"I woke up to find a man holding me and yelling that I was alive," reports Kassem Eid, who was gassed on August 13, 2013, in Bashar al-Assad's first major sarin attack.
Now he lives in Berlin and is working on a memoir about the bombings, gas attack, and further bombings of his hometown in Syria. An excerpt of his book appears in today's New York Times Sunday Review.
It's accompanied by a chilling photo: bodies of children and a baby wrapped in white, like the photos released last week, but this one is from 2013.
The time line before and after the attack speaks volumes about the Assad regime's cruelty.
- early 2011 - Kassem Eid was in college in Homs, Syria, studying to be a translator from Arabic to English.
- March 18, 2011 - Kassam was at home, taking part in the first anti-government demonstration in his hometown, Moadhamiyeh, a suburb of Damascus with a population of 80,000. The demonstration occurred a few months into what we called "the Arab spring."
- Hours later - "...regime forces attacked, shooting and arresting protestors."
- June 2012 - Assad started a siege of Moadhamiyeh, hoping to starve out the rebelling residents," bombing,shelling and blocking food and medical supplies. People fled. About 10,000 were trapped in the town.
- Summer 2013 - "I had seen children and infants starve to death. Several friends who tried to escape the town were captured, tortured, and killed."
- August 21, 2013 - Kassam was living with two friends in an abandoned apartment when the gas attack occurred. They tried to help others who were dying: "Dozens of men, women, and children writhed on the ground."
- Later that day in a field hospital - "The regime forces began firing at us with tank shellsl, mortars and heavy artillery. A desperate effort to evacuate the hospital began."
- Still later on the front line of the attack - "I fired my first bullet in defense of my home againsts the people who had dropped poison on us."