Christoph Reuter reports: Despite its pledge to eliminate chemical weapons, the Assad regime is attacking towns and villages with chlorine gas bombs. SPIEGEL visited the communities hit by the most recent bombings to interview victims, doctors and eyewitnesses.
The green wheat fields shimmer in the late afternoon light as the wind slowly starts to pick up. A cloud of dust drifts by. This is good, says Abu Abdu, a farmer from the village of Telminnes, located deep in the south of Syria’s Idlib province. Prior to the war, the evening wind had been an annoyance for the dust it kicked up. But these days, it is windless nights that people in the area despise. That’s when air force helicopters come and the gas attacks take place. Often, they circle over the city before dropping their cargo.
Usually, there is no big bang, just the sound of a minor detonation, sometimes even just the thud of an impact. Death comes quietly, as it did on the evening of April 21 in Telminnes.
That’s the evening a bomb landed near Abu Abdu’s garden. The farmer says the explosion was a quiet one. “I thought the point of impact was far away,” he recalls. The bomb, which carried a small amount of explosives and a gas cylinder, fell close by — so close that Abu Abdu could already see the cloud before he had the chance to flee. “Yellow vapor rose, it smelled strongly of chlorine and it burned like fire. I could no longer speak or breathe,” he says. Neighbors took him to a makeshift hospital where he was treated with oxygen and an anticonvulsant. “Hours later, I could still barely move my arms, I was coughing up blood and every breath I took was hellish.” [Continue reading…]