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Physicians for Human Rights Statement on Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma, eastern Ghouta.

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today condemns yet another apparent chemical weapon attack in Syria that killed dozens of people, including women and children, in the rebel-held suburb of Douma in eastern Ghouta, east of the capital, Damascus.

The following statement is attributable to Homer Venters, PHR’s director of programs:

“Today, we see yet another example of the brutal and horrific disregard for humanitarian norms and the brazen flouting of international law. As we see the shocking pictures of the dozens of men, women and children killed in Douma, and others who are barely alive, displaying the most brutal of symptoms: foaming at the mouth, burning eyes, breathing problems, seizures, nausea and vomiting, we once again say: this must end.

“PHR has long documented the impacts of chemical agents, and we continue to remind the international community that any use of chemical weapons is an egregious violation of international law and requires an immediate response.

“While PHR is unable to immediately identify the perpetrator of this attack, this incident fits a pattern of similar strikes carried out by the Syrian government, including one on Khan Sheikhoun one year ago, which killed more than 80 people in a nerve agent attack. The world was shocked by those images in April 2017, yet today we are seeing the same unspeakable act take place.

“These attacks should repulse us. We should not be numbed and desensitized in the face of repeated atrocities happening with impunity. International bodies, governments, and citizens alike, need to take action to ensure that these crimes are never again committed.

“PHR calls for an immediate and independent investigation into this attack, involving the collection of evidence, including environmental and biological samples, in order to finally ensure accountability in Syria – something that has been absent for the past seven years of this cruel conflict.

“We call for an immediate end to all chemical attacks and for the swift cessation of hostilities, including those that PHR has been documenting since 2011 on health facilities and humanitarian aid."

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.