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Victims Of Syria Chemical Attacks Seek Justice

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Victims of chemical attacks in Syria call for taking action against Assad

Civilians from Syria’s northern city of Aleppo have called for bringing Bashar al-Assad to justice for using chemical weapons against opponents in the war-torn country.

Last month, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Assad regime had carried out "coordinated chemical attacks" in opposition-held parts of Aleppo between November 17 and December 13, 2016. 

Civilians were evacuated from the besieged opposition-held parts of eastern Aleppo in December. 

Anadolu Agency spoke to witnesses who contributed to the HRW’s report. 

“We want human rights organizations and the UN to immediately take steps to stop the Assad regime from the killings that have been going on for the past six years,” Osman al-Khidr, 34, a civilian from Aleppo, told Anadolu Agency. 

“We want Assad to be tried,” he said. 

According to al-Khidr, regime forces used chemical weapons in bombing Tarik al-Bab district in eastern Aleppo on November 19, 2016. 

“We have an independent rights group. As a right group, we gather evidence over every incident in Syria and combine them. God willing, the files will reach the International Criminal Court and the convicts would be tried,” he said. 

Mujahid Abu Jud, an Aleppean victim of regime chlorine attack on Dahrat Awwad district on November 22, 2016, called for trying Assad for war crimes. 

“Instead of trying Assad, the UN overlooked chemical attacks,” Abu Jud, 24, told Anadolu Agency. 

He asserted that the Assad regime continues to use chemical weapons intensively against opposition-held areas. 

Firas Badawi, 37, a journalist from eastern Aleppo, said he was a victim of a chemical attack carried out by regime forces in al-Katirji district on November 28, 2016. 

Badawi lamented that the world has ignored the HRW report about regime chemical attacks in eastern Aleppo despite efforts done in gathering evidence. 

“Silence of the international community encourages Assad to continue attacks against his people,” Badawi said. 

For his part, Abdulkadir Mando, the director of the Turkey-based Syria Justice Institute, called for forcing Assad to stop his violations of international law. 

“The international community should pressure the Assad regime to stop his violations,” he said. 

Last year, a UN-appointed investigation panel found that chemical weapons were used by regime forces and opposition fighters in 2014 and 2015. However, no actionable steps were taken. 

Chlorine gas is one of several elements and compounds used in devastating chemical attacks, outlawed by international treaties. High level of exposure to the gas can cause suffocation as the chemical injuries in the pulmonary airways result in severe fluid buildup in the lungs, with children and seniors particularly vulnerable. 

The war for Aleppo was all but over in late December of last year when Russia and Turkey helped broker a cease-fire deal that included the evacuation of thousands of civilians and opposition fighters from the city. 

The six-year Syrian war has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and displaced millions of people, leaving the country in ruins.

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