I am Haitham Al-Badawi from Jobar. I was working at a medical center during the chemical massacre

I am Haitham Al-Badawi from Jobar. I was working at a medical center during the chemical massacre on August 21, 2013. The attack occurred at night, in the peak of summer, in a moment of stillness in the air, around 1:20 AM, which was one of the deepest moments of sleep. At that time, we were besieged and isolated from the world  in Eastern Ghouta. We were attacked by missile carrying Sarin gas, launched  from the area of the Abbasids Square or Panorama of the October War.

We initially thought the rockets and shells were ordinary, as we were accustomed to daily shelling attacks over  residential areas. As a medical center, some of us stayed alert at night for emergencies or to receive the injured from daily shelling.

On that night, I was on the rooftop of the building where I lived, near the medical center. The sound of the shells was strange,  I observed where they fell.

I waited for a few minutes, as usual, before heading to the attack site. I waited for any calls or messages requesting assistance, but none came at that moment. After a few more minutes, injured civilians started arriving, but these were injuries without visible bleeding. The symptoms displayed by the injured included frothing at the mouth, involuntary movements, along with eye twitching, and difficulty breathing, some people who had froth coming out of their mouths but wasn’t  breathing because they were killed suffocating by gas.

I contacted the operations room responsible for communication between medical points to inquire about available information, but they had no definite information and redirected the question to me. I informed them that I see strange cases for the first time and believe that we are under a chemical weapons attack.

At that moment, I began contacting medical points in Ghouta, informing them that we were under chemical weapons attack. At 2 AM, a general medical alert was declared in Ghouta, instructing all medical personnel and paramedics to join medical points, and the rescue operations began to attempt to save the injured in the areas targeted by the shelling.

The major evacuation operations included Zamalka, Jobar, and Ain Tarma. These were named the major evacuation operations because they took long and challenging working hours. We consumed all our efforts and medical supplies from 2012 to 2013 during these operations. In three hours, our main warehouses in Ain Tarma and Jobar were depleted and put into service.

Regarding some of the shelled areas:

1. The first area was Zainiya, with the highest population density in Jobar, where shells fell, causing a large number of casualties, including entire families.

2. The second area was Bashair in Ayn Tarma, where rockets carrying sarin gas fell, affecting a dense population.

3. The third area was  Almazra’a area in Zamalka, known as the vicinity of the Tawfiq Mosque, with a large population density, and most casualties came from this area.

4. The fourth area was the Adnan Mosque area, which was also shelled.

During the evacuation process, I witnessed (A.H) and his family losing their lives. I entered the next door  house, the home of my friend named (B.M), saved him in my hands, and at that moment, his mother-in-law died her life. I remember her looking until now, she was lifeless, placing her hand on her chest and the other hand raised to her neck, trying to get rid of the breathing difficulty caused by inhaling toxic gases, unknowing of the fact that she had inhaled poisonous gases.

As time passed, our situation got worse. By the end of the first few hours, around 5 AM, I felt extreme exhaustion. I entered medical care and managed to regain consciousness after receiving medical treatments like other injured individuals, as we were affected by the gases.

The rescue procedure we followed was giving the injured oxygen from cylinders or oxygen generators, injecting them with atropine, and removing their clothes while washing them with water to get rid of the effects of the gas stuck in their clothes. This was the approach followed at all medical points. I remember that medical points and hospitals turned into bathing places due to the plenty of water, as thousands of injured individuals, in addition to medical staff, were forced to bathe to get rid of the gas. On that night, we had no medical supplies left for any medical procedures.

The casualty numbers were significant, exceeding 1500 martyrs and thousands of injured. You can imagine the fall of 1500 victims within three hours; we were facing the horrors of another world war in an situation resembling Judgment Day.

You don’t know what happened, what is happening to you, and what will happen. You just work with all your energy and expect nothing but death.

I hold the Syrian regime entirely responsible and say that after the chemical bombardment, they launched violent attacks with artillery and missile strikes to kill those who survived the chemical attack and disrupt medical rescue and evacuation operations as well.


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