EXCLUSIVE: Syrian chemical attack witness speaks out
Osama Nassar, a young engineer and father of one, joined Syria’s pro-democracy uprising early on. Because of this he had to go into hiding, and has moved between various safe houses ever since. He’s only able to see his wife and daughter occasionally.
Nassar is currently in Ghouta, the city where last week’s horrific chemical weapons attacks occurred. Metro reached him there.
Metro: You’re hiding in Ghouta, where the chemical attacks took place. Can you describe the situation?
Nassar: We woke up because of explosions. The shelling was very hard. Then I saw the dead people. ‘Bad’ is not an adequate word to describe the situation. Never in my life have I seen so many dead people. I have no doubt that the regime was behind the attacks. It’s nonsense to accuse anyone else.
Do you think the planned airstrikes against Syria are a good idea?
I think the West is after its own interests. Western leaders don’t care about the Syrian people or about saving lives. We’ve been slaughtered for two and a half years now, and we were being slaughtered even before the revolution, too. The West could have done something for two years. Now it’s trying to control the violence rather than stopping it. Apparently it takes chemical weapons for them to act. So “physical weapons” are fine?
How do ordinary people, esp. democracy supporters like you, feel about Assad now? What should happen to him?
I believe in justice. Nothing will bring back the lives of our kids and beloved. I wish we could bring Assad and his assistants to trial in a fair court. And helping us do so is the least the West can do for us. And they’re able to do it.
But the West worries that there isn’t anyone who can replace him as leader…
He’s not the only guy in the country. There are 40 million other Syrians. I think for the period after Assad there should be a committee, like a council of wise men and women. One of their jobs should be to prepare for elections. Meanwhile, the revolution will go on peacefully, so the council will be monitored by the people of the revolution.
Democracy supporters like you are in a tough spot because so much of the opposition to Assad comes from militants. Do you feel that militants have hijacked your cause? How should the West deal with them?
We’ll keep struggling. Assad will leave sooner or later. We’re fighting for freedom, dignity and justice, and we won’t quit until we have it. Speaking of the West, it can stop arming those militants by asking the “proxy” countries not to arm them.
Russia is Assad’s strongest supporter. If you could tell the Russian government something, what would you say?
I’d advise them to start looking for another agent in the region. And they have to think about policy. Their policy kills innocent people. They have to find a way that fulfills their interests without bloodshed.
Do you think the planned airstrikes, while tragic, could be good because they’ll bring a resolution to the conflict?
If the airstrikes happen, they’d justify further violence. It has been tried in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.