The Guardian reports: Few people sleep early in Damascus, even in times of war. So when shells started to crunch into the east of the capital at around 2am on Wednesday, Um Hassan and her four children were wide awake, bracing for familiar sounds of bombs falling on buildings and the empty road below.
Soon, though, loudspeakers in the neighbourhood, some attached to mosque minarets, started blaring terrifying warnings – telling residents to leave their houses and flee.
“We were in a panic to take the children and run out of Zemalka to any nearby villages,” said Um Hassan of her area in the east Ghouta district of the capital. “People who were sleeping in their homes died in their beds because they could not feel the effects of the attack.”
Headaches and nausea quickly overcame the family as they scrambled though blackened streets towards the family car, a violent cacophony of shelling all around and the air filling with a strange, noxious odour.
“I still feel sick and drowsy with all the smoke I have breathed,” she said 36 hours after the attack, which killed hundreds of people, wounded many more, and sparked outrage around the world.
“As we were trying to [leave], I could see people coming out of their homes but they would fall down. We tried to help some of them but they died before we got them to the hospital.”
The attack seemed relentless, according to Um Hassan and other victims and first responders contacted by the Guardian via Skype onThursday. The Syrian government has acknowledged that its military launched a large operation in eastern Ghouta in the early hours of Thursday, but has vehemently denied the use of chemical weapons. [Continue reading…]