‘There was panic. It was the strike we had all been an­tic­i­pat­ing’

The Sunday Telegraph - - Syria Strikes - By Danny Makki

This wasn’t the usual sound of light ar­tillery shelling against re­main­ing rebel en­claves in Damascus which you of­ten hear. This was some­thing quite dif­fer­ent. I awoke at around 4.30am to a se­ries of deaf­en­ing thuds which shook the ground in Qud­saya, a nor­mally quiet sub­urb in west Damascus.

From the out­set it was clear that this was a US-led strike against Syria; quite un­like any­thing we had pre­vi­ously heard or seen.

There was ini­tial sur­prise and panic. As peo­ple heard the blasts across the cap­i­tal we knew these were the missile strikes we had all been an­tic­i­pat­ing.

A vol­ley of more than 13 rock­ets went off in the dis­tance, along with the fierce sound of anti-air­craft fire from the air de­fence base nearby. The crackle of Shilka anti-air­craft fire was fol­lowed by an­other wave of rock­ets.

The ini­tial wave of mis­siles which lit up the pitch black Damascus sky­line had landed on the mil­i­tary re­search fa­cil­ity y of Barzeh, east of the cap­i­tal. p 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 from across Damascus call­ing for news. I told them they were just cruise mis­siles and urged them 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 de­lay of sev­eral 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 Qa­sioun moun­tain through the red mist of burn­ing ex­plo­sives hang­ing in the air.

We were only 30 min­utes into an al­most hour-long bom­bard­ment. Mo­ments later a huge ex­plo­sion forced me and three mem­bers of my fam­ily 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 fa­cil­ity had been hit.

I clearly heard more than 40 dif­fer­ent mis­siles in a bar­rage that lasted for the greater part of an hour.

Syr­ian state me­dia re­ported the strikes but didn’t pro­vide any clue as to the lo­ca­tions.

The at­tacks in the early hours of yes­ter­day evening were clearly not sym­bolic, but lim­ited to three main sites in Damascus, one in Hama, and some in Homs.

For the first time in war that has raged for seven years, the cap­i­tal and bedrock of the As­sad gov­ern­ment had been hit.

‘A huge ex­plo­sion forced me and three fam­ily mem­bers back into the house. The bal­cony wasn’t safe’

Danny y Makki is a Bri­tish-Syr­ian y jour­nal­ist who works be­tween Lon­don and Damascus

A Syr­ian woman car­ries a portrait of Bashar al-As­sad, be­low, dur­ing a protest against the air strikes in Umayyad Square in Damascus

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