At least three separate chemical attacks have been reported on the ground in Syria, on the same day that Russia and China used their Security Council veto to block International Criminal Court action on atrocities there.
Eliot Higgins, a Syria activist and investigator who goes by the pseudonym "Brown Moses," reported Thursday that Kafr Zita, a town in the Hama Governate of northern Syria, was attacked by chemical barrel bombs twice on Wednesday, after a previous chemical attack reported there on Monday. Al Tamanah, located only 15 km (about 10 miles) away from Kafr Zita, was also reportedly attacked Wednesday. The numbers of dead and wounded are still unknown.
A YouTube channel labeled as documenting attacks in Hama posted a video of the second attack in Kafr Zita on Thursday. The video shows men, women and children struggling to breathe.
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A similar video was uploaded to a different YouTube channel purporting to document the attack in Al Tamanah.
“To me, it's difficult not to see three chemical attacks on the same day an attempt to refer the Syria to the ICC is vetoed as the Syrian government thumbing its nose at the international community's attempts to hold it to account,” Higgins wrote on his blog regarding the recent attacks. “Given the flaccid reaction to chemical barrel bomb attacks it seems future attacks of this type are more than likely.”
It could be even more likely to happen again if it was in fact chlorine that was used in the barrel bombs. Chlorine is not listed in any of the Chemical Weapons Convention lists of banned chemicals. The chemical is a choking agent that typically incapacitates its victims. In addition to having water-purifying properties, can be lethal depending on the concentration.
Chlorine has been used before in Kafr Zita at another chemical attack in April that killed two people and wounded more than 200. The Syrian regime claimed the al-Nusra Front, a Sunni Muslim jihadi group with ties to al-Qaeda, used chlorine gas. In turn, opposition groups blamed the attack on the regime, saying its forces dropped chemical barrel bombs.
The plight of the Syria people is only worsening, despite attemps at sending aid. According to U.N. Security Council documents obtained by Al Jazeera Thursday, about 9.3 million people are still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
“Disrespect for human life and dignity remain a defining feature of the Syrian conflict and is at the root of continued killing, enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, kidnappings and sexual and gender-based violence,” the document stated.