'Napalm' attack: might earlier disclosure have changed vote?
BBC's film of 'Napalm-like' attack on Syrian playground was screened when Commons was already sitting
AN incendiary bomb dropped on a school playground in Syria killed ten pupils and left scores more with "Napalm-like burns" on their bodies, according to a report by a BBC camera crew at the scene.
Footage of the horrific incident in northern Syria was broadcast by the BBC last night just before MPs voted down a motion designed to pave the way for military intervention against the Assad regime.
Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway were in Syria filming a report for BBC Panorama when they were shown video footage of the attack. They interviewed victims and witnesses who said they saw a military jet flying overhead repeatedly as if looking for a target.
The aircraft dropped a "device", the witnesses said, and there was "a low explosion, followed by columns of fire and smoke".
In his report, Pannell said it was unclear what was in the bomb, but the injuries sustained by victims suggest it was similar to Napalm, famously used by the Americans in the Vietnam war, or Thermite, a compound used in incendiary bombs in World War II. Many of the victims were caked in a white substance and had burns to more than 50 per cent of their bodies.
The headmaster of the school, who did not want to be named, said: "This was the most horrific thing. There is nothing worse than watching someone die right in front of you. People were burning and people were running, but where to? It's not safe anywhere."
A British doctor, Dr Rola, who is working in the area with the charity Hand In Hand, confirmed the headmaster's account after treating some of the victims.
She told The Guardian: "It is just absolute chaos and carnage here. We have had a massive influx of what looks like serious burns, seems like it must be some sort of, not really sure, maybe napalm, something similar to that. But obviously within the chaos of the situation it is very difficult to know exactly what is going on."
The graphic images prompted a strong response on social media where one user said the attack was evidence the Syrian president was likely to "seize on our paralysis" by launching more attacks using banned weapons.
Mark Hookham of the Sunday Times tweeted: "Would Cameron have lost the vote if MPs had seen the BBC's horrific report of a Napalm-like bomb dropped on a playground?"
Meanwhile, former Tory MP Louise Mensch responded to a tweet that the BBC report proved the UK could "not hang around with this [intervention]" by writing: "Hang around is all we're going to do and it is on Miliband's head". ·