For centuries, historians wrote about Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, and how it was the generosity symbol, the lung of Damascus, and the paradise of all natural resources.
Eastern Ghouta became today a symbol of death for the whole world to see. It has become a living hell in which souls die silently, along with all the details of a previous life, humans, trees, and stones.
Eastern Ghouta woke up on 13 / Shawal / 1434, corresponding to August 21/2013 because of the sound of rockets fired from the brigade 155. The 12 rockets fell in Zamalka and Ain Tarma around two-thirty in the morning (2:30 A.M). These towns have high population density and they are far from the military front-line. Most people were asleep and they awoke to an enormous tragedy, people fell dead and those who were asleep, did not ever wake up. The scene was very painful.
Thick foam came out of the mouth, and the eyes were red. Later, it was revealed that the 12 rockets were loaded with chemical warheads, fell on unarmed civilians who have nothing to protect themselves from the deadly toxic substances. Many of them have perished.
The medical aid started in the vicinity of the city. The Eastern Ghouta minarets started calling for an ambulance to help civilians. Hospitals were overwhelmed by martyrs and injured people and were not able to handle such large number of hurt people. The severe shortage of medical supplies made the task of the few doctors nearly impossible.
According to Dr. Nada, who is in charge in one of these Medical Centers: "This small place has 800 injured people. Most of them get out as a martyr, and we could not prioritize any case over another, as we usually do, ambulatory situations, children, women and the elderly, all cases were urgent. Modest tools and suffering of severe shortage of atropine injections in these centers have made it difficult to ensure people`s life. Some cases got out and came back two days later with more complications. Given Atropine doses to them were not sufficient. We had to distribute the existing amount of atropine to the large numbers who came in."
Another doctor said:, "I saw a lot of dead people this day. Fifty children passed in my hands". The crying doctor said: "Even my friends paramedics died the next day due to close contact with infected cases by toxic gases. We could not do a lot"
Dr. Nabil was in charge at another center. After the completion of his work, he returned back home to find out that his five sons were martyred this night. We could not talk to him, he is speechless now, suffering of severe psychological disorders.
Atropine injections were the only treatment, but it was not enough to cover all the people needs. The results, in few hours, were 1225 martyrs and 6000 injured.
A day after the massacre, Families continued searching for missing relatives. Some people managed to escape and get away, while others were buried without names or identities because of the difficulty of delay burial until you get to know them. More than 200 unknown martyrs were buried.
Some activists filmed unknown martyrs, and launched a campaign titled "Tell me ya mo2men". The main goal of this campaign is to print photos of martyrs and injured and dissemination them in an exhibition of photographs.
Dr. Mohamed, member of responsible team of this campaign, said: "it’s a different type gallery, it is not an exhibition of art, it is a gallery of the martyrs. A woman came to search for eleven persons of her family. She expected to find some of them alive, but sadly she saw their pictures in the exhibition. It is quite hard to describe her feelings!"
In another place far away from that exhibition shelters have been constructed. Children were found alive and lonely. These children were gathered together in these centers, and activists have declared their existence to all Ghouta. A father, and after he met his child, he was shocked because he never expected to see him alive anymore.
Families flowed searching for their relatives who were missed or killed by the bombing of Al Assad regime by internationally banned chemical weapons to unarmed civilian-populated area. Most of these families were reunited.
Maher, a child, was unlucky to find his family later. Maher told us how his mother fell down at the house front door when she was trying to get them out of the house. Then, his father, his elder sister, and his six-year-old brother fell down also. Maher, 12, lost his entire family and was the only survivor. This little survivor does not know how his life would become, crying in front of cameras and saying, "I want mama."
Lots of work still to do. media activist from Al Ghouta, Abu Wissam, said: "We went on the fourth day after the massacre to an area called the farm in Zamalka, they told us that there are bodies still in the houses have not been taken out yet. Entire families are still dormant until this moment, and the smell of death spread everywhere. 400 bodies were got out in that day".
Abu Wissam continued: "That day, our friend Ahmed, has dead. Ahmad documented those cases, but a sniper near Zamalka shot him and he died later. We could not photograph him because he was in charge to get photos"
This tragedy is not an imaginary film, no; it is a fact lived by the people in Eastern Ghouta.hen we asked Abu Wissam about the general situation after the massacre, he said: "It is very difficult to imagine what had happened. Some of them had lost their mind, and the others have been shocked. An old man became speechless; even he used a nail to write on his arm to tell us that he came from Zamalka. We prohibited him to do that and gave him a pen to write, even though he was unable to write”
People who still alive did the hard work, 1500 martyrs and till now there are missing people.
Remaining stones are the only witnesses in whole towns which were full of life. Nobody could help people because these towns are surrounded by the regime soldiers a year ago.
This tragedy is not an imaginary film, no; it is a fact lived by the people in Eastern Ghouta.
Luna Al Abdallah.
Notes on this report: This report claims 1500 deaths from the chemical attack or maybe more if the 400 bodies found days later in Zamalka are added to the 1225 that it said died on the day of the attack.
More importantly, for those obsessed with the poison gas death count, it speaks of 6000 affected, as does the Doctors Without Borders report. We are also hearing for the first time of victims who had been released from hospitals coming back with new problems and of medical staff dying latter on from contact. The point here to understand is that it is very likely that more people died of this attack than died immediately and it is likely, as with other chemical weapons use, people will continue to die from this attack for some time to come.
Those that are trying to minimize the death count from attack should think about sending medical aid to East Ghouta rather than cherry picking the lowest numbers.