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Casualties continue to mount in Syria's eastern Ghouta

The situation in the besieged eastern Ghouta area continues to deteriorate with shortages of medical supplies, the regime shelling on medical facilities and use of low concentration doses of chlorine.

EASTERN GHOUTA, Syria — Dr. Hamza, who declined to provide his last name for safety reasons, is exhausted. He has been sleeping for four or five hours a day over the past 10 weeks. Speaking to Al-Monitor, he said, “The medical supplies from the last United Nations convoy on March 5 were very limited. They got stuck in Douma because the road has been cut off from the rest of Ghouta.” Thirteen dialysis patients are being treated at the medical center where he works and where only 50 kits remain for hemodialysis. There are major shortages in surgical supplies and anesthesia. According to Dr. Basel Termanini, the vice president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the health service capacity in Ghouta today is, at best, at 40%.

SAMS and other activists reported chlorine gas attacks on the besieged population of eastern Ghouta. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said March 11, “It would be very unwise for them [Syrian government forces] to use weaponized gas,” while specifically mentioning that “there’s an awful lot of reports about chlorine gas use or of symptoms that could be resulting from it.” On the face of it, the statement might be interpreted as a warning against the use of chlorine and possibly triggering a US military response. Yet practically, an intervention is highly unlikely, unless chemical weapons were to be used by the Syrian regime.

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