Around the same time that the White House announced that it believe the Assad regime had crossed the "red line" President Obama set months ago, some troubling videos of alleged victims of a chemical attack made their way around the web. Originally uploaded to a British-trained doctor's Facebook page, the most troubling of them all shows several young men foaming at the mouth and others with tubes down their through. There appear to be some series of burns or lesions on the skin of a few victims of Assad loyalists' April 13 assault on Aleppo. It's grainy, shaky and only 30-seconds-long, but it's disturbing. The video is also embedded at the bottom of this post. Watch at your own risk. It's graphic.
This is hardly the first time we've seen a video of purported chemical weapons use. They've been popping up here and there for at least the past six months, while the Assad regime continued to deny that they were using chemical weapons. As early as January of this year, after Obama had drawn his red line, the State Department was receiving reports of chemical weapons use. Meanwhile, more videos came out, some of which might have served as part of the evidence that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mentioned on Thursday morning when he announced that the U.S., like Israel intelligence did this week, believed that the Assad regime was using chemical weapons.
It is tough to tell what's real and what's not on YouTube. Accordingly some have labelled the videos of potential victims as fakes, a way to stir up support and possibly resources for the rebels. Maybe some are. But there are a lot of these videos at this point. The New York Times pulled together a series of them on The Lead and adds some handy translations of the dialogue in the video, including this rather compelling monologue from one of the doctors. "We don't want relief efforts," he said. "If you're not capable of just sending us medicine, you will be held accountable by God."
Now that we've seen the suffering and heard the cry for help, will the U.S. swoop in to the rescue like we always do (or whatever)? Probably not.
This video is graphic: