In pics: Syria air strike reduces research centre to smoking rubble

Damascus residents were woken before dawn on Saturday by a series of explosions resounding across the city, very loud even for people used to the sound of heavy bombardment.

Ten hours after the missiles hit, smoke was still rising from the remains of a research facility in Damascus’s Barzeh district that Western countries say was part of a covert Syrian government chemical weapons programme.

The United States, Britain and France attacked sites across Syria in response to a suspected poison gas attack a week ago, but the Syrian government, backed by Russia, denies using – or possessing – any such weapons.

The blasts left the Syrian Scientific Research Centre compound, standing hard against the steep, dry hills that hem in northeastern Damascus, little more than a ruin.

Syrian soldiers inspect the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound in the Barzeh district, north of Damascus,. (AFP) This picture taken on April 14, 2018 shows the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound in the Barzeh district. (AFP) This picture taken on April 14, 2018 shows a destroyed bus near the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound. (AFP) Journalists take pictures of the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound. (AFP) Journalists inspects the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound. (AFP) A Syrian soldier spray water on the wreckage of a building. (AFP)