Syrians mark the 3rd anniversary of chemical massacre, demand holding Assad accountable

Syrians mark the 3rd anniversary of chemical massacre, demand holding Assad accountable

Syrians marked the three-year anniversary of a chemical massacre by Assad regime forces near Damascus on Sunday, launching a social media campaign to criticize the U.S and Western allies who, they say, allowed President Bashar al-Assad to “continue operating his killing machine.”

On the morning of August 21, 2013, forces loyal to President Assad attacked Ghouta, in the Damascus suburbs, with the nerve agent sarin. 1,429 people were killed, according to a report by the U.S government. A team of UN chemical weapons inspectors confirmed the reports, claiming that it was the “most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them” in Halabja, Iraq in 1988, according to the BBC.

The international community was outraged after shocking images and videos from the area showed victims of the attack—adults and children—alongside images of dead bodies laid out in rows on the floor. Months later, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) implemented an agreement reached by Washington and Moscow to destroy Assad’s chemical arsenal.

A campaign launched Sunday by several Syrian opposition groups with the hashtag #AssadChemicals ( #كيماوي_الاسد in Arabic) blames the international community. “Despite multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and despite the massive international disarmament exercise organized by the OPCW and the UN, Assad has not stopped using chemical weapons,” they write. Instead, “a century after chlorine was first used as a chemical weapon against Allied soldiers on the battlefields of the First World War, Assad has revived its use as a terror weapon against Syrian civilians.”

“The third anniversary of the Chemical Massacre in Syria when the world gave the war criminal Assad a chance to kill. The war criminal Assad is still free and killing more, shame on humanity,” tweeted one user. A Syrian journalist from Aleppo Ahmad Primo tweeted that “They destroyed some of Assad’s chemical weapons & they left the murderer free without punishment.”

Many users referred to President Obama’s remarks to White House reporters in 2012 that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would constitute a “red line” for U.S intervention in Syria. A year later, when Assad carried out the attack, the U.S. did not strike Syria—but instead reached an agreement to destroy the country’s chemical arsenal.

“The red line from Obama was actually a green light to use chemical against the Syrian people,” wrote one user in Arabic. chemical massacre

On the ground

many Syrians inside and outside Syria took to the streets commemorating the martyrs and demanding the killer, Bashar Assad, to be held accountable.

A group of Syrians gathered in Istanbul holding photos of the martyrs and banners demanding the international community to act and stop the killing machine of Bashar Assad and his regime from killing Syrians.

Inside Syria, in Douma, the residents of the city assembled holding the flag of the Syrian revolution and banners with slogans demanding Assad to be brought to justice.

Syrian children in a number of Syrian cities also gathered to protest that Assad is still free and continues to kill more and more Syrians, unchecked.

Children in Aleppo posed in front wreckage of destroyed houses holding signs blaming the international community.

In Latakia, also, children held signs demanding the international community to act.

The signs read, “In the third anniversary of the massacre of chemicals, Assad is free under international patronage”