Scientist Gives Tour Of Smoldering Site Of Missile Strike In Syria

CBS

DAMASCUS, Syria (CBSNews) — One of the targets of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syriawas still smoldering late Saturday (April 14) afternoon, reports CBS News’ Seth Doane, the only American network correspondent inside Syria. The U.S. military says the Barzeh complex in Damascus was a “center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons.”

Scientist Sayed said his office was there.

“Yes, where you see the smoke,” he said. He’s been here for 38 years and said he cried when he saw this place Saturday — his life’s work destroyed.

He said it’s “totally incorrect” that chemical weapons were being developed there. “The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited here and didn’t report anything wrong with this place.”

Syrians are adamant that this was not a place to develop chemical weapons but rather a place of learning – a research institution where they developed things like pharmaceuticals. What’s clear now is that it’s gone.

Before Syria could calculate the losses – which they claimed were limited – the government was portraying itself as confident, releasing video, first thing this morning, of Syrian President Bashar Assad appearing calm and unfazed.

A package on the side of the road is anti-venom, which Sayed says is what they were producing. Sayed told us this airstrikes took his livelihood.

It’s a big institution, but Sayed said it isn’t possible that things were going on that he didn’t know about.

CBS News looked into the OPCW report from Barzeh and it noted the Syrians had delayed the visit for security concerns, but didn’t find any red flags. The Pentagon says destroying the facility sets the Syrian chemical weapons program back several years.