Sunday 24 June 2018

Air bases emptied as fearful Syrians brace for US assault

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci

Sarah El Deeb

Activists in Syria have reported that government forces have vacated strategic potential targets - including air bases around the country - as they prepared for a possible US attack in retaliation for the alleged chemical assault.

The Foreign Ministry in Damascus denounced US President Donald Trump's threat to attack the country as "reckless" and a danger to international peace and security.

The statement was the latest in a war of words raging between Washington and Moscow since Saturday's suspected attack on the rebel-held town Douma, just outside Damascus, which is believed to have killed more than 40 people.

The World Health Organisation said that approximately 500 patients showed signs of exposure to toxic chemicals following the attack on Douma.

Syria and its ally Russia deny such an attack happened.

Amid the unprecedented tension between the two former Cold War adversaries, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the nation's government evacuated forces from a number of air bases around the country.

But Damascus allies confirmed that precautionary measures were being taken throughout Syria.

Civilians in government-held areas in Syria expressed a mix of fear and defiance.

Social media pages were flush with defiant comments, mostly from government supporters, some lamenting Syria's perpetual conflict while others taunted Trump to go through with his threats.

One woman who refused to be identified because of fear for her security described herself as "trembling" and said she had stocked up on food and is considering not sending her children to school.

"People say Trump is insane and he would like carry out his threats," the woman said.

Irish Independent

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