Regime warplanes targeted the town of Arbin in East Ghouta on Wednesday, killing six and trapping others under the mounds of rubble.
Head, Siraj Douma, the alias of a spokesman for the Civil Defense in the Damascus countryside, talks to Ghalia Mukhalati about how the “White Helmets” dealt with the attack’s aftermath and how regime bombings in the area have become a depressingly familiar sight.
Q: What did the Civil Defense do at the site of the attack? Can you describe it to us?
“We extracted the martyrs’ bodies and some of the wounded from under the rubble—with great difficulty, because of a lack of necessary equipment.
I remember that a little boy about eight years old was crying out of fear and anxiety, struck by the terror of the destruction, searching for his family among the destroyed buildings and rubble. After he learned that his family survived, I remember how hope returned to his eyes, and the tears of happiness on his face.”
Q: What shorts of shortages does the Civil Defence suffer from in Ghouta?
“There’s only one piece of machinery in Ghouta, which digs out the ruins and raises it to search for bodies. It needs repair—to begin with, it’s not our property but a loan from other institutions.
Add to that a number of cases that require excavations, which in turn require electricity generators that are all but nonexistent in besieged Ghouta.”
Q: Was the timing of this particular attack strange? Was it a response to the rebels blowing up that tunnel in Zamalka?
“This massacre wasn’t something new to the residents of Ghouta, especially not to the residents of Arbin, considering the town is in rebel hands. Regime bombing has become something normal.
Unfortunately the locals have gotten used to the bombing, to a large degree.”