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Why CBS News Was the Only U.S. Network TV Outlet in Syria During the Missile Strike

Seth Doane opens up about being on the ground as the bombs landed

Lindsay MacDonald

For the past week, CBS News' correspondent Seth Doane has been on the ground in Syria, reporting on the alleged chemical weapon attacks as well as the U.S and allied forces missile strike response. TV Guide spoke with Doane about his experiences in Syria and how he managed to be the only U.S. TV network correspondent on the ground in Syria at the time the missiles were landing,

"As soon as this April 7 attack took place, my producer that I work with here and the bureau chief in London started thinking, 'We'd better move on trying to get into Syria, in case there is some sort of US response to this April 7 attack,' and it turned out there was," Doane tells TV Guide.

But it's not just as easy as being quick on the uptake and finding yourself in the right place at the right time. You can't exactly come and go so easily in Syria, especially when you're an American journalist.

"You can't just walk into this country," Doane says, "You need a visa. You need permission. You need the blessing of the Ministry of Information and the Syrian government... The Syrian government is constantly evaluating new relationships and deciding what they want to do in terms of offering visas, so it can be hard just to get in... This is expensive for CBS to do and I feel very fortunate to get to work for them, because they invest in this type of story, and it's not just buying the plane ticket to a place like this. It's a lot of work to get in."

​Seth Doane, CBS Evening News

Seth Doane, CBS Evening News

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Thanks to the hard work of his team, Doane actually found himself in Damascus during the missile strike, which would have been intimidating to most people and downright terrifying to others. As for himself, Doane describes the experience as "bizarre."

"It was 4:00 AM local time. It was very bizarre experience. In one ear I was listening to the address, the comments President Trump was making, explaining the coalition reasons behind the strikes, and while he was explaining it the strikes were taking place and I was standing on the balcony, hearing it. We were watching flares being shot into the sky. We were listening to anti-aircraft fire and Syrian attempts to try to stop some of those missiles," Doane says.

Since the strike, Doane has covered the ongoing story from both Damascus as well as Douma, the site of the alleged chemical weapon attack.

When we asked how safe it was for him to be traveling in a country the U.S. had so recently attacked, he replied that he'd been received warmly and openly by the people of both Douma and Damascus.

"It's unbelievable. We actually made it to one of the sites that had been targeted on Saturday, and the site was still smoldering," Doane says. "There was firefighters still spraying down what had been targeted by US, French, and UK air strikes. There I was, an American with my French producer and my cameraman who's from Scotland. We represented the three countries who had just been behind these coalition strikes and people shook our hand and talked to us. It was surprising."

TV Guide has since learned that Doane and his team left Syria today, Thursday, April 19.

CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor airs weeknights at 6:30/5:30c on CBS.