Douma residents still tramautized
DOUMA, Syria — Two days after Syrian troops declared the town of Douma, near the capital Damascus, liberated from rebel fighters and 10 days since a suspected chemical attack, a tour on Monday revealed widespread destruction and traumatized residents who recalled months spent cowering in crowded underground shelters infested with lice, with barely any food or water.
Except for the Russian and Syrian troops patrolling the streets, few people could be seen in Douma, the majority of its residents now displaced to rebel-held areas to the north.
The main hospital, courthouse and municipal buildings were largely reduced to rubble, while the nearby Grand Mosque, famed for its towering arches, white dome and majestic palm trees was riddled with bullet and shell holes — testimony to the intense government assault the town was subjected to since being seized by the rebels six years ago.
Douma was one of the first areas to rise up against President Bashar Assad’s government and until a few weeks ago it was a major threat to his seat of power in Damascus, as rebels pelted it with shells, disrupting normal life. On Saturday, Syrian government forces entered Douma for the first time since 2012, marking the biggest victory for Assad’s forces since the conflict began in 2011.
On Monday, the few remaining residents were able to move around safely for the first time in months following the crushing government offensive and a yearslong siege, tightened even further last year, that had starved the town, once the bread basket of the capital, of food, medical supplies and other essentials.
Syrian authorities distribute bread, vegetables and pasta to residents of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, on Monday. Two days after Syrian troops declared Douma liberated from opposition fighters, a tour in...