Opposition groups in Syria have long accused embattled President Bashar al-Assad's forces of launching massive chemical attacks on his own people, despite government denials that it played any part, blaming rebel forces instead.
However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Doctors without Borders (MFS) have confirmed reports that 322 people, including “54 children, 82 women and dozens of rebels, as well as 16 unidentified bodies,” died this week during a toxic gas attack in Ghouta, and agricultural suburb of Damascus which supplies meat, vegetables and dairy products to the capital’s 3 million residents.As a result, many there fear that their food and water supplies have been contaminated as well.
According to western experts, this is believed to be the worst chemical weapons attack since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in 1988. Syria’s government denies any role in the deaths and blames rebels.
While it is still not known what poison or mixture of poisons were responsible for the deaths, there are those who suspect it may have been Sarin gas, which both the US and France believe was used in earlier attacks in Syria. According to the CDC, Sarin “mixes with water, and people can be exposed to it by touching or drinking contaminated food and water.”
Within three hours after the attack on Wednesday nearly 3,600 victims arrived at local hospitals displaying symptoms "strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent, including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress," noted MSF director of operations Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations.
Although President Obama stated a year ago that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “"red line" for the United States,” 60% of Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should “stay out of the conflict” despite this latest horror.