Details of the horrific gas attacks in densely populated areas of Syria were reportedly removed from the United Nations’ Wednesday investigation into war crimes in the Middle Eastern country.
Seven pages of an earlier draft of the report have been obtained by The New York Times, which wrote Wednesday that the leaked draft pages contain far more frightening details of chemical attacks than the initial report led on.
On multiple occasions, Syrian forces reportedly fired Iranian-made artillery shells filled with a substance similar to chlorine, which oozed poison and immediately harmed victims early one morning in a populated residential area. Witnesses in the report recalled the chlorine-like substance waking them up with just enough time “to rouse the victims, obtain wet cloths to serve as makeshift face masks, and evacuate the affected areas.”
In another attack, Syrian forces allegedly dropped a chemical bomb on an apartment building, killing 49 people, 11 of whom children. The attack caused foaming at the mouth and turned victims’ skin blue. Those who were unable to flee in time collapsed to the ground.
The commission’s report was intended to show how Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his forces recaptured eastern Ghouta in the beginning of 2018. The draft discovered he did so by creating mass starvation, continually dropping bombs in civilian-populated areas and carrying out multiple chemical weapon attacks.
The Syrian forces and their Russian and Iranian allies are responsible for the attacks, the pages allege, a claim Assad has repeatedly denied.
A member of the commission told the Times they condensed these pages because they needed additional confirmation, and wanted to do more investigating. (RELATED: Obama Admits The Red Line He Drew In Syria ‘Was An Imperfect Solution’)
“In one of the most grim patterns of attack documented during the period under review, Government forces and/or affiliated militias continued to use chemical weapons in densely populated civilian areas throughout eastern Ghouta,” a portion of the draft states.
The commission has been investigating similar events involving the Syrian government since the conflict began in 2011.
The final page of the leaked draft charges the Syrian government with war crimes for its use of chemical weapons, saying, “the use of chemical weapons further violated the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic in 2013.”
The Syrian government has used banned chemical weapons as many as 50 times since the civil war started. Syria’s chemical weapons program dates back to the 1970s, with a stockpile including chlorine, mustard gas and sarin, a nerve agent developed by the Nazis that was banned under international law in 1997.
Syria’s use of chemical weapons has been especially prominent in recent years due to former President Barack Obama’s failure to act on his “red line” promise, in which he said he would take action against the Syrian government if it used chemical weapons against its people.
President Donald Trump in 2017 launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield after the Syrian government struck a civilian town with chemical poisons, killing between 50 and 100 people and injuring hundreds of others.
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