It is been 5 years, 60 months, 257 weeks, 1800 days, almost 43230 hours since the deadly chemical attack by the Syrian government on Eastern Ghouta. An aggregate of almost 1400 mostly civilians have been killed in this brutal attack.
I still remember very well that catastrophic day in all its horrific details. In fact, not the whole day, because it was quicker than that, only a few hours were enough to rob almost 1400 humans' life.
In the month of August 2013, I used to wake up after the midnight on almost a daily basis after hearing that sound of the ambulances. They were transporting people who affected by breathing the poisonous gases on the edge of the city of Douma in those areas nearby to the frontlines. It became like a routine for me to wake up every day after midnight, heading towards the makeshift hospital, documenting the injuries and uploading videos on the internet.
But, the 21st of August 2013 was not that normal day. It was a completely tragic day. I cannot say it was one of the worst days that I have lived because it was really the worst day I have ever had.
I woke up as it was customary after the midnight hearing the usual sound of the ambulances, it was about 3 o'clock. I took my camera and headed hastily towards the makeshift hospital that used to receive the injuries, which also was not a far from my house; less than 200 meters separate us.
The building consists of two floors, one on the ground and a basement. Usually, they used to treat the injuries in the basement that prepared to receive most of the emergency cases, after that, wounded people who received the essential treatment will be transferred to the other floor until the medical staff finishes of providing treatment to the critical cases.
I arrived at the hospital, instantly, I headed to the downstairs. There, I shocked due to the enormity of that scene. I was not conscious of what happened and what happens, it is just I found myself suddenly standing in the middle of a place that was full of tens of wounded at their last moments of life.
I could not understand what was happening in front of me, the scenes were so ambiguous, the flow of wounded was not stopping, I tried to carry my camera to document what happens but I have not been able to do so. I have not been able to take even a single picture at that spot of death. I felt suffocating then, not because I breathed the chemical gas, but because of the disability, grief, and pain.
Everyone was wearing the sleep clothes or the underwear. The bodies of wounded everywhere, I watched children lying down on the ground as they shivering, including them infants who cannot resist this scary monster, the monster of death. Even though, they were trying to resist the bitterness of death as they take their last breaths in this harsh life.
Doctors were extremely busy with injecting affected people with Atropine which was their only chance to survive. All that you can hear at that moment is the hysterical calls for Atropine which became almost missing due to the huge usage, and there were not enough stored amounts of it because of the siege the enforced by the Syrian government on the area.
I could not stand that tough situation any further, I decided to go up to the ground floor, so I took the stairs to get out of that hell.
When I arrived at the sidewalk, and before going into the ground floor; I saw an extremely terrifying scene, there were tens of people lying down in the middle of the street as they dying! no one can save them!
The sound of ambulances and the mosques' calls for help were ringing out the whole place. Ambulances were still bringing more injuries, they were emptying the vehicle in the middle of the street and go back hastily to bring others. All that was provided to those wounded is washing them with water to clean their bodies from the vestige of gas.
I entered the ground floor; the place was so quiet compared to the outside. There was some men, women, and children lying down on the ground. I started thinking; why they are sitting like that?! Why they are not doing any movement?!, no they are not dead; because there is not even a single drop of blood or any sign of injury.
I began deluding myself; they are sleeping because they really looked like that or they are taking a rest here as it was customary after receiving the essential treatment. In fact, they were really taking a rest, but not only from their injury but from this whole terrible life. They were all dead!
There were two kids lying down at a blind spot, I approached them to see what is wrong with them because I noticed that they were shivering. It was another shock to me when I saw the foam over their faces, they were dying, it was just a few seconds till they died in front of my eyes and I have not been able to help them. Actually, nobody was able to help, because they were already injected, but it seems like the medication does not work, or their weak bodies refused to bear all that pain; refused to stay in this crazy world.
Finally, I managed to carry my camera to take a picture of those two innocent children, because they have greatly affected me. It was so daunting to me, but I have to document that disaster. I took a few steps back and took another two pictures of victims on the ground.
Next, I got into a small room, it was full of children's corpses. They really looked like asleep, there was no difference between them and any sleeping child but there is a monster poisoned them to kill their hopes and future, to finish the dreams of their parents and relatives. I wanted to take a picture there, but I felt the heaviness of my hands when I raised the camera, I felt fear and guilt as I am trying to take that picture, the distance between us was so close, it was a very tight room congested of bodies, I could not take the picture and decided to leave the place.
Alongside with documenting the events then, I was contributing to help with a local media foundation. My second mission was to receive the documented materials from my friends, spreading them on the internet and distribute the links to the TV channels and news agencies.
After I have left the makeshift hospital, and before going back to my house to publish the few photos and videos that I managed to take. I dropped by my friend's house to tell him to go to cover that tragedy and continued on my way. When I arrived home, I started preparing the internet connection, which was never easy to get at that time. After that, I began preparing the videos and photographs that I documented and uploading them to the internet.
During that period, I was following the dealt materials on the social media, it was a thousand times flagrant than what I witnessed. I became certain that the catastrophe is much bigger. Wherever I look, I was seeing pictures of children shivering, children taking their last breaths amid the uproar of this universe.
Hundreds of scattered bodies here and there, my city was a bit far from the targeted place, but due to the massive pressure on the nearby field hospitals and due to the lack of capacity, they were bringing the injuries to all the medical centers.
My friends brought to me the videos, I worked on them quickly and finished to go to the Syrian Civil Defense center known as the point 200, where they used to bring the corpses to be enshrouded and prepared for burying. It was a really huge disaster, tens of bodies lying down on the ground; men, women, children. They were in white shrouds as the whiteness of the hearts of those innocent children. All of them were killed in that odious chemical attack!
Until this moment, I still remember the face of that tiny baby who killed by suffocation without even knowing his guilt. The most difficult part was when the relatives of the victims came to identify their relatives, they were forced to look closely at each body.
A woman found her little girl between the scattered bodies, her grief was beyond the description. She embraced her and started kissing her and crying over her small body. She was talking to her like if she is still alive, asking her why did she choose to let her alone in such a pain?!, but no answer, because the little princess was already left that miserable life, leaving her beloved ones in such a sorrow.
The reconnaissance plane began as well as the shelling started. There was no possibility to stay any longer, otherwise, I will be stuck in that building because the bombing started getting intenser.
After that horrible massacre, all that victims' relatives hoped for is; the trial of the murderer to take his punishment, they wanted justice, so their souls and sacrifice do not go in vain.
However, the world had another plan, where they sent an international investigating committee, they checked the targeted places, collected samples of everything; human, animal, soil. They got testimonies from wounded. Even, there already were hundreds of videos and photos that document that catastrophe, but the inaction of the world was integrally distasteful. All that they did is to pull the crime's weapon from the hands of the killer and let him go unpunished in such a despicable way.
Today, after 5 years, this anniversary comes back to remind us of the inaction of the world, letting this criminal "Bashar al-Assad" do more and more crimes in many different ways with no punishment!