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Syrian Boy's Whole Family Dies, And Other Testimony After Reported Chemical Attacks

This boy says he watched his siblings, grandfather and parents die from Wednesday's attack.
This boy says he watched his siblings, grandfather and parents die from Wednesday's attack.
Nuha Shabaan

DAMASCUS - A boy, who appears to be sitting in some sort of makeshift hospital, describes how his entire family was killed early Wednesday morning on an attack in their home in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

Below the video expand=1] (courtesy of c.m.o algota) is a transcript of the child’s account:

“First thing, my grandfather lives upstairs, and we were asleep. The aircraft hit us and the voices were very loud. We woke up all of us, my brother went upstairs to tell my grandpa to come downstairs to escape from the gunpowder and the shrapnel.

They came down and as my brother was coming down he smelled the gunpowder and started to feel pain in his stomach, he started to throw up and was about to die, he started to have difficulty in breathing and died. They smelled the gunpowder smell and laid down on the ground. My grandpa was sitting in front of us and suddenly he laid down and his head hit the ground and he died, his wife was near him and she rolled on the ground also and died, my siblings also died, I was sitting on the sofa away from them, I stayed there.

Q: What did you do? I do not know, I do not know what brought me here.

Q: You could not do anything? I do not know

Q: Didn’t you scream? I started crying, crying and crying, what brought me here

Q: And you fainted and fell on the ground? NO, I DID NOT, I did not,

Q: And now, where is your mom and dad? They are dead.”


Meanwhile, there is also direct testimony from Um Qamar, 53, a housewife from the conservative eastern suburb of Hammouriya, one of the towns reportedly attacked by chemical weapons in an overnight regime assault on Wednesday.

“Before the revolution, we lived together – me, my husband and our two daughters,” says Um Qamar. “We had a good, simple life.”

Today, she lives in a blockaded village with her daughters staying at a relative’s house in Damascus. They communicate by phone but cannot see each other. Um Qamar describes the chaotic scene in her town to Nuha Shabaan in the hours following the attack.

Q: Describe what happened to you early Wednesday morning.

Around 3am there was violent bombardment around the neighborhood. We did not know where it was exactly. I said to myself that it might be the rebels fighting the security forces. I tried to sleep again, then after awhile woke up to people screaming. We started to breathe in something strange in the air coming from the orchards.

People started to put pieces of fabric on their noses and mouths, because they got news that it was a chemical gas attack. In the beginning, the smell was a bit lighter and the young men started to call women and children to go down to the basements and shelters and they closed all the open windows and escape holes.

I ran with my husband and other people from the town. They put us in a shelter and closed the doors, windows, and all holes not to make the gas reach us. The smell started to become stronger.

Most people with respiratory diseases died. The scene of crying and choking were horrifying. We stayed in the shelter around 24 hours with no water and food. After that the men brought us some food and water. Some of those who did not die from the smell died because of the low oxygen in the shelter.

After we get out of the shelter, we saw things that you can't imagine. We heard about more than 3,000 casualties only in Hammouriya, most of whom were women and children. The death toll increased gradually. I went with my husband to the medical center. My husband felt so tired because of the huge amount of people. He started to breathe heavily and there was shortage in all types of medicine. Today we have a curfew.

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An End To Venezuela Sanctions? The Lula Factor In Biden's Democratization Gamble

The Biden administration's exploration to lift sanctions on Venezuela, hoping to gently push its regime back on the path of democracy, might have taken its cue from Brazilian President Lula's calls to stop demonizing Venezuela.

Photo of a man driving a motorbike past a wall with a mural depicting former President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela

Driving past a Chavez mural in Caracas, Venezuela

Leopoldo Villar Borda


BOGOTÁ — Reports last month that U.S. President Joe Biden's apparent decision to unblock billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets, frozen since 2015 as part of the United States' sanctions on the Venezuelan regime, could be the first of many pieces to fall in a domino effect that could help end the decades-long Venezuelan deadlock.

It may move the next piece — the renewal of conversations in Mexico between the Venezuelan government and opposition — before pushing over other obstacles to elections due in 2024 and to Venezuela's return into the community of American states.

I don't think I'm being naïve in anticipating developments that would lead to a new narrative around Venezuela, very different to the one criticized by Brazil's president, Lula da Silva. He told a regional summit in Brasilia in June that there were prejudices about Venezuela — and I dare say he wasn't entirely wrong, based on the things I hear from a Venezuelan friend who lives in Bogotá but travels frequently home.

My friend insists his country's recent history is not quite as depicted in the foreign press. The price of basic goods found in a food market are much the same as those in Bogotá, he says.

He goes to the theater when he visits Caracas, eats in restaurants and strolls in parks and squares. There are new building works, he says. He uses the Caracas metro and insists its trains and stations are clean — showing me pictures on his cellphone to prove it.

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