August 19, 2022

Demand justice for victims of chemical attacks

My name is Souha and nine years ago on August 21st 2013, while I was volunteering as a nurse at the field hospital in Ghouta, I helped respond to the Syrian regime’s most deadly chemical attack. In the early morning hours the regime hit three locations in Eastern Ghouta and one in Western Ghouta with the internationally prohibited sarin gas. Our medical point was small and under-equipped and we desperately lacked doctors. We didn’t even know how to respond to chemical attacks, but we performed CPR and used coke, coal and water – everything we could find – to wash the bodies of suffocating people throughout the night.

It was the most horrific day of my life. 1,144 people were murdered, including my own mother, my cousin, my friend and her entire family. A part of my heart died there.

Yet nine years on, justice has not been served for this terrible crime and the Syrian regime enjoys complete impunity. Moreover, witnesses like me are subjected to life-threatening intimidation and smears when we tell the truth.

In 2018, years after the attack, the regime’s intelligence forces raided my house in Damascus and I was beaten in front of my daughters. They arrested me and demanded that I lie on Syrian state TV and say that I, along with others, had staged and fabricated the Ghouta chemical attack footage. When I refused, I was brutally tortured and detained for eleven months. I was lucky to have survived, but it made me even more determined to tell the truth.

I had to leave Syria for my own safety, but before I left I wanted to visit my mother’s grave. To my horror, I couldn’t find it. The regime had excavated all of the graves of the victims of the attack and flattened the whole area. Not only has Assad denied us our basic right to mourn our loved ones, but he has destroyed critical evidence of this horrific crime.

My experience is just one of many examples of witness intimidation and the regime’s efforts to deny its crimes and erase evidence of chemical attacks. Assad’s forces have carried out at least 217 chemical attacks, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR). The Syria Campaign’s report Deadly Disinformation reveals how online conspiracy theorists, sometimes aided or inspired by the regime’s Russian ally, have deliberately spread disinformation to deny and create confusion and doubt about what happened during such attacks. [1]

Those of us who did survive the chemical attacks are still plagued by our memories of these massacres, but our torment pushes many of us to keep fighting for justice. We are filled with rage and we will not allow the regime’s lies to obscure the truth and the evidence about the tragic murder of our loved ones. Our fight for justice has just begun and it is one that we are not willing to lose.

In solidarity,


Sign the petition to demand that social media companies and policy makers protect the truth – and stop the systemic spread of disinformation about chemical attacks.

Do Not Suffocate Truth is a campaign by Syrian witnesses and survivors, like Souha, which aims to preserve the memory of chemical weapons attacks and demand justice for victims. They launched the “Syrian Truth Jasmine” initiative to distribute 5,000 pins around the world to spread awareness about chemical attacks in Syria. Take further action with their list of “Ten Things to Support the Truth”.

And donate to The White Helmets, whose work as first responders and witnesses is crucial to documenting chemical attacks and demanding accountability

[1] Read the report, ‘Deadly Disinformation: How online conspiracies about Syria cause real-world harm’: