Hamish de Bretton-Gordon OBE




A campaign to protect Syrian villagers from chemical weapons has begun, several months after chlorine gas attacks carried out by President Bashar Assad's regime were exposed.

A group of 32 doctors and nurses gathered on the Syrian-Turkish border to start training. The activists hope to supply a network inside Syria with life-saving skills and equipment.

The campaign has been organized by Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former colonel and chemical weapons specialist.

Aligned with the Manchester-based charity Syria Relief, he returned to the border this week to help provide support for frontlien towns threatened by gas from the Damascus regime and, potentially, Islamic State. The latest chemical attack took place just a week ago, in Kfar Zita.

Under a disarmament pact in August 2013, Syria greed to hand over chemical weapons. However John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, confirmed Thursday that Assad had broken the terms of the deal.

"Everybody thinks that Assad has given up his chemical weapons, so what is the problem?" de Bretton-Gordon said. "But we have proved he has very deadly alternatives that he can drop in a barrel over homes and towns. Not only that but (Islamic State) has seized chemicals and there are reports it is experimenting with loading these in rockets against its enemies." He has set up sessions in a conference room of a former duty outlet and this week passed on lessons learned in the trenches of Flanders.

"The first rule is always know where the wind is coming from and move away and to high ground," he said. "If you get a taste of the gas and have nothing else, stop and pee in your socks. The urine will act as a filter for breathing."

Syria Relief has committed to supplying the equipment kits to other parts of Syria.

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