We received news reports on Saturday quoting an international aid group which said that the medical centres it supported in Syria, near the site of the suspected chemical weapons attack close to Damascus, received more than 3,000 patients.
Apparently, they all showed symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic nerve agents on the morning of August 21.
And, as of Saturday morning, 355 of all those patients died, according to the group.
And the group I am talking about is none other than the reputed ‘Doctors Without Borders’ which many of us can trust.
So, while I believe there is no doubt that these people are exposed to hazardous chemicals, I must also accept that it is yet to be conclusively proven that Bashar Al Assad, the President of Syria, has perpetuated this horrendous assault on hapless people.
On the one hand, the Syrian rebels are saying that hundreds of people were killed when government forces pelted the area with rockets spewing poisoned gas.
On the other hand, the Syrian government is denying that it used chemical weapons. And they even said on Saturday that its soldiers had found chemical supplies in areas seized from rebel forces.
While that is within Syria, what is the opinion outside?
On the outside is a huge clamour of international voices on this horrific incident. Some are denouncing the use of chemical weapons by the government, and some are blaming the anti-government forces for using it. So, who’s right?
Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, accused the rebels of using the weapons. Iran, another ally of Syria, says the same as Russia.
But, President Obama of USA and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain expressed concern about “increasing signs of a significant chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime against its own people.” The two leaders say that “significant use of chemical weapons would merit a serious response from the international community.”
But the question many are asking is what the international community can really do. And even if it decides on a course of action, will it go ahead and do it?
I believe that the time has come for the International Community to take a firmer stand on this growing tragedy in Syria; where human lives are lost in tens of thousands since the rebel uprising began.
I believe there has been enough casual talk on this matter of human significance. Action is what is needed.
What we need now is to increase pressure on Syria, from outside, to bring the government to its senses. So that it can stop and arrest the senseless killings.
But, combating the killings by diplomacy would need foreign offices of different countries to come together with greater coordination, and to take a stand that ultimately benefits the common people of Syria. They must.
As I write this, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, has arrived in Damascus to press Bashar al-Assad’s government for an inquiry into Wednesday’s alleged chemical weapons attacks.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has tasked Kane to finalize the terms of an inquiry with Syrian officials and to also call on the opposition to cooperate.
Let us hope that the UN team is allowed access to conduct a peaceful and full inquiry so that the truth will be out.
As of now, the needle of suspicion is clearly pointing towards Bashar Al Assad.
He may say he did not attack his citizens. But many in Syria already claim to know the truth. And it is against the government.
But what the world is more specifically waiting for is a closure. And it must be a closure where justice will triumph.