Middle East

Syrians hopeless for justice over regime's chemical attacks

Ltamenah town targeted by over 9,000 regime and Russian airstrikes, Syrian activist says

Esref Musa, Burak Karacaoglu and Ahmed Wais   | 15.04.2020
Syrians hopeless for justice over regime's chemical attacks

IDLIB, Syria

A Syrian activist, who witnessed regime’s chemical attacks on Hama province, said hope was last to hold the Assad regime accountable for those attacks in Ltamenah town in March 2017.

Mahmud Hamawi, who has archived the attacks of the Bashar al-Assad regime and his allies since the beginning of the civil war, spoke to Anadolu Agency following a recent report released by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which confirmed that the Assad regime used sarin and chlorine in its airstrike on Ltamenah.

Ltamenah town was targeted by over 9,000 regime and Russian airstrikes, 3,500 of which used barrel bombs, and 18 used chemical weapons, according to Hamawi.

"[On March 25, 2017] Ltamenah hospital was the target of the attacks. Two barrel bombs dropped in front of the hospital. One of them did not explode. The other contained sarin gas. The smell of the gas surrounded the hospital, killing surgeon Ali Darwish and affected more than 20 civilians," Hamawi said.

The activist pointed out that another chemical attack took place on March 30 in southern Ltamenah.

"Helicopters and warplanes of the regime were launching attacks. A SU-22 regime warplane took off from the Shayrat military airport in Homs province and dropped a bomb loaded with sarin gas. In the beginning, only 10-20 people were affected by the attack. Later this number reached 70, and then 100," he said.

The Assad regime, Hamawi said, is still not held accountable. "We presented the evidences and soil samples we gathered, many examples, proofs and videos were sent to concerned authorities."

"Testimonies of eyewitnesses were sent to the OPCW," he said. "Ltamenah people are not hopeful that criminals and murderers will be brought to justice."

"Even the UN Security Council has not even been able to publish a condemnation report on all the massacres against civilians," Hamawi stressed.

Stating that it is very natural for the Assad regime to reject the report of the OPCW, Hamawi asserted that the regime killed more than 1,500 civilians only in Ltamenah, which it denies.

Released on April 8, the OPCW report for the first time blamed the Assad regime for using chemical weapons in Ltamenah.

Investigations were conducted between June 2019 and March 2020, focusing on the incidents in the town on March 24, 25 and 30 of 2017.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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