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PHR Experts Comment on Video Footage from Syria

For Immediate Release

A team of experts from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has reviewed footage of a number of publicly available videos emerging from Syria, along with reports of events leading up to the filmed footage, and concluded that there is compelling medical evidence that chemical weapons or other lethal gases have been used. The organization issued the following statement:

The videos show multiple scenes with dozens of casualties with no apparent signs of trauma, injury, or bleeding. In some cases, apparent survivors are experiencing agonal breathing, which is a sign of imminent respiratory failure and death, as well as copious oral and nasal secretions and vomiting. This medical evidence is consistent with reports by Syrian medical sources describing a pattern of symptoms, including acute respiratory distress, pupillary constriction, excessive oral and nasal secretions and vomiting, all of which suggest exposure to an organophosphate such as sarin. While we can’t speak about the authenticity of the videos, the consistency of the clinical evidence emerging from these videos in multiple locations indicates the use of a chemical weapon or another lethal agent. The videos also indicate an appalling lack of adequate medical supplies, including oxygen, endotracheal tubes, nasogastric suction, respiratory ventilators, basic medications such as atropine, benzodiazepines, and IVs fluids, and appropriate medical personnel.

It is crucially important that an immediate and thorough investigation be conducted, and the U.N. team currently in Damascus be granted unfettered access to the scene of the reported attack in the Ghouta region. The Syrian government’s refusal to grant such access is a slap in the face to the international community and should not be tolerated. Evidence of such grave and large-scale human rights abuses must be urgently investigated in order to stop these violations and hold perpetrators accountable. It is also imperative that the Syrian government ensures that medical professionals are given adequate resources and protection so that they can correctly diagnose, treat and document any injuries and deaths.

Note: The following video clips are examples of several of more than 100 videos and photos examined by the PHR team. Please be advised the images are graphic and may not be appropriate for young viewers.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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