U.S. Congress members. File photo
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Members of the US Congress have called for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Syria after viewing a film showing doctors trying to save children following a chlorine gas attack, AFP reported on Wednesday. The former US Ambassador to Syria, Robert S Ford, told the foreign affairs committee that the Syrian government “is using chlorine gas with impunity.”
However, President Bashar Al-Assad has denied being behind a series of chlorine gas attacks launched in barrel bombs from helicopters over the north-western province of Idlib since March. As many as 45 attacks have been reported.
“I am a doctor and I am very familiar with death,” Annie Sparrow told Congress, “but I have never seen a more obscene way to kill children and never watched so many suffer in such an obscene manner.”
Dr Sparrow, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, described working on the ground in Syria. Her voice cracked with emotion. “Syrian children and Syrian civilians deserve protection and the United States can provide it,” she insisted.
Speaking through a translator, Dr Mohamed Tennari described vividly the night of 16 March when a wave of explosive barrel bombs were dropped from helicopters over his home town of Sarmin, filling the air with a “bleach-like” odour. “Dozens of people experienced difficulty breathing, with their eyes and throats burning, and many began secreting from the mouth.”
The chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Representative Ed Royce, said that US policy “has to change”; implementing a no-fly zone, he noted, would lead to “denying Assad ownership” of the skies. “Syrians would no longer be forced to choose between staying above ground where they could be killed by the shrapnel Assad packs inside his barrel bombs or going below ground where they are more vulnerable to suffocating from chlorine gas,” he added.