There are still some people who believe that the chemical weapon massacre in Ghouta was not perpetrated by Assad regime! Some believe that it was done by the rebels themselves to fool the "West" so it come to their aid. Some believe that it was a plot that was orchestrated by Israel and Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Some believe that it is the US that has manufactured that massacre in order to intervene and base its intervention on fabricated evidence. Some believe that the number of those died in the massacre is much less than the reported 1429, and that it is only few hundreds. Some believe that the rebels have killed their children and families to lure the US in order to attack Assad. Some believe that it is Iran, Israel and the US who have orchestrated this plan against "us". And of course, Bothaina Shaaban believes that the children who were killed were children brought from the villages in Latakia by the rebels in trucks to the Ghouta area that has been under suffocating siege for the past year.
Ok, let us consider these options. If the regime is not responsible for the chemical weapons attacks in East and west Ghouta, let us imagine how it would, or should, have reacted and compare that to what actually happened?
1. The regime should have held a press conference next day blaming the attack on the rebels, the terrorists, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as it has done after Khan Alassal CWA attack in Aleppo in April 2013. This is a great chance for the regime to discredit the rebels once and for all. Instead the regime denied the attack completely as if it did not happen for the first 3 days.
2. SANA and Aldonya and Alakhbareyya would have had seized the moment and had continuous coverage of the massacre by the terrorists and blaming it on Alnusra. Instead there were very minimal or no reporting on the attacks. There were no reporting to blame the rebels until 3 days after the massacre with the stupid coverage of barrels of chemicals that were found somewhere and Syrian army personnel wearing masks.
3. Syrian TV and its affiliates would have continuous coverage of the victims and their families and how they condemn the rebels and Islamists who committed this heinous crime. Instead the TV had not even one interview of children and families who live 20 minutes from the center of Damascus.
4. The Syrian Ministry of health and all ministries would have announced disaster area and implemented a contingency plan in Damascus hospitals on chemical weapons decontamination and how to deal with potential future attacks by the rebels. The plan would have included training of doctors on dealing with CWA, stocking up hospitals with antidotes and protective gears and educating the public on what to do when the terrorists fire the next chemical weapon barrel. Instead not one hospital in the areas under the regime control including military hospitals have done anything to prepare against such disaster. Let us bare in mind that the first chemical weapon attack blamed on the rebels according to the Syrian regime happened in April in Khan Alasal in Aleppo!
5. The regime would welcomed instant investigation by the UN team that is only 20 minutes away from the fabricated attack. Instead the UN investigators were only allowed after the threat of military strike was clear.
6. The regime would have preserved the "evidence" that will show to the world that Israel and Saudi Arabia and Alqaeeda committed an attack with WMD. Instead the regime fighter jets and artillery continued bombing the area for 5 consecutive days after August 21 as if they want to erase any evidence remained.
6. Assad would have appeared on Syrian TV next day addressing the Syrian people about the heinous crime committed by the terrorists and declaring national day of mourning and conveying his heartfelt sympathies to the children who were killed and their families ( whether they were from Latakia or Ghouta). Instead Assad's first interview was to Russian newspaper about one week after the massacre after the threat of military strike became reality.
7. Assad would have denied in clear terms that the regime or its troops have ordered or committed the chemical weapon attack. Instead SANA and Assad used vague statements initially like " It is political suicide to commit such massacre while the UN team is in Damascus" or " It is not logical for us to do it" or " We would not need to use chemical weapons because we don't need them to beat the rebels".
Now any reasonable person after reading this piece will be convinced that the regime is the culprit for the chemical weapon attack that lead to the death of 1429 people including 426 children, except those who chose not to.
Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Chicago Pulmonary Specialist and President, Syrian American Medical Society