The event of using chemical weapons in the countryside of Damascus

1. Regional and local situation
2. Details of what happened in 21.08.2013 night
3. Eyewitness testimonies
4. Connotations and messages
5. Appendix A: Cases of using chemical weapon in Damascus countryside
1. Regional and local situation:
Regardless of the tensioned case of Palestine, and the critical situation of Iraq, when The Arab Spring started in the beginning of 2011, it aimed first to liberate the will of people from the domination of the ruling regimes. However, after that, things gone in another way , like what happened in the Egyptian case  after the massacre of Rabia in 14th of August which is still evaluating, and the Lebanon turmoil with the spread of explosions between Suburb and Beirut and Sidon. The last of those were two explosions occurred in a mosque in Tripoli during Friday prayers; resulting in a number of casualties between wounded and dead people.
In Syria , the regime brutality and disregard for civilians escalated , and with the progress the Free Syrian Army achieved in his clashes against Assad forces , and the beginning of the battle of the coast , At the beginning of August . Free Syrian Army was able to control many villages and areas in the coast, which mean moving the war to Assad Regime field, the regime's ferocity increased to defend his areas.
The extension of the coast's battle, regarding the violent events in the neighbor countries suddenly was followed by a new event in the Global Media Square, when Assad's regime used the chemical weapon in the 21st of August in the countryside of Damascus.
The areas targeted by the chemical weapon :
The Syrian areas which was targeted by the poison gases is located in Damascus countryside: Zamalka , Ein Tarma ,and  Al-Muadamiyyeh
Here is some general information about these areas:
- Zamalka : 
Zamalka is a small town following Duma in Damascus countryside; it is located at a distance of about 10 kilometers east. It is considered as a part of Eastern Ghota. Zamalka’s population is 44.660; the town participated in the revolution against Bashar Assad from the beginning. And because of that, it was subjected to military incursions many times. In the 30th of June 2012 a massacre occurred in Zamalka which resulted in 80 victims and hundreds of injuries.



Ein Tarma : 
A town Located on the northern bank of the river Barada , administratively following  Irbeen area in Damascus Countryside. The population in 2009 was 40,015; but now it does not exceed 10 thousand people. 
digenous population does not exceed 20%. Most of inhabitance of Joubar neighborhood fled to Ein Tarma because of the closeness between them, the area targeted by the chemical gases was the area which the inhabitants of Jobar are located. Ein Tarma is considered to be one of the first towns freed from the barriers, even before Duma.

- Al-Muadamiyyeh: 

A Syrian city, administratively following Darayya, in the countryside of Damascus, located west of the city of Damascus by several kilometers. It is close to Darayya city and Mazzeh neighborhood, and it is a center township, also one of the most fundamental cities in the western Ghota. The population is 70.000, Al-Muadamiyyeh had an important role during the revolution, it was subjected to a heavy shelling lots of times , and it was besieged, it was also center for more than a massacre ,  above the city , the mountains of  the forth brigade which to be considered as the fundamental center which Bombards the city.
2. Details of what happened in 21.08.2013 night:
At 1:40 a.m, some inhabitants of the eastern Ghota woke up on a heavy shelling's voices, but hundreds of the inhabitants of Zamalka and Ein Tarma didn’t; they died choked in their beds by the chemical gases.
 Assad's regime targeted a field near Al-Taqwa mosque in the axis Ein Tarma – Zamalka – Hizza , this area happen to be an inhabited heavily, it was targeted by a twelve missile, But their heads loaded with deadly chemical gases fired from the 155 brigade , which resulted in the immediate death of hundreds at the spot, the injuries decreases as the distance from that spot increase , the appeals spread by the speakers of the mosques of Eastern Ghota calling for emergency ,the alternates doctors in the medical points summoned the cadres , the paramedics , and the activists to save what can be saved , since the Protective suits and masks not available; lots of them died Affected by the gas due to their contact with the injured people.
Victims’ bodies and Injured people kept coming to the medical points in Eastern Ghota, the paramedics used vinegar, Carbonated water and mineral water as a basic treatment, the injuries and the paramedics were sprinkled by water, they also used Atropine Syringes, which is considered to be the treatment of Sarin. However, because of the huge lack in the Medical warehouses points , and the great amount of casualties ; doctors had to use expired ampoules, they also used some ampoules which are dedicated to animals, and some drugs which could mitigate the injuries , like the type of " Dicksa" for example , which is not as good as atropine.
The clinical panel for the infected as the Unified Medical Office in the Eastern Ghota describes it: respiratory problems in various grades, secrete Foam instinct mucous from the mouth and the nose, descriptive Generalized convulsions, Commotion, Pallor, Diaphoresis, Mental confusion, Debussy pupil, and a glow in the body especially the upper part, these symptoms are indicative the condition of poisoning by organic phosphorus compounds.
According to the Unified Medical Office , the injuries after the first six hours after the strike had reached about ten thousand injuries , three thousands of them were in a dangerous case , and the killings which were documented in the medical points in Eastern Ghota reached 1466 victims , 67 % of them were women and children, Due to their vulnerability compared with adult men , regarding that some cases still declining the medical points , "Due to recycling of the poisoning material in the patient's body as a physiological mechanism satisfactory" as the Medical Office describe. 
As for Western Ghota , which was targeted in the same day by chemicals too , Al-Muadamiyyeh was targeted by four missiles loaded with chemical warheads fell near Al-Rawdah Mosque during the dawn prayers  at 5:00 a.m.; which led to the flock of hundreds of casualties suffering suffocation cases to the medical point in the area, and the death of tens including women and children , and as usual , because of the heavy siege , lots of injured people died because of the lack of medical materials and injections . 
The Medical Office in Muadamiyyeh was able to document 64 victims choked by chemicals, followed by 39 victims died due to the Airstrike targeted the area, along with heavy shelling from the mountains of the forth squad and Mazzeh Military Airport. During the shelling, Assad's forces tried to storm into the area, and the clashes with Free Syrian Army at the outskirts of the area endured for 3 days, this exhausted the people of the area, increased their moral wounds, and their body injuries.
It is important to mention that a mission of international observers consisting 20 chemical experts was sent by UN to investigate the use of the internationally prohibited chemical weapon in the Syrian conflict after long Negotiations with Assad's government. This mission reached Damascus two days before the use of chemical weapon in the Eastern and Western Ghota, the experts were still in the hotel when the attacks implemented. Assad's regime was challenging the international world.
3. Eyewitness Testimonies:
- The First Testimony
Name: Bara'a Al-Shami
Age: 29
Revolutionary activities: he is a media activist from Qaboun.
Location when the chemical attacks started: Mleha
Time and Date of the massacre: 21\08\2013 at 1:40 a.m.
Event details according to his testimony:
I was in Mleha at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, we heard callings through the wireless that the regime attacked Zamalka,  Ein Tarma, Hizza axis by chemicals and that the people need Water tanks and cars heading to the event spot , my friend and I went through his small car to the area targeted by chemicals , some guys prevented us from getting in and asked us to move to "Alhajja" hospital in Ein-Tarma , which became a field hospital, the bodies and injuries were inflowing heavily to the medical center , and Sounds of screaming and howling and wailing are everywhere , there were no places left for the bodies , so they were thrown on the ground next to the medical center , I met by accident a friend working in Zamalka coordinating media , his eyes were effected by chemicals  , still , he was filming to document the real terrible massacre , at that time , we heard callings that the Paramedics are dying because of the chemicals , therefore each paramedic should take an injection to be protected . Each paramedic was sprinkled by lots of water from water tanks to Activates. After the paramedics' deaths calls, another calls were heard "loss of control in the medical points in Ein-Tarma and Zamalka " which mean these points were full , and there is a lack in medicines , equipment , and paramedics . We started moving injured people to the rest of the Eastern Ghota Sequentially, we were cumulating the wounded in cars and moving them to the medical points in Sakba , Erbin , and Hamouriye.
As for me, I rode my friend's car, and we joined in moving the injured people to medical points, while some guys were breaking the houses doors to save who still alive inside. On our way the streets were full of bodies, all the animals were killed too. In Ein-Tarma I saw a big tree and under it the ground was full of dead birds which used to live there.
I have been injured previously by bombing fragments, so my health didn’t help me carry or succor anyone. However I was filming using my friend's camera, because the situation makes you want to interfere and help, and save what can be saved.
If those Missiles were bombed targeting different areas in the Eastern Ghota, no one of the inhabitants would be alive to help the others, and you would not be talking to me now.
I could not stand what I saw; I started crying because of the situation – before I got injured – whole families were exterminated! And there were sleeping children who never woke up again.
Assad's forces started heavy attacks at the Eastern Ghota once the sun raised, he launched two airstrikes at Zamalka, the shelling got heavier by mortar and rocket launchers in the surrounding areas, at this time all the guys in the area were trying to sweep the houses, and try to extract the choked bodies in it. 
While I was in the car my health weakened , and my eyes were effected by chemicals,  I took an Atropine injection when I reached the medical point and they washed my face with Mineral water and carbonated water, then I got rid of my clothes, returned to Mleha because my condition didn’t allow me to stay.
It was about 8:00 a.m., I slept for few hours, when I woke up my friends gave me clean identity card for a young man who is similar to me , and they were able to get me out of the area, and move me to Qalamoun until I recover.  In Qalamoun, the Symptoms continued to appear in my body, eyes burning remained for two days, along with an annoying itching in my body, I took a shower almost 20 times until I started to recover, thanks to God.
- The second testimony:
Name: Abu Oday
Age: 23
Revolutionary Activities: media activist with "Bara'a" brigade working in Zamalka.
 Location when the chemical attacks started: Zamalka
Time and Date of the massacre: 21\08\2013 at 2:20 a.m.
Event details according to his testimony:
"The attack was at about 1:45 a.m., and as I remember, a field next to Al-Taqwa mosque was shelled with 8 missiles loaded with chemicals, the axes Zamalka, Ein Tarma, and Hazza, exactly as the Operations Center located it for us, my office is only 100 meters away from the area where these missiles landed. 
I was in the brigade office doing nothing, was surprised when I heard from the wireless  that we are getting bombed by chemicals and they are in a great need of all the paramedics. I made a big mistake when I opened the window to make sure that the chemicals were used. I didn’t smell anything , but after two minutes I started feeling tightness in my chest, then I suffered to take a breath, after only 5 minutes, I started vomiting, I couldn’t see clearly , I felt weakness in my body, I tried to stand still, so I can go to the attacked area and save what can be saved, I was faltering in the way, once I reached the attack area I fell to the ground and couldn’t move my body, I was aware of what is happening around me – although it was hard – then some guys came and helped me then took me to the Tuberculosis's medical point in Kafarbatna.
It was an Indescribable situation, the ground was full by hundreds of bodies, and the smell of the place was vomiting, spume and vinegar.
My face was washed by Carbonated water and vinegar , then I went out to the street because I couldn't stand staying inside, I lied down until 5:00 a.m., after that I went to Zamalka in a car to help, because I was feeling better. However I couldn’t, so I rested in a guarding point for almost two hours, my health was worsening again, I was vomiting a green bitter material, so I asked the guards to take me to a different medical point, they took me to the medical point "Lewaona" in Jisreen, but I couldn’t get in because it was full of bodies and injured people, I rested in a near shop, and they gave me an Atropine injection, and then I slept deeply.
In the next day my friends moved me to a farm in the Eastern Ghota where the air is fresh, the vomiting remained for two days every time I eat, the doctor told me that my body is cleaning my Digestive System and that I will recover soon, in the third day I was almost recovered so I went back to Zamalka, and I will never leave it until my soul leave my body.
- The Third Testimony :
Name: Amira
Age: 39
Revolutionary Activities: a medical activist.
 Location when the chemical attacks started: Muadamiyyeh
Time and Date of the massacre: 21\08\2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Event details according to his testimony:
The attack was about 5:00 a.m., the area was targeted by 4 missiles loaded by chemicals, the rubbles of Al-Takwa mosque were hit during the prayer in its cellar due to the destruction of most of its parts, which killed most of those who were praying and some of people who were trying to help them, next to the mosque, group of the Free Syrian Army was staying (belong to Al-Furkan brigade) , most of the members got injured , and 6 of them were killed.
At first I was sleeping when we were bombed ,the window was open , as was the room's door , I woke up suddenly on a strong cough and  shortness of breath, I thought that the breath shortness happened during my sleep, but when the neighbors all woke up in the same condition, I was sure that we were bombed with chemicals, the first thing I did was publishing the news on social networking sites "Muadamiyyeh was bombed by chemicals" , then I went out to the streets heading to the medical point , my health was deteriorating.
People were yelling, women were wailing, we heard callings that the victims’ numbers was increasing rapidly, tens of bodies lying in the streets died before reaching the medical point, and lots of people were warbling “Allah Akbar” (God is the Greatest).
I was able to film some videos, then I uploaded them on YouTube when I got the chance; to give a simple idea about what was happening, the videos links are:
when I reached the medical point I found my brother fainted, and I saw many of my relatives and friends between tens of dead and injured people scattered around, my health was better than theirs, so I decided to help, I removed the polluted clothes of my brother’s body, and with the paramedics help I poured a lot of water on him, then I made a respirator to him, until he became better, after that we moved him to a house next the medical center.
My health deteriorated, and my chest was hurting, I took an Atropine injection, then I laid dawn to rest.
The Field Hospital condition was complicated, it was very bad, the injections were used only to those who had a terrible situation, and we had to use “Dicksa” and “Hydrocortisone” injections.
Many paramedics died trying to save the infected, some of them fell on the bodies they were trying to save, I heard that my brother in law died that way, I also heard that one of my neighbors died, and some friends as well.
After I rested, I went to see my sister – the Martyr's wife –then to some of my relatives to rest assured and to check who survived. After that, I went back to the center to complete my job; the injured people still need a medical care, and some of them still needing it until today.
After hours of hard work, we started gathering the victims and their families to count them and document them to know the volume of the tragedy, at that time a heavy bombing started, Assad’s aircraft began launching airstrikes, until they reached 13 airstrikes on different neighborhoods of the area.
The shelling was from Mazzeh Military Airport and the mountains of the forth squad with different types of heavy weapons, during that Assad's forces tried to storm into the area, so the clashes between them and the Free Syrian Army endured for 3 days, the casualties due to the shelling and clashes kept on coming to the medical center.
We counted 64 victims by chemicals and 39 by the heavy shelling with heavy weapons which occurred after the chemical massacre.  
4. Connotations and messages
It is not the first time to document death cases because of deadly gases, the sum was tens of people died because of these gases, but the deadly gases which targeted the two Ghotas in 21\08\2013 made sum of casualties almost ten thousand or more, more than one thousands of them died, this way Assad scored the highest toll in killing in one day Throughout his reign, escalation of numbers and weapons, is it a feelers to the International Community?
The use of huge amounts of chemicals and Inhalation it by thousand people.
The use of the weapon in two different axes, the same morning.-
- Targeting an inhabited “not military” area, full of emigrants, and the choice of a late timing at night, to ensure more casualties and less medical movement, to redress the disaster.
-Avoiding the locations of the opponent military forces, despite knowing exactly where these locations are.
-The presence of the UN observers in Damascus two days before the attack.
When it happens in such a way and such conditions, we cannot analyze it as a testament to the reactions of the International Community especially that there is no need for this testament anymore since it was tested before.
Regardless of the message Assad regime wanted to send through this crime, the results and reactions of this event resulted in receiving many messages whether they were direct or indirect. We can mention examples of these messages: raise the morale of Assad Supporters and gave them indemnity of their loss from the coast battle at the beginning of August against Assad supporters, at the same time it is a warning message for Assad supporters in case they thought to bypass the military solution and the current sectarian polarization. It is a warning message to the revolutionary people against Assad, to understand that Assad is ready to commit more crimes and disasters and an unlimited criminal escalation, the most remarkable message here is a message for the Free Syrian Army that the anti-armor weapons provides a strong balance of power which is hard to break- these weapons are not always useful in protecting the conflict bases. Finally, the last message was to Turkey and Jordan that Assad is able to target them from a distance.
End of Report
Collecting and Editing:
Badr Al-Deen  Al-Dimashqy
Salih Allouh
5 September 2013
The Syrian center for statistics and research
5. Appendix A
Cases of the use of chemicals in the countryside of Damascus:
Number of victims (about)
The location
The history
 about 400
about 10000
Ein-Tarma, Zamalka , Muadamiyyeh