'I woke to missiles streaking across the sky of Damascus'

World

'I woke to missiles streaking across the sky of Damascus'

A journalist describes how an air strike turned a quiet Syrian suburb into a chaotic nightmare

Danny Makki

This wasn’t the sound of light artillery shelling against remaining rebel enclaves in Damascus that you usually hear. This was something quite different.
I awoke at about 4.30am to a series of deafening thuds that  shook the ground in Qudsaya, a normally quiet suburb in west Damascus. From the outset it was clear this was a US-led strike against Syria and quite unlike anything we had previously heard or seen.
The initial surprise was followed by panic. As people heard the missiles across the capital we knew these were the missile strikes we had all been anticipating.A volley of more than 13 rockets sounded in the distance, along with the fierce racket of anti-aircraft fire from the air defence base nearby. The crackle of Shelka anti-aircraft fire was followed by another round of rockets.
The initial wave of missiles that lit up the pitch-black Damascus skyline had landed on the military research facility of Barzeh, east of the capital. Mezzeh military airport in the western centre of Damascus was also hit.As I hurried towards my computer, the phone began to ring with anxious family members across Damascus calling for news. I told them it was cruise missiles and to stay inside and ride it out.It was clear that all the international talk had translated into action, and the strikes weren’t over just yet. After a few minutes another batch of missiles and bombs landed nearby, this time too close for comfort.
I edged across the balcony from where, in the distance, I could see the Qasioun mountain through the red mist of burning gunpowder hanging in the air.We were only 30 minutes into an almost hour-long bombardment. Moments later a huge explosion forced me and three family members back into the house. The balcony wasn’t safe.
A stone’s throw away is the research complex of Jamraya, targeted by Israel in 2014, and my first thought was that this research facility had been hit. I clearly heard more than 40 different missiles in the one-hour barrage.
The attacks were clearly not symbolic, but limited to three main sites in Damascus, one in Hama and some in Homs.
For the first time in this seven-year-long war, the capital and bedrock of the Assad government had been hit.
– © The Daily Telegraph
• Danny Makki is a British-Syrian journalist who works between London and DamascusBombed buildings were empty
International inspectors began work on Sunday at the site near Damascus of an alleged chemical attack that prompted an unprecedented wave of Western strikes against Syria’s regime.
US, French and British missiles destroyed sites suspected of hosting chemical arms development and storage facilities, but the buildings were mostly empty and the Western trio swiftly reverted to its diplomatic efforts.
Washington trumpeted the total success of the biggest international attack on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but both Damascus and Syria’s opposition rubbished its impact.
– AFP

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