Nowhere to Hide

The Story of Chemical Warfare in Syria

A Podcast by Tobias Schneider, Karam Shoumali, Inji El Bakry, Eliza Apperly & Benjamin Nash

The Assad regime’s systematic use of chemical weapons in Syria is one of the most heinous crimes in modern history. Over the past four years, our research team at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin has been digging into the evidence around these toxic attacks, which have claimed the lives of almost two thousand people and left thousands more physically and psychologically scarred. 

Not only did the Syrian government poison its own people – it also defied the norms that underpin our global community. Chemical weapons are prohibited under international law. Assad’s flagrant crimes in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and across the country have raised profound questions about the future of war and peace. And they have left Syrians with a momentous mission for accountability and justice.

To better understand how and why these weapons were used – and the devastating impact they had – we interviewed survivors, eyewitnesses, doctors, nurses, and first responders. We tracked down Syrian revolutionaries and defectors from the Assad regime. We spoke to journalists who reported from the frontlines, lawyers piecing together evidence, and investigators and diplomats who found themselves amid some of the most difficult negotiations and missions of their careers.

The Nowhere to Hide podcast shares this witness testimony for the first time. From the horror of the frontlines to the boardrooms of the United Nations, from field hospitals in Damascus to courtrooms across Europe, we trace the individual actions, decisions and experiences of those who came closest to these war crimes. This is the story of their struggle – for survival, truth and justice. 

The Episodes

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A bright green gas cloud rises up from a collection of concrete buildings – a Syrian town that has been attacked with chemical weapons.
Trailer
2 min

Nowhere to Hide will launch on May 25. The seven-part series traces the actions, decisions and experiences of individuals who came close to chemical attacks in Syria.

Two exhausted men, both journalists on a mission to smuggle chemical samples out of Syria, approach a border post in the middle of a desert.
Episode 1
37 min

As the Syrian revolution descends into a bloody civil war, French war journalist Laurent Van der Stockt reaches a besieged pocket outside Damascus, where he finds rebels and local doctors battling the latest horror from the arsenal of Bashar Al-Assad.

A nurse and a physician, wearing serious expressions, look at each other against the background of a chaotic scene in a makeshift hospital. Some patients wear oxygen masks, others are being treated with injections.
Episode 2
30 min

Amid growing reports of chemical warfare in Syria, medical student Hussam Nahhas risks his life to prepare doctors, nurses and civilians for the worst. In France, Laurent Van der Stockt finally receives the results of his toxic samples.

Against the backdrop of a destroyed town, a Syrian man is being questioned by United Nations investigators wearing gas masks.
Episode 3
34 min

Following a deadly chemical attack on eastern Ghouta in August 2013, UN investigator Angela Kane and her team set out to verify the use of poisonous chemical agents in the Syrian city. Around the world, people wait to see what they will find.

Against the backdrop of a storage facility housing large containers filled with chemicals, a Syrian army general and international inspectors prepare the movement of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
Episode 4
37 min

After the devastating Ghouta attack, calls for an international intervention to halt war crimes in Syria grow louder. In Geneva, the US and Russia strike a deal to destroy the Assad regime’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Against the backdrop of a cityscape in Turkey, two men – who are there to test samples for traces of the chemical chlorine – are being filmed by a male journalist while a woman stands nearby.
Episode 5
34 min

With international disarmament teams busy dismantling Syria’s declared chemical arsenal, the Assad regime turns to an insidious new weapon: chlorine. Hussam Nahhas and colleagues embark on a perilous journey to document these latest crimes, which impact Syrian women in particular.

Against the backdrop of destroyed buildings and a deserted street, a bright red warning sign with a skull on it leans against a rock to warn of  lingering toxic substances after a chemical attack.
Episode 6
33 min

As Russia enters the Syrian war on the side of Assad, Moscow opens up a new front: a state-sponsored disinformation machine to whitewash the regime’s crimes. In spite of the disarmament deal, another large-scale chemical attack reveals a grim truth: Assad has retained a secret stockpile.

This episode will air on 2022-07-06

A bright green gas cloud rises up from a collection of concrete buildings – a Syrian town that has been attacked with chemical weapons.
Upcoming: Episode 7


Trailer

Nowhere to Hide will launch on May 25. The seven-part series traces the actions, decisions and experiences of individuals who came close to chemical attacks in Syria.

Duration: 01:53
Published: 2022-05-20
A bright green gas cloud rises up from a collection of concrete buildings – a Syrian town that has been attacked with chemical weapons.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Episode 1: A Backpack of Evidence

As the Syrian revolution descends into a bloody civil war, French war journalist Laurent Van der Stockt reaches a besieged pocket outside Damascus, where he finds rebels and local doctors battling the latest horror from the arsenal of Bashar Al-Assad.

Duration: 36:39
Published: 2022-05-25
Two exhausted men, both journalists on a mission to smuggle chemical samples out of Syria, approach a border post in the middle of a desert.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Episode 2: Chemical Hazim

Amid growing reports of chemical warfare in Syria, medical student Hussam Nahhas risks his life to prepare doctors, nurses and civilians for the worst. In France, Laurent Van der Stockt finally receives the results of his toxic samples.

Duration: 30:21
Published: 2022-06-01
A nurse and a physician, wearing serious expressions, look at each other against the background of a chaotic scene in a makeshift hospital. Some patients wear oxygen masks, others are being treated with injections.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Episode 3: The World Is Watching

Following a deadly chemical attack on eastern Ghouta in August 2013, UN investigator Angela Kane and her team set out to verify the use of poisonous chemical agents in the Syrian city. Around the world, people wait to see what they will find.

Duration: 33:47
Published: 2022-06-08
Against the backdrop of a destroyed town, a Syrian man is being questioned by United Nations investigators wearing gas masks.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Episode 4: A Toxic Mess

After the devastating Ghouta attack, calls for an international intervention to halt war crimes in Syria grow louder. In Geneva, the US and Russia strike a deal to destroy the Assad regime’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Duration: 36:47
Published: 2022-06-17
Against the backdrop of a storage facility housing large containers filled with chemicals, a Syrian army general and international inspectors prepare the movement of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Episode 5: Rooftop Chemistry

With international disarmament teams busy dismantling Syria’s declared chemical arsenal, the Assad regime turns to an insidious new weapon: chlorine. Hussam Nahhas and colleagues embark on a perilous journey to document these latest crimes, which impact Syrian women in particular.

Duration: 34:17
Published: 2022-06-22
Against the backdrop of a cityscape in Turkey, two men – who are there to test samples for traces of the chemical chlorine – are being filmed by a male journalist while a woman stands nearby.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Episode 6: Muddied Waters

As Russia enters the Syrian war on the side of Assad, Moscow opens up a new front: a state-sponsored disinformation machine to whitewash the regime’s crimes. In spite of the disarmament deal, another large-scale chemical attack reveals a grim truth: Assad has retained a secret stockpile.

Duration: 33:00
Published: 2022-06-30
Against the backdrop of destroyed buildings and a deserted street, a bright red warning sign with a skull on it leans against a rock to warn of  lingering toxic substances after a chemical attack.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple
 
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