05:21 GMT29 May 2020
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    In the follow up to the US missile attack on Syria, Sputnik correspondent Mikhail Alaeddin travelled to the Ash Sha'irat military airfield near Homs in Syria and the neighboring villages to see for himself the aftermath of the strike. Here is his first-hand account.

    In the early hours of Friday, the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat near Homs.

    US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapons use in Idlib on Tuesday, which Washington blamed on Damascus, without providing any evidence or waiting for an independent investigation.

    Sputnik correspondent Mikhail Alaeddin travelled to Sha'irat to see for himself that the aftermath of the attack has spread far beyond the military airfield and led to the death and suffering of civilians in the neighboring villages.

    He also visited a rural hospital which was first to receive and provide medical assistance to those injured and talked to villagers who spoke about and showed the damage of the strike.

    "In about 24 hours the Syrian military were ready to take the first aircraft to the air," Alaeddin writes in his article.

    He describes his visit to the military airfield near Homs: "In hangar 'N' the preparations are in the full swing: the engineering staff is examining the combat jet which is getting ready to take off, a Soviet-made refueling aircraft, which drowns any sound around with the noise of its engine."

    Syrian Air Forces resume flights from Ash Sha'irat air base
    © Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
    Syrian Air Forces resume flights from Ash Sha'irat air base

    Several Syrian servicemen were trying to clear up the damage caused by the US attack: pieces of concrete, leftovers from the destroyed nearby hangars, he says. He then goes to inspect the runway together with the Syrian officers.

    "Everything is in order. You may start taxiing and take off. God bless you!" radios a senior officer.

    An Su-22 is taxiing out of its shelter and starts moving. Having received permission to take-off it starts running and in the blink of an eye is gone.

    Syrian Air Forces resume flights from Shayrat Air Base
    © Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
    Syrian Air Forces resume flights from Shayrat Air Base

    "Servicemen and officers start to applaud, tension wanes from their faces. The pilot makes a turn, comes back to give them an ultra-low altitude salute then vanishes into the sky," the journalist writes.

    A general reports to the general staff that Sha'irat is ready for operation and in less than one hour the second aircraft takes off followed by more jets.

    Syrian Air Forces resume flights from Ash Sha'irat air base
    © Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
    Syrian Air Forces resume flights from Ash Sha'irat air base

    The journalist then visits nearby villages and talks to the local residents.

    "In our village, a school was damaged, our rural hospital received many of the injured, lots of homes were damaged. The villagers are scared as the attack might not be the last one," the head villager of Sha'irat settlement told the correspondent.

    Then they go to inspect the school. They are met by the school principal who points at a missile which landed right at the entrance to the educational facility.

    "All the windows have been blown out. At my home, the windows have been also blown out slightly injuring my daughter. Thanks to God, the wounds aren't deep, it's more about fear. My neighbor's ears were bleeding and was taken to the hospital in Homs," he said, while demonstrating the damage to the school.

    He showed the glass shards which crashed into the school tables.

    "Thanks to God it wasn't during the classes," he said.

    Alaeddin then went to inspect the local houses, finding metal scraps and shell holes in houses and gardens. Many have been without windows. In one of the yards he finds a wide and long trench.

    This morning there was an unexploded missile broken in halves. The military then came to pick it up," an elderly man living in the house told the journalist, pointing at the trench.

    The rural hospital turns out to be a small building, more like a polyclinic, Alaeddin says. However the chief doctor explained that it is a private clinic, fully stocked with medicines.

    "We had enough medication and staff. The injured, 22 people, started to arrive shortly after the strike on the airbase. Seven people were killed in our village. The villagers came to give blood, which was in high demand at the time," he told the journalist.

    The personnel said that a third of those injured were shocked and scared. They suffocated, suffered mild concussion and had other symptoms.

    "Everyone was provided with medical assistance. We especially worried for those who had lacerated wounds. But they were sent to a city hospital. And those killed were sent to Homs," said the personnel.

    "That night was as scary as hell. Our home was shaking and I was afraid that the ceiling will fall down at me. But my father sheltered me and the whole family rushed outside," a teenage boy waiting at the hospital told the journalist. He said he got away with just a fright.

    "Everyone was scared, and in the neighboring villages as well. We are afraid they might strike once again. However we have been living at war for six years now and no Americans will force us leave our land," the school principal told Alaeddin.

    "If this Trump wants to help the Syrian people, let him leave Syria alone and take all his terrorists with him," he said.

    missile attack, aftermath, Mikhail Alaeddin, Ash Sha'irat, Syria, United States, Homs
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