Seth Doane was in town to see a concert. Chances are he’ll encounter a lot more.
The CBS News correspondent earlier Tuesday found himself in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where a celebration has been scheduled for a Syrian “Independence Day.” People “are handing out Syrian flags,” says Doane. But there’s a lot more to see. “The conflict has so many faces. The more you stay here, the more you have to do.”
Seth Doane is the only U.S. network correspondent reporting from Douma, Syria, the site of the suspected chemical attack by the Assad regime on April 7. He and his team have been reporting from inside Syria since last week and were in Damascus as the coalition airstrikes happened on Friday. This week, they made it inside the house where the attack took place, before inspectors for the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons could arrive, and have been reporting on what they find for all of CBS News’ various outlets, including “The CBS Evening News,” “Face the Nation” and CBSN.
Doane says his team was able to enter the country on a government visa, the result of a lot of behind-the-scenes work by producers, bureau chiefs and other units of CBS News. Once the chemical attack took place earlier this month, he says, CBS News executives “had a sense we needed to get moving on those visas. They got things into motion to get us here.” The team had to get to Beirut, and then travel from there to Aleppo and other points.
He has been surprised to encounter intriguing signs of life in his travels. He has passed “people farming artichokes, fields of wheat” and spotted “civilians who have kind of come out – in some cases, come out of hiding. [These are] people who have been living underground, living in basements, during the worst of the bombardments” by the Syrian government.
He believes the musical event is taking place partly to show the outside world that life in Syria continues. “Clearly, the government wants the world media to see this. Since the missile attack, the have gone to great lengths to show a strong face.”
He plans to do as many stories as he can until the government decides he has to leave. Doane expects to continue his trip through Syria for the rest of the week.