Douma, Syria: Remnants of war seen on government-guided tour

World Today

SYRIA-CONFLICT-GHOUTARussian forces patrol damaged buildings in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus on April 16, 2018 during a government-organised media tour after the Syrian army declared that all anti-regime forces have left Eastern Ghouta, following a blistering two month offensive on the rebel enclave. (AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA)

Chemical weapons experts still have not reached Douma, the scene of the alleged chemical attack. According to Russian officials, the fact finding team will be allowed to enter on Wednesday, despite being denied access earlier.

CGTN’s Alaa Ebrahim reports.

Douma was the last rebel-held town near Damascus to fall. The city that has been the heart of the rebellion against the government since 2012, keeps a lot of secrets: a building buried underground to avoid shelling, networks of tunnels stretching for miles, and underground warehouses and hospitals.

But the town’s most haunting secrets are related to the alleged chemical attack on April 7.

“We got several suffocation cases coming in, caused by debris and fires and fumes,” medical student Marwan Jaber said on a government-organized tour. “Many people were staying in basements, and we tried to treat them, but what happened is that we had some activists coming in whom I don’t know, and they spread a rumor that these were gas injuries and chemical injuries. But when we treated them we didn’t find such syndromes.”

The Syrian army announced it regained control over the town on Saturday. Since then, life in Douma has slowly regained some of its normal rhythms. Amid the ruins of this city, people struggle on, having survived one of the worst events in the 7-year civil war.

As the residents start putting their lives back together, recaptured parts of the city reveal the preparations the rebels made, with tunnels, thousands of mortar shells, and elaborate underground hideouts.

The Syrian military said it has now “purified” this region of terrorists. Residents said they are hoping for a lasting peace.

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