Sunday, February 14, 2016

How Assad Supporters Responded to the Ghouta Sarin Gas Attack (August 2013)

On August 21, 2013 rockets with sarin gas were launched into rebel held territory in Ghouta, near Damascus. The sarin gas attack killed many people. The death toll was as high as 1,729 people according to the Free Syrian Army. The victims and the opposition said the Assad regime did it. The Assad regime denied this.

But some pro-Assad people on social media and elsewhere didn't get the memo to deny that their side was responsible for it.
In Facebook groups -- like the News Network of the Syria Armed Forces -- which are the most important media war zone in Syria, an "important statement by the army and the armed forces" was issued under the banner of Bashar Assad: "Today we attacked a number of terrorist hideouts with heavy weapons. To protect the civilian population, chemical weapons were also used." This request was posted below the statement: "Bomb them even more severely, Mr. President, with chemicals and other things, because they don't deserve to live!" The Martyrs of the Homeland, also on Facebook, reported that "more than 500 were killed today in a cleansing operation." One of Assad's relatives wrote that Bashar should fire off even more chemical weapons, and a supporter from Latakia made the same request. After the massacre, militia fighters handed out sweets, a traditional way of celebrating joyous events in the Middle East, to pedestrians in the Mezze 86 neighborhood in the western part of Damascus, a stronghold of Alawite members of the security forces. Every audience is told what it is supposed to hear.

Regime supporters are given reports of victory while other countries are fed denials. So far, all sides have been generally satisfied with this approach. No matter how spurious the denials from Damascus are, so far they have managed to push events into a controversial gray zone. (Hans Hoyng and Christoph Reuter, "Assad's Cold Calculation," Der Spiegel, August 26, 2013.)
Hat tip to Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami for mentioning this article.

The following interview (Democracy Now, August 23, 2013,) was also mentioned in regards to that most frightful atrocity. The victims deserve justice.

Tragically the Syrian people continue to suffer from the catastrophe imposed upon them by the Assad regime's campaign of violence and repression. A recent UN report noted that the Assad regime's treatment of prisoners may amount to extermination.

In recent days many Syrians have fled for their lives from Aleppo in the wake of severe bombardment and advances by the Assad regime. This will further contribute to the ongoing refugee crisis.

The Syrian people deserve to live in peace and safety. It is just so terrible.

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