Amnesty International has accused the government of Sudan of using chemical weapons against women and children in Darfur.
The report claims that at least 30 chemical attacks have taken place since the first of the year in the Jebel Marra region, a remote and inaccessible part of the country.
The descriptions in the report are horrific, according to NBC News:
The bombs came from the sky and exploded, discharging dark smoke. The smell was terrible — “like rotten eggs” — and the vapor changed to a lighter color.
Some people died right away. Those who survived fell ill almost immediately: vomiting, coughing and struggling to breathe. Over time, many broke out in green or white blisters. Others felt their skin slowly harden, then fall off.
“When the bomb exploded I inhaled the poisonous air, which I am smelling even now,” one survivor said — cutting an interview short because he was in too much pain to speak.
Sudan’s government categorically denies the allegations:
Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed told NBC News the report was “fabricated,” “completely flawed” and an attempt to “tarnish the image” of his country.
“No one from Amnesty International has been to the area to collect evidence,” he said, questioning where the images used came from.
“We have to caution against such unfounded accusations which led to the invasion of Iraq,” he added. “Categorically with clear conscience we can say that no chemical weapons were used.”
NBC News has not independently verified the materials contained in the report.
While it’s true that AI has been unable to gain access to the region, they base the report on eyewitness accounts, satellite images, and expert analysis by chemical weapons experts.
One of the experts said that, when taken together, the eyewitnesses’ accounts, photos, and symptom analysis offer enough information to make him “very certain” chemical agents “of some sort” were used.
“The kinds of injuries that we’ve seen and the explanations for what people saw at the source of the attack could not be explained simply as a result of the explosive effects of either conventional or incendiary munitions,” Dr. Keith B. Ward explained.
The experts determined the evidence suggested exposure to a class of chemical weapons known as vesicants — or blister agents — such as sulfur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard. They also said it was possible more than one chemical was in use or that chemical agents had been mixed together.
However, exact identification would require collecting environmental and physiological samples — which Amnesty said is impossible under current circumstances but must be allowed to take place.
These attacks by Sudan on Darfur are the direct result of President Obama’s cowardice in not making good on his threats to Syria’s President Assad to punish him for crossing his “red line” of using chemical weapons on civilians. There will be no cost to any country that wishes to use chemical weapons unless the United States takes it upon itself to take actions that will deter WMD attacks.
In retrospect, the president’s declaration of a red line was foolhardy. He ultimately refused to go through with retaliatory air strikes because of opposition from Congress and the American people, as well as the very real possibility of the U.S. being drawn further into the Syrian quagmire.
Those are all good reasons for not ordering air strikes — except the president had given his word that consequences would ensue if Assad dared use chemical weapons again on his people. We see now that the damage done by his failure to act is at least equal to any damage done if he had gone through with it. The difference being that the credibility of a U.S. president is shot.
With all the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, we should expect more atrocities of this sort as the WMD demons have been let loose upon the world because an American president didn’t have the nerve to make good on his word.