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WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES: Victims of Sarin gas attack in Damascus

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The images are very hard to look at. Rows of bodies, ready to be stacked into graves like cord-wood, have been photographed by Reuters staff in Damascus, Syria where an alleged chemical weapons attack may have killed as many as 1,300 civilians.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We warn you that the images within this article are very graphic and disturbing. They include children.

On Wednesday morning, just before dawn, a rocket attack was staged against a Damascus suburb. Instead of high explosive warheads, those rockets contained some form of nerve agent which spread in a toxic cloud across homes, mosques, and public areas, settling in the lungs of hundreds, including sleeping children.

A few probably died quickly, more likely had time to suffer as their lethal doses of nerve agents went to work as pesticides do against insects, albeit slowly. It's a known problem with chemical weapons, they are only immediately effective within a small radius, and take time to work the farther away a victims from ground zero.

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Nonetheless, people died just the same and many others were seriously injured as their bodies reacted violently to the chemicals.

The images are intended to shock. They should shock you and turn your stomach. What has happened is being referred to by the French Foreign Minister as "an unprecedented atrocity." Indeed, the latest attack may be the worst chemical weapons attack since Saddam Hussein gassed a Kurdish village in northern Iraq in 1988. The world did not do much about that attack either.

In Wednesday's attack, the suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka, and Jobar were struck with chemicals, delievered by rockets or possibly artillery.

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Most victims died in bed, as the warheads exploded outside their homes just before the waking hour.

The gas used against the people is believed to have been the infamous Sarin nerve gas, one of the most deadly substances known to humans. Sarin is deadly within one to ten minutes, and a fraction of an ounce on the skin is enough to cause death.  Of course, there are many survivors, who were exposed to just enough gas to cause violent reactions and trauma, but not death.

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Victims lose vision, foam at the mouth, and become paralyzed. Only immediate treatment with proper antidotes can save the victim from death. Naturally, such antidotes are nonexistent by this time in Syria.

Overnight, the UN Security Council met to devise a strongly worded resolution to condemn the attacks. The US, England, and France were blocked by Russia and China. No resolution will be forthcoming.

The UN has sent a team to investegate, there is no word on how much access they will be given.

National leaders condemned the attacks. Then resumed their breakfasts, politicking, or what busyness they had to fill their day.

The United States has expressed reluctance to support the Syrian rebels after large numbers of al Qaeda fighters managed to infiltrate the Free Syrian Army and form brigades of extremists. The US wants to see a state formed that supports American interests and so far, there is no guarantee the highly-factionalized rebel forces can coalesce into such a government.

Also, the western world is reluctant to engage in an open-ended conflict that will provide uncertain results. Meanwhile, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, and China are more than happy to continue supplying the Assad regime with weapons and aid.

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If Assad wins the conflict, the western world will be punished for siding with the rebels and calling for the condemnation of his regime. If the rebels win, it is possible the western world could influence the Syrian people, weary of war, that a peaceful, truly democratic society is best. We may not be pleased with the outcome of their elections, but perhaps their government will remain moderate and amicable to the west.

Most importantly, scenes like those generated in Damascus this week will not be repeated. For that reason alone, the intervention of the entire world is due.

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It is well past time to put politics and religious differences aside. All religions and politics can agree that the murder of innocents is wrong. The merits of moderate Islam and democracy can be debated later.

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