© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News Partners

Doctor Who Treated Attack Victims Says Evidence Points To Sarin Gas

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The pictures of those children who died in that apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria were heart-wrenching and so difficult to look at. On the streets of Idlib province in Syria, doctors who saw the carnage with their own eyes are haunted by it. Abdulhai Tennari is a lung specialist who treated dozens of the victims.

ABDULHAI TENNARI: One of the difficult things that I saw many children without their families. There was children without families. There were families looking for children, for their relatives. I saw one child. He was just few months age. He was sucking his finger with nobody, no family, nobody knows him.

MARTIN: Dr. Tennari is with the Syrian American Medical Society. It supports hospitals in opposition-held areas of the country. His hospital is about 50 miles from Tuesday's attack. However, many patients were brought all the way there because the airstrikes had destroyed hospitals close by. Dr. Tennari says everything he has seen indicates people were killed by exposure to sarin gas.

TENNARI: People were laying down on the ground after a short time. All the victims, including the dead people, who were dead for a few hours, they had the constricted pupil.

MARTIN: Those constricted pupils, he says, are a sign of gas poisoning. And as for the victim's lungs?

TENNARI: Those people, their lungs were full of secretions. And their respiratory lungs became weak because of the effect of this nerve agent. So essentially, they suffocate directly.

MARTIN: Suffocated directly. The Syrian government claims they destroyed their chemical weapons stockpile back in 2013. That was after President Obama said they had crossed a red line by killing hundreds of civilians in a sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs. Dr. Tennari says Tuesday's attack is the worst he has seen, but he has no plans to leave Syria.

TENNARI: It is a difficult decision, leaving Syria to escape with my life. The pressure on us that sometimes we think maybe we will be the next victims. But what about others?

(SOUNDBITE OF RAHIM ALHAJ'S "LETTER 1 EASTERN LOVE - SINAN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.