At a hospital in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, Dr. Zakariya had just started an early morning shift when dozens of patients began streaming in. It was a scene of chaos: patients struggling to breathe, vomiting, convulsing, foaming at the mouth, and losing consciousness.
As soon as he arrived on the scene, Bashar – a first responder with the Syrian Civil Defense or White Helmets – knew that this attack was unlike anything he had ever encountered.
It's been just three weeks since the UN Security Council adopted its latest resolution on the conflict in Syria, re-authorizing cross-border delivery routes for humanitarian aid and promising - once again - to take "further measures" if the parties to the conflict do not comply with international humanitarian law.
Recent medical reports of chlorine gas attacks in Syria reveal a disturbing trend in the use of chemical warfare against civilians. At least 25 people reportedly suffered chemical exposure during attacks in Idlib just last week, and six people were killed – and dozens of others were wounded – in an attack on Sarmin village in March.
As atrocities committed by the self-declared Islamic State (IS), also called ISIS or ISIL, dominate media headlines, we must not forget the civilians who have been suffering since long before IS gained a stronghold in parts of Syria and Iraq.