence and inaction of the international community, especially the West.

A scheduled August 25-27 conference of military chiefs of the United States, Jordan, its main Western allies and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, intended to help contain the fallout of a war spilling beyond Syria’s borders, has been given added urgency by the gas attack.

WAITING FOR OBAMA

“We had been expecting to talk mainly about stabilizing Jordan,” said a European defense source. “Instead, it will be dominated by Syria. It’s all really waiting on the Americans and what they decide they want to do …

“There have been discussions, but so far they have been very inconclusive. As the scale of what happened in Damascus becomes clear, that may change.”

U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane arrived in Damascus to press for access to the scene.

“The solution is obvious. There is a United Nations team on the ground, just a few kilometers away. It must very quickly be allowed to go to the site to carry out the necessary tests without hindrance,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said during a visit to the Palestinian territories.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Berlin expected Russia to “raise the pressure on Damascus so that the inspectors can independently investigate”.

While some of the United States’ NATO allies, including France, Britain and Turkey, have explicitly blamed Assad’s forces for the chemical attack, Russia said the rebels were impeding an inquiry and that Assad would have no interest in using poison gas for fear of foreign intervention.

“Assad does not look suicidal,” senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker Igor Morozov told Interfax news agency. “He well understands that in this case, allies would turn away from him and … opponents would rise. All moral constraints would be discarded regarding outside interference.”

Alexei Pushkov, pro-Kremlin chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, said: “In London they are ‘convinced’ that Assad used chemical weapons, and earlier they were ‘convinced’ that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It’s the same old story.”

Russia said last month that its analysis indicated a projectile that hit the city of Aleppo on March 19 contained the nerve agent sarin and was most likely fired by rebels.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Assad’s most powerful Middle Eastern ally, acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that chemical weapons had killed people in Syria and called for the international community to prevent their use.

(Additional reporting by Megan Davies in Moscow, John Irish in Paris, Madeline Chambers in Berlin, Yeganeh Torbati in Dubai, Asli Kandemir and Dasha Afanasieva in Istanbul and Washington bureau; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Note 1:

President Barack Obama said, "The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war." </p><br /><br /><br />
<p>I guess this doesn't apply to the Israeli's. </p><br /><br /><br />
<p>GOD BLESS HYPOCRISY!
Shared by Ryan Ghandour
Phosphorous munitions is also banned by 98% of the world communities, except the 5 superpowers and Israel refused to sign on.
President Barack Obama said,
“The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world’s population said the use… of chemical weapons are inadmissible and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war.”
Can we deduce that world conventions in periods of war do Not apply to Israeli? Political HYPOCRISY at its best application?

Note 2: I am under the impression that the Syrian army was hitting Jorba and the nerve gas stored in tunnels by the rebels detonated. Probably the Syrian government knew about the Saudi Arabia intelligence services shipping chemical gas to the rebels and wanted the world community to take notice of this escalation.  The US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and France are trying to throw smokescreens and defuse the responsibility toward the Syrian regime.

Note 3JP Chevenement wrote:

“With respect to the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons signed at Paris on 13 January 1993… Syria and Egypt were Not among the signatories. Why?

The Egyptian negotiator Amr Moussa explained that his country would adhere to this convention when weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, bacteriological and chemical would have eliminated the Middle East…

The NPT Review Conference [2] may 2010 aims to create a nuclear-free Middle East.

It is in this general framework that should be taken to preserve the balance of security in this region. ”

JP Chevenement

Chemical attacks in Syria? Is it a matter of point of view or point of attack?

It seems that not many people are sure that hundreds in Syrians were target of chemical attacks.

Photos show the dead and injured, and videos are backing claims of mass murder events.

Is it a point of view or point of attack that are blurring the lines between reality and fiction?

I decided to posts two articles, representing the pro-Syrian government media and another voicing the opinion of the “insurgents”

Syria: Chemical Attack in Ghouta “an Accident Caused by Free Syrian Army”

  published this August 21, 2013:

The attack that killed over 200 people in the Damascus suburbs could be an accident caused by a riot control agent, and those responsible may be a faction of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and not the Assad regime, according to a chemical weapons specialist.

Syrian opposition activists claim that rockets loaded with toxic agents were launched towards the suburbs of the Ghouta region at 3 am, killing more than 570 people, mostly women and children. Horrific footage of people being treated in makeshift hospitals and many children suffocating, having convulsions or laying immobile emerged on social media.

Gwyn Winfield, editorial director at CBRNe World, a magazine specializing in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, told IBTimes UK that it is difficult to identify an agent by the signs and symptoms alone.

image
“We can say there is some form of chemical used. But until we take blood samples, samples of the soil and the water in the area we can’t say that a chemical agent has been used,” he said.

“It can be a riot control agent, like in the recent Egyptian case of the tear gas used in the back of a van that killed 36 prisoners. We have the same symptoms in the children and casualties.”

Symptoms of those hit by the attack include nausea, hallucinations, suffocation, hard coughing, high blood pressure, seizures and a post-death gargle, according to Syrian blogger Enas, from Amman in Jordan.

In response to the initial reports, the Syrian government has denied that chemical weapons were used.

Winfield said he finds it “suspicious” that in the week UN inspectors enter the country with the acquiescence of Assad, the Government welcomes them with a chemical weapons missile barrage.

“It is not impossible that some faction in the Free Syrian Army did it to get attention, or maybe it was an accident by an inexperienced operator who may have not realized what he was doing.”

The security expert said there are numerous cases of riot agent used in a lethal way, for example in confined spaces and not to disperse a crowd.

He added that the idea that the FSA is single and unified is “a myth,” because “there are different factions and something like that could be a win/win for them: launch the attack and raise amount of profile of their cause by the UN.”

Winfield said that more than 570 victims, if confirmed, are a lot of people in a not densely populated area. “It means the attack targeted a large area and it is not an isolated incident. If there are 570 fatalities it would suggest that evidence of what it is will not be hard to find.”

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer at the UK’s Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, told the BBC’s Today program that the footage was “horrific” and agreed that it would be “very difficult to stage-manage”.

The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he is “concerned” by reports of a chemical attack…

The Revolting Syrian posted:

Aug 21, 2013 – At approximately 3:00 am in Damascus, a year to the day after Obama’s infamous “red line” speech warning Assad about using chemical weapons, and as a specialized UN inspection team sleep in their hotels in Damascus, ostensibly there to investigate a CW attack 6 months ago, Assad launched his largest, most wide scale and most deadly attack using chemical weapons on the Damascus suburbs of Zamallaka and Ein Turma in the Eastern Ghouta area.

The fallout from the attack was also felt in many of the surrounding districts.

Preliminary reports are that close to 600 people have been killed so far with thousands more injured from the effects of the gas which some are claiming, based on the symptoms seen, to be “weaponized cyanide

In two days, you and the rest of the world will forget about this massacre the same way you forgot about the rest that have happened over the last 2+ years in Syria.
image
We Syrians however, will never forget. Not the martyrs and not the way the rest of the world sat by and watched this happen to us.
A morbid list of at least 75 videos from today’s attack compiled by @Brown_Moses here
A comprehensive list and description of the attacks by @RSyrianCivilWar here

Note 1: Many countries are producing modified tear gas agents, far more potent to disperse mass demonstrators and deadly in many cases.  The tear gas have killed many in Egypt, Turkey, Palestine and Tunisia, Pakistan, Thailand…

Note 2: In these bad times, it is highly plausible that dark forces have switched, tampered, or transposed canisters with lethal gases. And nobody is about to admit that he was fooled, had, or did the dirty operation…

Note 3: A plausible alternative was that the Syrian army bombed the town of Jerba and hit nerve gas reserves stored by the rebels in tunnels… Apparently, antidote nerve gas were discovered in the tunnels…

In Picture, Syria in Ruin? Who is pleased by a country in ruin?

While much of the world’s attention focuses on a possible war with North Korea, the war currently being fought in Syria grinds on. March of 2013 was a month of grim milestones in Syria. It marked two years since the start of hostilities; the number of war refugees passed one million; and it was was the bloodiest month to date, with more than 6,000 people killed.

Neither the pro-Assad forces, nor the group of rebels opposing them have gained much ground recently, and little or no progress has been made by international agencies to halt the bloodshed.

Alan Taylor in Focus posted pictures of Syria in Ruin:

The following photographs come from across Syria, taken over the past six weeks,  showing just some of the devastation in Aleppo, Deir al-Zor, Homs, Deraa, Idlib, and Damascus. [38 photos]

Use j/k keys or ←/→ to navigate  Choose: 1024px 1280px

A member of the Free Syrian Army sits on a sofa in the middle of a debris-strewn street in Deir al-Zor, Syria, on April 2, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi)

Damaged buildings in Jouret al-Shayah, Homs, Syria, on February 2, 2013. (Reuters/Yazen Homsy) #

People walking down a street are pictured through a hole in a building in Deir al-Zor, on April 4, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

A Syrian opposition fighter rubs dust from his face in the Jabilleh neighborhood of the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, during clashes with regime forces as they try to retake the area on February 16, 2013. (Zac Baillie/AFP/Getty Images) #

A resident inspects the damages at an ancient Souk caused by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor, on March 9, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

A woman wearing a scarf depicting the Syrian opposition flag walks in the damaged areas in Deir al-Zor, on March 3, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

A group of Syrian Free Army activists inspect a damaged mosque at the Sheikh Yassine district area in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, on February 16, 2013.(Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

People walk on a street lined with buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Deir Al-Zor, on March 12, 2013. (Reuters/Muhammad Younis/Shaam News Network) #

A burning tank is in Daraa, on March 9, 2013. (Reuters/Ali Abu-Salah/Shaam News Network) #

People inspect damaged areas in Deir al-Zor, on March 3, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

A Syrian street vendor who sells cigarette boxes, sits in front of destroyed shops which were damaged by the shelling of the Syrian forces, at Maarat al-Nuaman town, in Idlib province, on February 26, 2013. Syrian rebels battled government troops near a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday, while fierce clashes raged around a police academy west of the city, activists said. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) #

Vehicles burn near a crater on a road after an explosion in central Damascus, on February 21, 2013. Syrian state media blamed what it said was a suicide bombing on “terrorists” battling President Bashar al-Assad. (Reuters/SANA) #

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, injured Syrians sit on the ground while flames and smoke rise from burned cars after a huge explosion that shook Damascus, on February 21, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA) #

A view of a damaged building in Houla, near Homs, on March 14, 2013. (Reuters/Maysara Al-Masri/Shaam News Network) #

A boy holds a bicycle near debris and damaged buildings in Homs, on March 25, 2013. (Reuters/Yazan Homsy) #

Destroyed buildings and streets filled with debris in Homs, on February 19, 2013. (Reuters/Khaled Tellawi/Shaam News Network) #

Damaged cars are piled up, used as cover from snipers in the Khaldiyeh area of Homs, on February 19, 2013. (Reuters/ Yazan Homsy) #

A boy takes a picture of his friend who gestures from the top of a damaged building in Deir al-Zor, on April 4, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

A mirror stands inside an old damaged house in Homs, on March 16, 2013. (Reuters/Yazen Homsy) #

Destroyed buildings along streets filled with debris in Homs, on February 19, 2013. (Reuters/Khaled Tellawi/Shaam News Network) #

A view of damaged buildings on Abu al-Hol street, Homs, on February 2, 2013. (Reuters/Yazen Homsy) #

(1 of 3) Nihal, 9, in the entrance of an underground Roman tomb used as shelter from Syrian government forces shelling and airstrikes, at Jabal al-Zaweya, in Idlib province,on February 28, 2013. Across northern Syria, rebels, soldiers, and civilians are making use of the country’s wealth of ancient and medieval antiquities to protect themselves from Syria’s two-year-old war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) #

(2 of 3) Sami (center) speaks with his children in an underground Roman tomb which he uses with his family as shelter from Syrian government forces, at Jabal al-Zaweya, in Idlib province, on February 28, 2013. The ancient sites are built of thick stone that has already withstood centuries, and are often located in strategic locations overlooking towns and roads. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) #

(3 of 3) Sobhi al-Hamod, 60, lives with his family in an underground cave used for shelter from Syrian government forces in Idlib province, on February 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) #

A painting of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad riddled with bullet holes, on the facade of the police academy in Aleppo, after it was captured by Free Syrian Army fighters, on March 4, 2013. (Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano) #

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at a factory after what activists say was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad at al-Haidariah area in Aleppo, on February 8, 2013. (Reuters/Malek AlShemali) #

An excavator is used to search for casualties under the rubble at a site hit by what activists said was a Scud missile in Aleppo’s Ard al-Hamra neighborhood, on February 23, 2013. Rockets struck eastern districts of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, killing at least 29 people and trapping a family of 10 in the ruins of their home, activists in the city said. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman) #

A damaged car in rubble in Al-Ansari neighborhood after what activists said was a missile attack by Syrian Air Forces in Aleppo, on February 3, 2013. (Reuters/Aaref Hretani) #

Inside a damaged mosque in Aleppo, on March 10, 2013. (Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano) #

A Syrian woman sits on the ruins of her house, which was destroyed in an airstrike by government warplanes a few days earlier, killing 11 members of her family, in the neighborhood of Ansari, Aleppo, on February 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Abdullah al-Yassin) #

The wreckage of a helicopter, belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, near Menagh military airport in Aleppo, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano) #

Burned and damaged buildings in the Sheikh Maksoud area of Aleppo, on April 3, 2013. (Reuters/George Ourfalian) #

Damaged buildings, after air force shelling in the Karam Al-Tarrab neighborhood near Aleppo International Airport, on February 15, 2013. (Reuters/Malek Al Shemali) #

A Syrian rebel takes position behind a makeshift barricade during clashes with regime forces in the Salaheddine district of Aleppo, on March 16, 2013. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) #

In this Tuesday March 19, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rises from buildings due to government forces shelling, in Aleppo. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC) #

Damaged buildings in the Jdeideh district of Aleppo, on February 20, 2013. (Reuters/George Ourfalian) #

A Syrian man fumigates a street covered with uncollected garbage in the northern city of Aleppo, on March 24, 2013. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #

A child stands on the remnants of a destroyed military vehicle in front of a damaged building in Al Inzarat district of Aleppo, on February 17, 2013. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #

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