On March 25, an orthopedic surgeon named Ali Darwish was operating on a patient in a suburb of Hama, Syria, when two barrel bombs were dropped at the entrance of the underground hospital where he was working. Soon, a strong smell of chlorine spread throughout the hospital. The underground rooms, built to protect patients and medical personnel from aerial attacks, became de facto gas chambers.

As patients and staff workers fled, Dr. Darwish refused to leave his patient on the operating table. Without even minimal protective equipment, Dr. Darwish collapsed. By the time he was taken out of the hospital it was too late. He died shortly afterward from severe lung injury. Thirteen other medical personnel, along with 18 patients, were severely hurt in that attack.

Since the beginning of Syria’s conflict in 2011, more than 14,000 people have been subjected to chemical weapons attacks, and more than 1,500 have died as a result, according to research by my group, the Syrian American Medical Society.

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