Three hospitals across Syria have reported to the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), regarding an influx of thousands of Syrian patients who have exhibited symptoms of exposure to neurotoxic substances, during Wednesday morning.
MSF is an organization that operates in almost 70 countries across the globe to offer emergency medical treatment to people embroiled in the aftermath of natural disasters and violent conflict, as well as those suffering from infection or malnutrition.
The team have strong connections with medical networks and hospitals situated throughout Damascus and have extended their expertise and support, in the form of drugs and life-saving equipment.
Access to these regions by MSF members has been stunted as of late, due to obvious security risks. However, MSF operatives are still functioning in the north of Syria, within a variety of hospitals and healthcare centers.
Director of Operations, Dr. Bart Janssens, recently expounded upon the latest developments:
“Medical staff working in these facilities provided detailed information to MSF doctors regarding large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress.”
Patients have been treated with an alkaloid, called atropine, which has often been used to treat anticholinesterase poisoning, and also relieves pain by inhibiting nervous impulses within nerve endings of the skin. Atropine is well known for its ability to treat neurotoxic symptoms. However, stocks of the drug began to diminish as hoards of patients piled into the hospitals to receive medical attention; the MSF hope to aid the emergency medical services by restocking their dwindling supplies.
According to MSF’s source, Dr. Janssens, the use of chemical weapons is very likely based upon the “epidemiological pattern of the events.” Massive numbers have been struck by neurotoxic symptoms, including many healthcare workers, over a very short period of time; these facts, combined with the origins of affected patients, suggests a coordinated chemical attack was executed on large numbers of the Syrian population. But, as we witness thousands of people under attack, where are the Syrian people to turn?
Janssens highlights the political implications of these events, assuming their accuracy to be sound:
“This would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, which absolutely prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.”
The Syrian leader, President Bashar Al-Assad, denies using chemical or biological weapons against his own people. However, there is a growing body of evidence to implicate the Syrian government’s involvement in the use of chemical weapons. Preventing United Nations weapons inspectors from accessing particular sites is also seen as a rather telling act.
The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, seems absolutely convinced of the Syrian regime’s culpability, suggesting their use of chemical weapons was the only “plausible explanation” for recent events.
Comparatively, President Obama seeks to adopt a more cautioned approach. Despite inferring an imminent U.S. response, Obama made it absolutely clear that he would need international backing, alongside concrete proof of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons (Please be advised, the following video contains footage that some viewers may find disturbing).
All in all, the humanitarian body report an approximate figure of 3,600 patients observed with obvious signs of neurotoxic symptoms. With thousands of people enduring horrendous deaths, and many sustaining debilitating, long-term side-effects, one must question whether any member of the international community dares to make the first move?
By: James Fenner