Doctors testify at UN over Syria chemical attacks

Published April 17th, 2015 - 10:50 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

The U.N. Security Council listened Thursday to Syrian doctors who attempted to rescue children affected by alleged chlorine attacks in Idlib province of Syria. 

Behind closed doors, Council members were shown footage of children dying following an alleged chemical weapon attack in Sarmin, near Idlib in northern Syria in March. 

According to international watchdog Human Rights Watch, more than 200 civilians including 20 civil defense workers were exposed to toxic chemicals in several barrel bomb attacks between March 16 and 31. 

In a press conference following the meeting with the doctors, U.S. representative to the U.N. Samantha Power said all members of the Security Council were moved by the footage.

Power called for action against the Syrian regime's chemical attacks by overcoming division at the fifteen-member council. 

A Syrian doctor Mohammed Tenari said most of the dead in the attacks were women and children. "Sounds of helicopters were heard during the attacks and bleach-like odors were felt," said Tenari. 

Another doctor Zaher Sahlul said all members of the council including Russia, China and Venezuela should hold those responsible accountable and called for action from the international community.

"Some representatives at the council burst into tears and what is important is to turn this emotional atmosphere into action," said Sahlul. 

On Friday, the doctors are due to visit Russia's U.N. delegation in an effort to persuade Moscow not to use its veto against measures to be taken against the Syrian regime. 

The Syrian opposition has repeatedly accused the Assad regime of using chemical and toxic weapons against civilians since August 2013, when a single attack reportedly killed more than 1,400 civilians.

The regime denies this accusation, pinning the blame on its adversaries.  

The Syrian civil war, which entered its fifth year this month, has claimed more than 220,000 lives so far, according to the UN.

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