Syr­ian town

Douma res­i­dents still tra­ma­u­tized

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

AP photo

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...

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