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American doctor gives 'proof of chemical weapon use' to U.S.

April 29th, 2013
05:11 PM ET

By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti, CNN

Syrian-American doctors are obtaining samples from apparent victims of chemical weapon attacks in Syria and giving them to the American government for testing.

On Monday, Syrian-American doctor Zaher Sahloul was near the Syrian border in Turkey, where he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that reports from physicians indicate there had just been another attack. Sahloul believes this is the sixth recent chemical weapons attack Syria.

“We have medical proof,” Dr. Sahloul told Amanpour. “Patients had respiratory and neurological symptoms.” 

Physicians working inside Syria are collecting samples and giving them to Dr. Sahloul ‘s organization, The Syrian American Medical Society.

That group brings the samples to Turkey, and then hands them over to the American Embassy, according to Sahloul.

Physicians in Syria have reported that patients are experiencing shortness of breath, respiratory failures, convulsions and going into comas.

While some patients have died after the apparent chemical weapons attacks, Sahloul said other have escaped death after taking an antidote for nerve gas.

“They don’t have evidence to prove it was sarin gas,” Sahloul said, but he said all of the symptoms are consistent with some type of nerve gas.

The samples the physicians are bringing to the American Embassy in Turkey are of hair, urine, blood and clothing, according to Sahloul.

Last week, after the Pentagon announced it had growing evidence the Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons, Sahloul said his group received a call from the U.S. State Department thanking them for the delivery of the samples.

Syrian hospitals are now erecting decontamination tents outside of hospitals, to shower the victims of the apparent chemical weapon attacks before bringing them in the hospital. Sahloul said they plan to set up these tents in front of  ten hospitals in the areas of Aleppo that are outside the control of the Syrian regime.

READ MORE: Sen. McCain: 'The red line has been crossed in Syria'

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. ngoc tran

    I believe the west, the US will be more than able to support the opposition and civilians in fear of chemical weapons by giving them protective equipments such gas masks etc. I still dont think it is a good idea for US to get involved militarily before more concrete evidence is established.

    April 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  2. zal

    Iraq had WMD's and it justified our invasion and the death of 100s of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq. Now Syria is using chemical weapons so let invade another country based on Syria-Americans handing over evidence to US military. I mean you can't get any more credible than that can you?! Will we ever get to ask about depleted UUranium and phosphorous bobms from US and Israeli governments Ms. Amanpour or is that kind of inquiry reserved for the enemies of the state!?

    April 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  3. jimmy lim

    I fully support US sending in cruise misslies and stealth bunker bombs to target specially Assad's presidential palace. Dont need any boots on the ground or arming the rebels. Once Assad and cronies are gone, the regime will crumble.

    April 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Reply
    • Larold

      And then what?

      April 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  4. n2it

    Nice spin. Deja vu all over again.

    April 29, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  5. lawal

    if care is not taken,The mistake made on iraq will be repeated in syria.America cannot just be invading countries on the bases of false accusations.the syrian government has already made it public that the rebels has used a chemical weapons.

    April 29, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Reply
    • TJ

      You might be right in the case of Iraq. but let me tell you about the Syrian government, 43 years of complete dictatorship. $26 billion dollars is the total Syrian treasury owned by one political party, Al-Baath, the governing party, that is 91% of the country's wealth taken by only 9% of its population. We lived 41 years under the state of emergency, simply because Hafez (Bashar's father) preferred to persecute, prison, execute or exile anyone who did not want to live under his tyranny. And after 41 years, Bashar comes and lifts the state of emergency in a matter of days (very surprising isn't it?) and replaced it with militaristic state. So whatever BS the Syrian government says, its not true. Even the Syrian foreign relations' spokesman which has said before "we're not using chemical weapons" couple of weeks later escaped and defected, his main reason was "I'm done lying". In Summary, I'd be very careful to pick what the Syrian government would say.

      April 30, 2013 at 7:14 am | Reply
  6. H. B.

    There are so many people over there with motives to "prove" the use of chemical weapons, even if none were used, and so many people with motives to claim the proof is manufactured or tainted somehow, that the real question becomes:

    What is truth?

    It comes down the same way domestically. Our warhawks leaped at the concept that chemical weapons were used BY Syria on its people. They don't get very analytical about things that seem to help their agendas.

    I haven't heard in the media any speculation about the rebels having received chemical weapons from an external source – perhaps even people in the U.S. – to use on their OWN people to justify the accusations against the regime. Nor would it surprise me to learn that Israel supplied them.

    The whole thing still comes down to:

    What is truth?

    And until we have rock-solid evidence that PROVES the regime used such weapons on its people, we should not act on any of the assumptions being bandied about.

    So far, from reading the many tales about this, I "smell something foul in Denmark."

    There is a can of worms involved. Perhaps several of them.

    For now, the only thing I'd go for is a no-fly zone. Nothing more, other than getting humanitarian aid to the population – directly, not trusting any of the rebels to do it, because they'd use them for themselves.

    In addition, a doctor may be American of Syrian descent and heritage, but if he's a Muslim, his only REAL loyalty is to Islam – therefore, to the rebels.

    So far, it still comes down to: WHAT IS TRUTH?

    April 30, 2013 at 12:10 am | Reply
    • TJ

      you really think the Syrian government won't use EVERYTHING it has to keep the country under its power? that's the truth, 43 years of dictatorship, 41 years under the state of emergency, for only one political party of 9% of the population to rule massive amounts of existing and potential political and racial parties is insane. The use of chemicals is Syria's last resort, and i believe they reached their last resort

      April 30, 2013 at 7:19 am | Reply
  7. notus

    This can be planted evidence. Who knows where the samples have been obtained. If a pretext is what the US is looking for it is a shame, real big shame. The sad thing is after all this the glorious future for Syria that is being dreamed off will never be achieved.-Just look at the arab spring countries.

    April 30, 2013 at 12:39 am | Reply
  8. Vieri

    for god sake try to do something helpful or keep quiet

    April 30, 2013 at 1:14 am | Reply
  9. jimmy lim

    Obama is not Bush or Cheney or Blair

    April 30, 2013 at 1:38 am | Reply
  10. anna

    mediacal proof? lol. this doctor describes merely symptoms that can be the result of many chemical irritants. and it could have been used by ANYONE, there.

    April 30, 2013 at 5:14 am | Reply
  11. Fred Nerk

    More nonsense reporting by CNN. Amapour has become a spokesperson for the rebels and Sunn extremists. Disgraceful article that seeks to influence policy than report facts. We don't know anything about these doctors or the evidence. It smells rotten. I hope Russia supplies sophisticated SAM to Syria to beat any no fly zone. I find it amusing that the Turks, masters of genocide, are suddenly so moral.

    April 30, 2013 at 5:23 am | Reply
  12. Ken Ford

    The americans is up to something. The real target is Iran. Syria is only a red herring. The Iraqi game plan is on again.

    April 30, 2013 at 6:42 am | Reply
  13. Awabnavi

    Hmmm! American doctors give PROOF of chemical attack. Hmmm! And so soon after Obama visited Israel. Hmmm!

    April 30, 2013 at 6:58 am | Reply
  14. stormyparis

    That's the US for you: make up WMD when it suits them, deny WMDs when it doesn't. All the while, keep claiming it's all about WMDs.
    Just own up to it: it's about oil and money. That's it.

    April 30, 2013 at 8:18 am | Reply
    • wcat929

      Unlike Mr. Sarkozy's decision to use force in LIbya, which was clearly all about his reelection campaign – everyone knows the French like their leaders puff their chests and engage the country in the fantasy that it's still a relevant world power. It would have worked, too, if the people weren't even more fearful they'd have to work beyond 35 hours / week.

      May 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  15. ramesh

    Christiane, How do you know that it was used by the Syrian army by command from the top. It could well have been the rebels, who have all the incentive to create this impression, even if they had to kill a few of their own people. Attestation from Syrian Americans makes it even more likely that vested interest of the rebels may have created this story to now drag US into this war.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • Awabnavi

      There is no need to "drag" the US in. The US is just seeking a "fool proof" excuse to enter the fray and Israel is providing it just that like it did in Iraq. Israel was the first to use the chemical word.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  16. Al Breeck

    Here is WHY we needed to take action earlier just as Senator McCain stated Sunday:
    Human rights violations during the Syrian civil war – Wikipedia,

    Most of which I already have read the horrifying news reports of – 13 year old boys horribly tortured and killed, hospitals turned into torture hells, massacres nearly daily.

    Absolutely no reason exists to believe the monster Assad will not use his large amounts of chemical weapons, if, like Hitler in 1939, he believes the world will back down.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:01 am | Reply
  17. crysis63

    just pure propaganda

    April 30, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  18. gbh

    Yesterday there was another chemical attack in Saraqeb:

    April 30, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
  19. South African

    The picture was good in preparing us that Mandela is not immortal.

    April 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  20. Doubter_9

    Has anybody thought about why this doctor give the samples to the U.S. embassy and not to the U.N. commission? Is it because the U.S. is the policeman of the world or is it because the U.S. who are openly funding the rebel terrorists in Syria want an "evidence" to start an illegal military invasion without the approval of the U.N.

    By the way, the Syrian government was the one who reported the Khan Assal (near Aleppo) chemical weapon incident to the U.N. and blamed the Al-Nusra FSA Al-Qaeda rebels. Syria has officially asked the U.N. to come inside Syria to investigate and find out who gave the chemical weapon to these terrorists. This is a case of a planted evidence by a U.S. or U.S. ally nation that can be used (when the U.S. is ready) to start a war in Syria or to negotiate a political solution with the Russians. The Russians have clearly indicated that they didn't fall for it (i.e. they will veto any U.N. security council action against Syria using this planted "evidence" of Chemical Weapon). The Russians and the Syrian government have warned for over a year now about these kind of scenarios of planting evidences of chemical substances so the U.S. can militarily intervene in Syria especially after the continuous failure of the FSA rebel terrorists to topple the Syrian government for over 2 years now. In other words, this has been planned and is not a coincidence.

    May 1, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply
  21. Beefburger

    Where do you think Iraq's chemical weapons went to?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:16 am | Reply
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    We must appropriate...justify and maximize the truth concerning foreign wars....the us at the world stage............

    May 3, 2013 at 12:42 am | Reply
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