Eastern Ghouta-Chemical Attack Aftermath

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Seven months after the Sarin gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21st, 2013, some survivors speak out. Estimates of the death toll range between 300 to more than one thousand. The attack was blamed on the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Om Mahmoud – Medic
''This is the road I take everyday for work and on the day of the attack it was really hard to see here, it was all covered in fog. A missile hit over there and another one over here, they were car accidents cause the people couldn’t see anything. There were bodies everywhere; we were basically walking on corpse. We didn’t know what to do; we didn’t expect the chemicals to be dropped in these proportions. We did all we can do to help and save people. I hope we saved lots of lives.''

Name – Profession: Om Mahmoud – Medic
''The strike happened at 2:30 in the morning, 2 passed 10 we saw the missiles in the air. At first we thought it was regular chemical weapons, which will give us 3 or 4 martyrs only, like they always hit us with. Of course no one believes that they’re using chemical weapons on us. We took the people to the roofs, thinking that the chemicals stay on the ground, cause it’s heavy. Then people started calling for everyone to leave Zamalka, I was like, I’m medical staff, I have to stay here. All the way here the road was covered in fog and ambulances. I arrived to this area; there were corpses and car accidents everywhere. Here hit the first shell close to the hospital, and there was a huge amount of martyrs here. We were forced to walk on the corpses so we could save some people. At the end we couldn’t even see the needles that we were supposed to use. We did all we could, to help the children and women. Finally we were hit as well; our nervous system was hit at the hospital. Another shell hit the same area here next to the hospital, and we couldn’t do or feel anything. We couldn’t see or here, our nerves were not functioning. It took me two days to recover, I was one of the first people vomiting blood, and the doctors were surprised. There were other cases too, different ones since there were thousands of people who were hit, and children were hit. It was really horrible; whoever didn’t see this can’t imagine what it was like. There were bodies everywhere, we were taking them and putting them in cars, I was bleeding and vomiting blood. I was affected by the chemical, I feel like I have the flu constantly and I’m experiencing hair loss. I’m affected by the chemical, it’s for good. No one believed us; they think we’re imagining all this. Whatever we say it’s not enough. If we buried the children and elderly, if Buthayna Shaaban and come and see. They think we played them; it’s Bashar al Assad who played us.

Interviewer: What are the after effects of the strike?

Om Mahmoud: Everybody is suffering from depression. There is not a single home that didn’t lose a family member. There are families where only one person is left alive. You see those people have completely lost their minds. I know someone in that situation. You can see him walk down the street and he’s completely disillusioned. His brothers, sisters and parents are all gone. Families as they were sleeing all died. Some bodies were found after several days, once the chemical dispersed from the air. All this is a lesson for us, so we’d know that the regime is corrupt and everyone supports it. They think we’re not from this earth, we’re residents of Mars.

Interviewer: Did you lose anyone?

Om Mahmoud: I didn’t lose anyone from my family but I lost lots of colleagues and friends. In Eastern Ghouta, a lot of people died. At least 6 people from the medical center, where I work, died. Sadly.''

FSA Fighter:
''On the day of the chemical attacks, we were sleeping, so were the civilians. Some of the revolutionaries were on the frontline and at 2:30 in the morning, they hit us with chemical weapons. We felt it and went outside and found people dying so we called for first aid to come and help the people in these towns. Hundreds of people were affected, children, women and men. We were working in aiding people, driving back and forth and getting the affected. Some people died from the shelling as they were being transported, they hit the area with missiles and rockets. They hit us with everything there is and destroyed the buildings and the streets, so that ambulances wouldn’t be able to transport the people. The shelling kept going for three days, with rockets and warplanes, on Zamalka. Thank to God though the army wasn’t able to move forward.

Interviewer: Were any children martyred?

FSA Fighter: Children are dying here because of the chemical attack, and there is around a 1000, 1500 martyrs that were taken from Zamalka.

Interviewer: What are the psychological and other effects?

FSA Fighter: The effect is that you walk around here and not see anyone, everyone left. Young people, men and children, all left, there’s no one left. You walk around here and find yourself alone. You tell yourself this is this person’s house and that is that family’s but no one left here.''

Child 1
''Child One: I was in Zamalka at home.

Interviewer: What did you feel when the chemical strike happened?

Child One: I felt like my eyes got affected and my stomach started to hurt.

Interviewer: Was anyone from your family hit?

Child one: My dad and two of my uncles.

Interviewer: Did they get wounded or were they martyred?

Child one: They were martyred?

Interviewer: How did your dad die?

Child one: My dad was working in first aid and while he was doing his job he suddenly fell down to the floor.

Interviewer: Did you see your dad getting killed?

Child One: I didn’t see him except in the photographs.''

Child 2
''Interviewer: Where were you during the chemical attacks?

Child Two: I was at home in Zamalka.

Interviewer: What were you doing during the attack?

Child Two: I was sleeping.

Interviewer: What did you feel during the attack.

Child Two: I didn’t feel anything; I woke up and found out that a lot of people died, including family.

Interviewer: Did the chemicals affect you?

Child Two: No they didn’t

Interviewer: Did anyone from your family die?

Child Two: My uncle and my grandparents were martyred, and two other uncles were hit but they were hospitalized and survived.

Interviewer: What can you say about your uncle and grandparents?

Child Two: They used to loves us a lot, and we used to visit them often. It really saddened us.''

Child 3
''Interviewer: Where were you during the chemical attacks?

Child Three: In Zamalka at home.

Interviewer: What were you doing during the attack?

Child Three: I was sleeping

Interviewer: What happened after the attack?

Child Three: I woke up and went to my grandma’s; I waited there and ended up at the hospital.

Interviewer: Did anything happen to any of your relatives?

Child Three: Only my aunt, my dad and my cousin died.

Interviewer: What do you have to say about your dad?

Child Three: He used to love us a lot, and we used to play together and go out''

Child 4
''Interviewer: Where were you during the chemical attack?

Child Four: I was asleep at home.

Interviewer: What did you feel when the chemical attack happened?

Child Four: I didn’t feel anything I just woke up.

Interviewer: The chemical didn’t affect you?

Child Four: My eyes started hurting.

Interviewer: Did anything happen to any of your relatives?

Child Four: Both my brothers.

Interviewer: What happened?

Child Four: They were martyred''

''Until the first aid team arrived, we stayed for around two hours at home; they arrived and found us inside. We couldn’t see clearly, we were nauseous and were experiencing difficulty breading and coughing unnaturally. They took us out of the area and gave us the proper medicine.

Interviewer: Who got martyred or got hit in your family?

Man: No one was martyred in the family thank God, but we were all hit. Around 19 of us and our neighbor and his family and my friend wife came over, we were around 23 people in there.

Interviewer: Are you suffering from any side effects?

Man: Thank God no.
Interviewer: What about ant psychological effect?

Man: This one of course, we were shocked to witness our friends and neighbors killed. Every road we took, we saw someone we know who was dead. It was saddening.''

Shot List:
• Various shots of: Damaged buildings and cars • Shot of: President Bashar Al Assad on groung • Various shots of: Cemetary where most of the chemical attack victims were buried • Various shots of: ''The Grand Mosque of Zamalka'' • Various shots of: People in Streets • Various shots of: Om Mahmoud (the medic), • Various shots of: Caricature, drawings and paintings by Om Mahmoud • Various shots of: FSA Fighter • Various Shots of: Children