AMMAN: The Syrian regime bombed Douma for a third straight day on Wednesday from the air and ground in what the Civil Defense called “the most violent” bombings yet, as journalists and doctors said they “have no idea why” the rebel-held east Damascus suburb is being pummeled so hard.
While a regime artillery strike Wednesday morning wrought only material damage against an empty Douma school, Tuesday’s air and artillery attack was “the most violent we’ve ever seen,” Mahmoud Adam, spokesman for the Douma Civil Defense Forces, told Syria Direct Wednesday.
“We would wait for at least a three-minute pause in the regime’s bombardment to get our ambulances out, but we never got the chance,” Abu Basil, a Douma-based medical doctor, explained to Syria Direct Wednesday. “At its peak, the bombing went on for a full half hour without a gap of even 30 seconds,” he said.
“It was a virtual parade of bombs, shells and rockets, with some 500 projectiles striking Douma in about two hours, or at a rate of four per minute,” said Mohammed Khabia, a Douma-based media activist.
A regime airstrike against the east Damascus suburb of Douma–one of dozens in a three-day air and artillery campaign dubbed by local activists as “the most violent” since 2011. Photo courtesy: Yusif al-Bustani.
Douma residents say they are perplexed by the fierce intensity of the bombings on their city, 10km northeast of Damascus, which is ruled by rebel faction Jaish al-Islam.
“The bombing itself isn’t new, but the ferocity is, and we don’t know why,” Mahmoud Adam, spokesman for the Douma Civil Defense Forces, told Syria Direct Wednesday.
“There was a rebel advance on the city’s outskirts; the regime perhaps sought to rattle the rebels’ frontline ranks,” Ayman Abu Anas, a member of the Douma Local Coordination Committee (LCC), told Syria Direct Wednesday.
“Other than that, we have no direct knowledge of what caused the strike,” he said.
“The regime perhaps intends to preempt rebel incursions into loyalist suburbs by softening up nearby Douma,” said one Douma media activist, “but it only ended up killing civilians, hitting schools, mosques and homes.”
Frustrated first responders
As the sky rained explosives, Civil Defense first responders struggled to provide aid.
“We faced tremendous difficulties getting our vehicles out to bomb sites; two were immediately disabled in the strike,” Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Adam told Syria Direct over Skype.
Douma’s Civil Defense Forces announced “an increased state of readiness … cancelling any time off” for first responders in a statement on Tuesday, the second day of bombing, adding that their thinning cadre “would not be able to cover the many and far-apart bomb sites, as the regime attack had rendered two vehicles out of service.”
“We urge all citizens to stay in their homes or basements,” read the announcement.
“We won’t be able to cover the many and far-apart bomb sites, as two of our vehicles are currently out of service,” read Tuesday’s Civil Defense Forces statement, urging Douma’s citizens to stay in their homes and basements. Image source: The Syrian Civil Defense Forces in the Douma Countryside.
Regime strikes Tuesday killed 15 people and wounded 100 more, reported the Douma LCC, listing the names of the 15 dead in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“If so many families were not miraculously outside Douma that day, the number of dead would have doubled,” a member of the Douma LCC told Syria Direct Wednesday.
Just one of many victims of the Syrian regime’s air and artillery forces in Douma. Photo courtesy: Douma Revolution.
“If the regime keeps this kind of a bombing up, we’ll be digging mass graves with 10 levels, not five,” said Mahmoud Adam, Douma Civil Defense Forces spokesman, referring to Douma’s new, multi-tiered mass graves dug in the aftermath of the Syrian regime’s August air raids against the Damascus suburb.