Over the course of 2 weeks, Assad regime backed by Russian forces intensified their attacks and airstrikes across Syria. (Noting that this does not mean the attacks and airstrikes have ever stopped). Mass killing of civilians were reported across Idlib city, Idlib suburb, Aleppo suburb, Damascus suburb, and Hama suburb.
Idlib province and northern Aleppo suburbs, which are liberated areas, are considered among the most populated areas with internally displaced civilians. Families forcibly displaced by Assad from areas in Damascus suburbs, Eastern Aleppo, and Al Waer district in Homs are all currently living in this area. The fact that these civilians were not only forced by the Assad regime extensive bombardment and siege to leave their houses but also now are targeted in their place of displacement shows the humiliating failure and shame the international community monitored throughout every agreement to evacuate any revolutionary area besieged by Assad, transferring civilians from a death to the other.
In the escalation of Assad attacks the past 2 weeks, 4 hospitals were targeted by airstrikes and destroyed. They are:
Kufranbel Surgical Hospital in Kufranbel, Idlib suburb. It was targeted by several Assad/Russia airstrikes, putting it out of service.
Latamneh Surgical Hospital in Latamneh town, Hama suburb. It was targeted by Assad helicopters that dropped chlorine TNT barrels, leading to the injury to the whole medical cadre and to the death of a patient and Doctor Ali Darwish.
Kufrnabudeh Hospital in Hama suburb, funded by UOSSM, got targeted by Assad airstrikes, destroying major parts of it and putting it out of service.
Al Ma’rra Hospital in Ma’ret Al Numa’n, Idlib suburb. It was targeted by several Assad airstrikes, leading to its destruction and to the loss of extremely vital medical equipment. Footage of destruction is linked here.
As nearly most of the vital medical centers and hospitals in Idlib and Hama suburb got targeted over the span of a week, Assad forces launched a number of consecutive chlorine gas TNT barrels dropped by helicopters. Latamneh Surgical Hospital was destroyed by chlorine TNT barrel a week ago, but it didn’t stop there.
According to the director of Idlib Health Directorate, who held a press conference today citing the consecutive chemical attacks carried out by Assad regime, said in his statement: (Below is translation of first 2 minutes of the press conference)
“On Monday 3.4.2017 at 11:00 P.M, Latamaneh town in Hama suburbs was targeted by Assad helicopters that dropped TNT barrels with gas – most probably chlorine gas – suffocating 22 civilians. No deaths were reported.
On Monday 3.4.2016 at 9:15 P.M, Hubait town also in Hama suburb was targeted by Assad helicopters that dropped TNT barrels with gas – most probably chlorine gas – suffocating 17 civilians. No deaths reported.
Today morning, Tuesday 4.4.2017 at 6:30 A.M, Khan Shaykhoun in Idlib suburb was targeted by Assad warplanes with gases – most probably chlorine gas and Sarin gas – killing 50 documented civilians and more than 300 suffocated/injured. Most of the Idlib’s medical centers are packed with affected civilians. The death toll is likely to rise since there are many critical cases and because we do not have enough medical supplies and medicines to treat all these people. We have a scarcity in masks and supplies; during the past months, we sent countless calls to the international organizations and World Health Organizations to aid us with these needed supplies but there was barely any response. The message Assad is sending is blatant: Assad wants to kill all forms of life in liberated areas.
Khan Shaykhoun is a city in the southern suburb of Idlib province, an area where hundreds of internally displaced civilians currently live, most of them from Hama and its suburb, who fled the extensive Assad airstrikes that have been targeting Hama suburbs. At 6:30 A.M on Tuesday, several Assad airstrikes targeted the city, instantly killing and suffocating countless civilians, many of them children and women. Syrian Civil Defense volunteers rushed to the scene to salvage the civilians to medical centers. The symptoms that doctors reported were all similar:
-Pinpoint pupils unresponsive to light
-Patients in coma
-Convulsions, specially in limbs
-Excessive salivary secretions
-Chest tightening and difficulty breathing (asphyxia)
-No smell of chlorine
These symptoms are highly consistent with the previous Assad chemical massacre launched against Eastern Ghouta in Damascus suburbs, killing and suffocating thousands of civilians in August 2013. Chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta was carried out by Sarin gas, which is a colorless, odorless organophosphorus compound that is a highly potent nerve agent and typically causes severe asphyxia that eventually becomes fatal unless treatment is administered.
Doctor Shajul (speaking in English) in one if Idlib’s hospitals that previously received countless chlorine-affected patients, reported of the different symptoms he saw on patients from today’s Sarin gas attack.
Another Doctor from a medical center says:”We received many patients today after a gas attack on Khan Shaykhoun this morning. All patients were in a coma and showed very clear signs of asphyxiation.” Footage also shows the devastating symptoms on the civilians affected.
Activist and citizen journalist Hadi Al Abdullah reports from the northern district of Khan Shaykhoun where the attack took place. Hadi speaks to Syrian Civil Defense volunteer Khaled who cited: (Below is a translation to the volunteer’s account of what happened)
Minute 1:50 in report: In early morning hours, Assad airstrikes hit a northern district in Khan Shaykhoun city with 4 rockets: 3 rockets and the 4th carrying toxic gases. The attack led to the suffocation of many civilians; nearly 250 civilians suffered from suffocation symptoms ranging from mild to severe 70 other civilians were killed.
Minute 3:05 in report: We were called and Khan Shayhoun Syrian Civil Defense group that first arrived to the scene came to help without knowing that it was a toxic gas attack; this led to the suffocation of more than 4 Syrian Civil Defense volunteers. Another group then headed to the area and we offered first aid and sent the patients to the medical points for treatment.
Activists and news centers shot several extremely distressing footage of the aftermath right after the attack and the arrival of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers. Civilians suffocating from the gas all showed similar horrifying symptoms of asphyxia and convulsions at the scene; several others were in a coma. All civilians were washed with water and had their clothes removed.
After the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhoun, the regime then launched airstrikes on Syrian Civil Defense Khan Shaykhoun center, whose volunteers were among the first to arrive to the scene of chemical attack, and Syrian Civil Defense center in Hubait in Hama suburb, destroying them both and rendering them out of service. Syrian Civil Defense reported no injuries. (Photos of the destruction in the centers can be found in Syrian Civil Defense tweet here).
Assad and Russian forces then launched 8 airstrikes on one of the last standing hospitals in Idlib, Al Rahmeh Hospital, destroying major parts of it. Doctors and media activists were inside the hospital when the attack happened. Footage below shows moment the hospital got targeted by airstrikes whilst activists Yaman Khatib and Fadi Al Halabi were reporting from inside.
Escalation hasn’t only targeted Idlib and Hama suburbs but also Eastern Ghouta. Yesterday, 3.3.2017, more than 30 civilians were killed and tens others were wounded by more than 60 airstrikes that targeted several towns including Saqba, Hamureye, and Douma. Today, 4.4.2017, Assad warplanes renewed their bombarding on Eastern Ghouta towns, killing 15 civilians in Saqba and wounding tens of other civilians. Eastern Ghouta’s siege makes it extremely difficult to treat the massive amount of civilians with severe, life-threatening injuries. Medical conditions in Eastern Ghouta are dire to the extent that more than 4 kidney failure patients died in last 2 months and children are suffering from Measles due to the lack of vaccines.
Many videos of aftermath of Assad airstrikes on Kufrbatnah, Douma, Saqba, and Salqeen could be found on Syrian Civil Defense Damascus Suburb Facebook Page.
AFP reported Francois Hollande accuses Assad regime of today’s chemical massacre. But what comes next for Syrians? Isn’t there an end to Assad? A closure? Justice? Will we wait for yet another major massacre? Does it really differ whether Syrians bleed to death by normal Assad airstrikes or suffocate to death by Assad’s chemicals that supposedly were “confiscated” after 2013 chemical massacre?
I have wanted to write this rant for a long, long time:
During the past 7 years, we have probably witnessed the worst that the generation of 1980s and 1990s could ever see. We lived through wars, pressure, heartbreaking traumas, refugee crisis, wars, extremism, seas with drowning humans, warplanes, human trafficking, unjustful detainment, injustice surrounding every single aspect of our lives ranging from your own house’s 4 walls to the widest sidewalks and streets your feet touched up to the highest altitude you reached in your journeys in airplanes.
And yet, specially in the Middle Eastern region, the very fact that you CARE is a source of “doubt” for people. At the beginning, like every single thing humans hype about, it is considered “heroism, bravery, courage”. But given the human nature which is dominated by boredom and short-term memory, as time passed by, “caring” now is deemed by people a source of attention or some form of masochistic behavior that “you really like to bother and pain yourself”. As time passes by, those who truly care begin to question their intentions; noting that intentions is something untouchable, unfathomable, uncontrollable, subliminal in its type that you actually begin to lose it yourself. You begin to question yourself: Do I genuinely care or what people are saying is true? That I am doing it for attention? (I aforementioned in “Middle Eastern region” because I noticed that in Western countries, this isn’t as common. Those who work in any humanitarian field are most of the time hailed and supported and never doubted).
I struggle with this fact every single day. Being truly passionate about causes much bigger than you are, it does bring you some sort of attention from your surrounding; it is the same attention that people give you then sometimes question your very own intentions whether your sole aim is really their actual momentary attention… (Reverse psychology, in other words).
Your grief, sleepless nights, true agony, endless thought patterns, every favor you ask from people to read or help or donate or share, it all becomes questionable in your heart and mind.
I came to the conclusion that there are people doing countless good deeds for attention, specially given the truism that social media creates a sort of “perfect world” to portray yourself in a certain way no matter what you do: entertainment, politics, blogging, cooking, fashion, etc.
But I also came to the conclusion for so many in political/humanitarian field is that many people actually do genuinely care. You can seek attention in so many other sorts; singing or dancing or acting or doing a live Facebook video about any subject brings a LOT more attention than posting or sharing or talking about any humanitarian subject. No body remembers any heroes of the past, or individuals who sacrificed their lives for the sake of a certain cause or plight, or any of the countless activists in Arab region who lost their lives trying to tell the truth, yet almost everyone certainly knows past and present singers and actors for instance.
It is an every day struggle to come to this fact. To accept people’s doubt and concerns and letdowns. And to accept that no matter what you do, many people will almost always doubt what you really are. People will doubt your tears, pain, and keenness to the injustices around the world. Renew your intentions every day and that is all it takes to be a true human in this world where selfishness, hatred, and prejudice is corroding us to the core.
(Note: this is intended in support of anyone who finds peace fighting for those who have no voice and no opinion. Also it isn’t in any way an attempt to showcase a very minor struggle compared to all those truly struggling to even survive. But all this takes its toll on those working in any humanitarian field, it lets them down and discourages them to the highest extent. It becomes both a fight for the sake of the people and a fight to sustain one’s self).
“We cannot take photos here but the scenes of the people killed and wounded are unreal.” That’s how an activist in Al Malaab district in Homs city described the scenes today as tank shells fired by Assad military college also targeted the civilians in Al Malaab, which is a regime-controlled district.
Al Waer district – which houses up to 80 thousand civilians, some original residents and many internally displaced from other districts – has been under Assad siege for years. For 3 years, medical aid has not been allowed by Assad forces into the district except occasionally; food supplies have not been allowed in for the 4th month in a row. Al Waer is the last rebel-held area in the city. Civilians are not allowed to enter or leave the district and so are medical cases, trapped inside with extremely dire medical conditions where medics are unable to offer healthcare to chronic diseases, amputations, or properly perform urgent life-saving surgeries to wounded patients. Prices of provisions are inflated massively; for instance, one kilo of flour costs 1,200 Syrian liras (around 6 US dollars), an amount that cannot be paid by most civilians who are unemployed or unable to work due to injuries or the lack of a guardian.
Bombarding Al Waer District
Since the 7th of February up until today Friday, Assad regime forces and allied Al Rida Hezballah forces continue to target the Al Waer district with all types of heavy weaponry. Speaking to activist Mohammad Hameed inside Al Waer, he says: “6 civilians have been killed only today Friday.” According to Mohammad and fellow activists, for the past 3 days the district has been targeted by at least 10 airstrikes, 79 mortar bombs, and 55 tank shells. He adds: “Civilian areas are being specially targeted, such as Al Berr hospital, Syrian Civil Defense center, schools, main roads, and souks. It’s completely indiscriminate.”
From 7th of February up until today Friday, 19 civilians got killed, including 4 children and 1 woman. The bombardment continues to target the besieged area.
80 civilians got wounded, including 21 children and 4 cases of amputation, in the latest escalation as well. Mohammad says doctors are unable to cope with severe injuries and the lack of specialized doctors makes matters worse. “For the past 5 months, the medical situation has become horrendous; there rarely are any medicines for chronically diseased patients, such as those suffering diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure.” Medics left in Al Waer district are forced to make extremely difficult decisions with the lack of medical supplies. Doctors today uploaded footage from one of the hospitals in Al Waer district, sending what they call “the last humanitarian call to all human rights and aid organizations”, to allow medical supplies to enter the district.
Translation of the video:
“Male doctor: This is the last call we send to the international and human rights organizations working in the medical field to immediately end the siege on Al Waer district; you must fulfill your role in ending the siege and allowing medical supplies, first aid, vaccinations, baby milk, and children supplements into the district.
Female doctor: Massive number of wounded civilians: children, women, men, young men… The airstrikes are indiscriminate and are targeting everyone. Children wounded… We have cases of amputations. This is a humanitarian call to all international organizations: medical supplies should be allowed into the district to treat all those wounded. Please, please, please help Al Waer district. This is our last call to the international organizations.”
According to activist Mohammad, Al Waer’s Negotiating Committee, which had been able to maintain ceasefires for the besieged district, is negotiating with the regime to halt the savage escalation.
Al Malaab district, which is another heavily populated district in Homs city despite being under Assad regime control, was under attack today by regime’s tank shells. 2 civilians were killed and at least 6 other civilians were wounded.
The regime’s forces also targeted the towns of Talbiseh, Taldu, and Al Ghantu in Homs’s suburbs by airstrikes and heavy tank shelling, leading to the killing of one civilian.
(Reports, footage, and photos by East Aleppo’s activists for 14th of December are posted at the end of this blogpost).
(Reports, footage, and photos by East Aleppo’s activists for 16th of December are posted at the end of this blogpost).
Since 12th of December, activists and civilians in besieged East Aleppo have been sharing their final messages to the world as death looms in by Assad forces and supporting Iranian and Iraqi militias on ground and the nonstop Russian and Assad aerial bombardment targeting civilian gatherings in the rest of the besieged districts still under rebel control.
East Aleppo, which is a strong rebel hold, has been under attack by Assad and Russian forces since the Russians have extensively intervened militarily in November 2015. Hundreds of civilians were killed in East Aleppo’s districts and thousands others have been wounded. Russian and Assad airstrikes have not only targeted besieged East Aleppo, but also heavily populated Idlib city and its suburbs, specially Maaret Numan and Binnish, Western Aleppo suburbs, and Homs suburbs, leading to more civilian casualties and extensive destruction.
Within the past week, more than two third of East Aleppo fell into the hands of Assad regime as rebels could not fight longer mainly due to the overpowering Assad army forces accompanied by supporting Iranian militias on ground and Russian and Syrian airstrikes. All hospitals have either been partially or completely destroyed by Russian aerial bombardment, leading to a dearth in medical care for severely wounded civilians at risk of death with every ticking minute. Currently, up to 50 thousand civilians, many young men, women, children, and wounded, are left inside nearly 4 districts, surrounded from all sides by Assad militias, and unable to leave under intense bombardment and dreadful fears of retribution if caught by the regime’s forces in West Aleppo.
East Aleppo male civilians who actually made it with their families to West Aleppo in the past week have either been forcibly disappeared or forced into military service with Assad army. Photos were released of families waiting to see their male relatives for the last time before they are thrown by Assad army to battles’ front lines. Also, many families still inside East Aleppo reportedly lost all contact of the whereabouts of their friends and families who fled to West Aleppo. Therefore, de facto, Assad regime considers East Aleppoans dead anyways, whether detained and tortured or forced into military service just to be killed. Activists and civilians have been live streaming the news from East Aleppo everyday, with footage, tweets, Facebook posts, and interviews, putting their lives at major risk of detainment, torture, and execution if they leave to West Aleppo since their real identities are known to the regime.
Several massacres, including Jub Al Qubbeh massacre – where more than 40 civilians were killed – amongst others, occurred as civilians gathered to flee to West Aleppo get targeted by Assad and Russian airstrikes and tank shelling, killing tens of them and injuring many others. Activists also reported that almost any moving vehicle in East Aleppo’s districts is instantly targeted by airstrikes. No true humanitarian routes have been truly secured for civilians; they were rather “death routes” since Russia used them as means to further exterminate civilians inside. In past 2 days, Syrian Civil Defense has not been able to report a death toll within East Aleppo’s districts as reportedly tens of its civilians are trapped underneath the rubble of their houses and no one has been able to reach them due to the intense, indiscriminate bombardment and the lack of tools accompanied by constant internal displacement just to survive.
In districts that the regime and supporting militias were able to enter, activists in East Aleppo reported horrific executions carried out against civilians there. No footage or videos have been released from these areas and anything that is being released as executions by Assad army are old videos.
December 14, 2016:
According to activists inside, yesterday night, December 13, 2016, after UNSC meeting, 70 wounded civilians were supposed to evacuate from East Aleppo to the western Aleppo suburbs. But the evacuation was then postponed to 6 A.M today and again postponed to 9:00 A.M.
Today morning, no evacuation happened because the Iranian militias broke the ceasefire by tank shelling East Aleppo districts. 2 reasons were reported:
1- Iran did not know of and was not part of the deal struck between rebels and civilians on a side and Russia/Assad on the other side with help of Turkey.
2- Iran demanded that a number of wounded civilians in pro-regime Kufreya and Fawaa villages evacuate too.
Reuters then quoted Syrian Assad army official stating that “no deals will be struck without the consent of both Iran and Russia”. Assad forces resumed their bombarding and Russian airstrikes first resumed on Ansar district in besieged East Aleppo and reportedly until now more than 15 airstrikes targeted the besieged areas. Since nearly 10:00 a.m., the airstrikes and bombardment did not stop. Rebels then launched rockets towards the regime areas in retaliation to Assad forces launching airstrikes and tank shelling against civilians; according to Syrian State TV, 7 people were killed in regime-controlled West Aleppo due to the rebel bombardment. Yet, the regime is attempting to accuse the rebels of ending the ceasefire when in fact the Assad regime is not capable of holding the ceasefire whilst Iran and Russia have the greater power. If the ceasefire is not monitored internationally or by local United Nations observers, the negotiations will certainly fail and the ceasefire will probably never be achieved.
Activists report civilian casualties due to the savage bombardment and an inability to salvage them.
ِAll these events are a blatant message to Assad supporters: your government is not able to hold a ceasefire nor strike any deal or have any legitimacy in its own country as occupational Iranian militias are trespassing your own government. This is extremely shameful as no free, sane, intellectual, educated population in this whole world will agree to such trespassing and disorder against a government you claim brings you peace and security.
For those who were reporting since last night that buses filled with wounded civilians were on their way to Idlib, it is false and wrong. Not one civilian left East Aleppo up until now. Any rumors truly harm the people inside. Please follow the activists and reporters inside and civilians live streaming every few minutes reporting the situation. They know better than anyone else.
Keep raising your voice for the people of East Aleppo and the whole of Syria. Idlib is being packed with civilians from across Syria and in the past 2 months Daraya, Muadmeyet Al Sham, Al Tal, and Palestinian Khan Al Sheh camp all in Damascus’s suburbs were forced to evacuate to the north of Syria and surrender to Assad regime and its allies after months of siege, famine, lack of medical aid, and intense bombardment. The fact that we are calling the world to evacuate East Aleppo civilians from their own housesو districts, schools, shops, and memories is horrendous, but this is the only mean to save them after world countries have shamefully failed them.
Activists reports December 14, 2016:
Doctor Salem Abulnaser currently besieged in East Aleppo wrote these words (translated from Arabic to English below). He also posted his video and appeal from East Aleppo today as shells were falling near his house.
Heavy artillery fire since four hours and so far in addition to several air raids by warplanes also against the besieged neighborhoods of Aleppo city,
I advocate and appeal you as a human to rescue “who survived from us” now
There’s no time for whatever negotiations, we – as civilians – just need to impose a ceasefire immediately now and then to discuss or negotiate on which way and how to evacuate us we the thousands of trapped civilians in the city of Aleppo,
time is from blood, and death
time is from blood, and death
-Lina Al Shamy’s footage in East Aleppo reporting today’s airstrikes and bombardment targeting her and all civilians trapped inside as evacuation and ceasefire failed. Lina also wrote on her twitter:
Assad regime & Iran didn’t make any considerations to the international agreement in Aleppo !And breached the ceasefire!
No one yet could leave from the besieged city as it should have been done in the agreement.
Regime & Iran came back to revenge from civilians
–Activist Karam Al Masri posted photos from East Aleppo today showing the bombardment and the internally displaced civilians in East Aleppo.
-Fatemah, Bana Al Abed’s mother, who are still internally displaced within East Aleppo’s besieged districts, posted this tweet today:
Dear world, there’s intense bombing right now. Why are you silent? Why? Why? Why? Fear is killing me & my kids. – Fatemah
-Salah Ashkar reported with his footage that since 9:00 A.M, the regime and allied forces started bombarding and shelling besieged East Aleppo again. He also tweeted:
We are in a huge risk! The aerial bombardment has not stopped please go to the streets ask your govt to put pressure on Russia to stop now.
December 16th, 2016:
Nearly 7,000 wounded civilians, civilians, and few rebels were allowed to leave on December 15, 2016 up until the early morning of December 16th. Despite that the first convoy that was due to leave on Wednesday morning was targeted at by Iranian and Hezballah militias gunfire, leading to the severe injury 4 civilians, including Bebars Mesh’al (head of Syrian Civil Defense in East Aleppo), and the killing of one already wounded civilian, the forced displacement went smoothly later through the day and most civilians made it safely to Western Aleppo suburbs, amongst other areas.
(This information below was collected after listening/reading more than 4 different accounts of civilians who were in the convoy. Videos and audios will be posted with English translation below.
Today, at around 2:00 p.m. as a 25-30 vehicle convoy carrying 800 civilians was on its way out of East Aleppo along with both Red Crescent and Red Cross vehicles, it passed through a Russian checkpoint and then was stopped at a Hezbalah checkpoint. Within 30 minutes, the Hezbalah and Iranian officers demanded that all Red Cross and Red Crescent vehicles approach to the foremost front of all civilian vehicles, and a military tank was driven right in front of the Red Crescent and Red Cross car completely blocking the Ramuseh road. The armed soldiers forced all male civilians to step out of the vehicles, searched them, forced them to lie on the ground, tied their hands, forced a number of men to remove their clothes, confiscated all their valuable belongings – including cellphones and money-, and threatened with torture and execution throughout the time of detainment. 4 civilians were executed (some sources said 10 civilians), and up to 7 others were detained. After 4 hours of utter fear and dreadful times for children, women, and the detained men and after confiscating many of their cars, they were released and forced to flee back to besieged East Aleppo; the pro-regime militias opened gunfire in air and towards civilians as they were heading back to East Aleppo. Bodies of the civilians killed were taken by Iranian and Hezbalah forces.
The medical situation in East Aleppo is extremely dire. Many wounded civilians are still on streets and inside buildings lacking proper health care as most hospitals are out of service and only very few doctors and medical workers are left to help and operate on any wounded civilian or emergency case inside.
Civilians are still on the streets in East Aleppo in horrendously difficult humanitarian conditions. Temperatures are falling below 0 degrees in the city and thousands of civilians are homeless, lacking medical care, heating sources, proper nutrition, sanitation, and water supply. For the 3rd day in a row, civilians are being forced to endure the unbearable as they were given hope to evacuate and then now forced back into the besieged districts under the threat of invasion and massacres by Assad regime and its sectarian allies.
Internet has been cut off after the civilians headed back towards East Aleppo; thus, the whole area, with up to 50 thousand civilians still trapped inside, is in nearly complete media blackout with activists and civilians barely finding a connection to report their news.
The forced displacement/evacuation of civilians from East Aleppo cannot continue without international monitoring and observation, be it United Nations observers or else. There is a blatant jeopardization to the lives of civilians within East Aleppo if the evacuation process is continued without any form of protection from the atrocities of Assad, Russian, Hezbalah, and Iranian forces.
Activists reports December 16, 2016:
–Footage with English subtitles from captured-convoy civilians right after they were released from Iranian and Hezbalah militias. Gunfire could be heard in the background as civilians panicked, running towards besieged East Aleppo.
Peace be upon you. We left East Aleppo today, accompanied by Red Crescent and Red Cross, through Ramouseh road. We were 16 civilian cars and several ambulance cars carrying wounded civilians. While we were driving, we passed by a Russian checkpoint that allowed us all to pass. We then passed to an Iranian and Shiite checkpoint; they stopped us for nearly 3o minutes. Then, a military tank blocked the road and stood in front of the convoy. A tank was placed behind our convoy too and we were surrounded by heavily armed vehicles. Red Crescent and Red Cross were forced to drive out from within the convoy assembly and the militias started shooting in the air. They then forced all men to step out of the cars. One pregnant woman was accompanying her husband and when she saw them pulling him out of the vehicle, she started bleeding; they shot her husband and killed him and she fainted at the scene.They started yelling, telling us that “we are all terrorists”, opened gunfire at us and nearly 10 were instantly killed. We all lied down on the ground. The bleeding pregnant woman was taken in a car by them. Several of us were injured and we lied on the ground for around 3 hours. They searched us, forced several of us to take off our clothes, and confiscated all our cellphones, money, and several of our vehicles. They took us to the last point under their control and left us to go back into besieged East Aleppo as they opened gunfire in the air and towards us; civilians started leaving their belongings and running for their lives into East Aleppo. Currently, I am back in East Aleppo.
-Activist Lina Al Shamy, still besieged in East Aleppo, took this footage after the evacuation stopped today. She also tweeted:
Today field executions by Iranians among the civilians from the convey who left Aleppo according to the agreement!
Iranians breaches: They detained convey of civilians, field executed number of them,demanded requests weren’t even included in the agreement.
What happened today shows that Russia was unable to commit their promises.Nor to control the Iranians who breached the agreement.
-Activist Zouhir Al Shimale, who was on the captured convoy, tweeted what happened:
We were around 1000 they took us after we reached regime’s areas,handcuffs us,killed 4 & told us that it’s pay back.Then we came back (to East Aleppo).
Thousands waiting to be evacuated but the sectarian militants prevented us after they took all of our money and told us to go back (to East Aleppo).
Stop those foreign militants who are killing us. We were unarmed normal people! Genocides in Aleppo. Stand with Aleppo again.
After this horrible day which is the worst catastrophe day of my life…Will not leave without UN observation.
Extremely cold less than -6 here in East Aleppo where more than 50.000 still trapped & haven’t left.NOT as Russia said they have evacuated us!
-Photos taken by Othman AlKhudr show few of the civilians still trapped in besieged East Aleppo:
–Footage shows one of the few paramedics left in besieged East Aleppo, speaking of the current medical and humanitarian situation inside. (translated to English below). These photos also reveal part of the agony of wounded civilians inside.
Cameraman:”Doctor, what happened?” Doctor:”Today is 16-12-2016. Evacuation of wounded civilians has been occurring since the early morning. A number of the wounded civilians have been evacuated; there still are wounded civilians, including several in the ICU (intensive care unit), who need immediate evacuation. Just around us here are more than 30 wounded civilians who must be evacuated. We contacted the Red Crescent and Red Cross more than 2 times but the checkpoints stopped the evacuation and are prohibiting anyone, whether wounded civilians or families, from leaving East Aleppo. The patients’ conditions are extremely devastating. You can see it for yourselves; God help us.
–Footage uploaded by “Thiqa agency” interviewing one of the survivors from the convoy after he was forced back into East Aleppo.
–Bilal Abdulkareem, journalist working for On Ground News, uploads footage (in English) today after the evacuation process stopped, saying more than 50 thousand civilians still trapped inside East Aleppo.
-Al Hamdu, an English teacher and activist trapped in East Aleppo, tweets today:
Hello how are you everyone. I want to thank you for your help. But I am still trapped in Aleppo. They are mocking us. We might have no hope.
It seems that the international community decided to let us to our destiny: Death.
Please from human to human: If you couldn’t help keep us alive, don’t forgive Russia, Assad, and Iran after our death. Let them pay the price.
-Monther Etaky, an activist still trapped in East Aleppo, wrote on his Facebook page:
We tried to reach the evacuation zone earlier but blocked by the iranians and the Russians All the families back to their homes and the situation is worse than anyone can imagine.
MeccaSnapchat was probably one of the most successful social campaigns: right timing, right words said, amazing support and shares, but we Muslims ruined it ourselves.
Those Muslim tweeps who kept saying “see the MeccaSnapchat and how beautiful it is see we are not terrorists we are not all black in black”: we don’t need that.
We are not prone to continuous pathetic attempts in trying to clear our name from obvious stereotyping, Islamophobia, and propaganda. These attempts will not matter to those who know Islam well and will certainly not change the minds of those who are Islamophobic. I truly do suggest we stop defending ourselves with such a condescending manner as though we are the culprits in this world.
We do need to mature in handling the hate towards Islam; the condescending, victimized manner obviously isn’t working. Acting as a true Muslim and representing yourself as a virtuous, understanding, helpful human being, spreading what you know very well about Islam, and educating ourselves more about our religion and seeking its true essence would lead to good, gradual change as well as the beautiful campaigns such as MeccaSnapchat (except for the countless tweeps who ruined it).
But the condescending manner and the “we are good people see, how bright how nice how peaceful” wouldn’t do us good on the long term.
And what worsened the MeccaSnapchat were those Muslims who began tweeting those who were considering converting to Islam, and giving them “first-hand advice” such as “In Islam we don’t smoke, we don’t drink, we don’t listen to music, we don’t, we don’t we don’t., women cover in Islam…”
How will the perspective towards our religion ever change if we keep desecrating our religion to the smallest bits of shallow rules that marginalize the true essence of Islam and real understanding of what God really wants from us in this life… How can we invite people to our religion when all we know are the “don’t” and very few of the “do’s” and are swaying between them in life and putting all those who do the “don’ts” in hell and those who do the “do’s” in heaven.
There is an essential wish that we must keep praying God to grant us is that He puts us to the right path first and then allows us to spread our religion in proper manner with correct priorities and in a decent image, because it is a responsibility that is often mistaken of being “a few dos and don’ts and words here and there” when in fact it is a major responsibility that must be handled in a systemic, well-planned manner – after being educated well about Islam – for true change to be seen in the future. In the meantime, the best mean to be viewed as a good Muslim is with good deeds; this needs no education whatsoever, and it touches every human heart and tackles every mind, and God never forgets any attempts we make in trying to become better…
I had so much passion and faith in writing… And I still do except that I cannot find any more words to express explicitly what Syria is like now.
No words are worthy enough to tell what Syrians or what the world is like in our days. Doomed, ugly, full of hatred, lies, hypocrisy, ignorance, neglect.
We used to be able to report massacres done by Assad across Syria. I used to memorize faces and dates; I used to memorize videos as well and tell each video from which massacre and which city/village. Now my memory is on “replay”. Every image, every terabyte of agony is on replay. I cannot remember all the martyrs anymore, all the faces of the detainees, all the massacres and their dates, all the families and people who in every other video yell in pain and rage because the world doesn’t hear their cries.
I’m not desensitized, and I everyday try not to ever get used to death… Because the moment we don’t care anymore, the moment we lose the spark of pain in the heart – that excruciating feeling as though someone is clutching your heart – that my people are dying everyday by Assad, by ISIS, by Hezballah, by Lebanese army, in the seas and oceans, in dungeons, in refugee countries, by bombardment…. The moment we get used to death is the moment we lose the battle not only with Assad, but with our very own humanity.
More than 50 martyrs still die daily in Syria. More than 50 families mourn their beloved deaths everyday; children are orphaned and women/men are widowed. Tens of families have missing family members in some spot in Syria, either being tortured, maybe executed, or buried in some area where all that will be left for the families to recover are hollow bones and skulls someday somehow. Hundreds are maimed everyday, amputated limbs, lost eyes, paralyzed… Hundreds of women scream in pain in dungeons as they are severely tortured by regime’s culprits, ripped of every bit of hope they put in a world that betrayed them… Thousands of men and women are armed and fighting Assad, fighting ISIS, battling with the world, sleepless, cold, exhausted but persistent. Hundreds of thousands of children forgot how to read because of the years lost of their lives without education as Assad’s war destroyed more than 1,500 schools across Syria. Refugees die because of hunger, or pain, at many times winter; some beg in streets for food, others force their children to work…
Assad lost us generations to come. Generations that only us could allow to rise again with care for their psychological and physical wounds and with education. It isn’t the refugees, the displaced, the former detainees, or the paralyzed who need us: it is us who need them. We need them to keep the revolution alive in us, to keep it alive despite everything.
I will go back to writing. I don’t care if this will ever be read or not. But I want to make sure that maybe someone in this world would one day, whether soon or in the infinite future, search “the revolution in Syria” and find that I, Enas, had something to say about my people, or at least tried to…
[Report composed by the Syrian Revolution General Commission – Media team]
More than 400 Syrian refugees arrested/ tortured – At least 2 refugees martyred
[News in this report will be updated as soon as activists report to us.]
Lebanese Army invaded several camps in Ersal in Lebanon at 5:00 a.m. in the early morning. The camps invaded include Al Sanabel and War’a Al Jafr where most of the male Syrian refugees were arrested by the army as they set fire to many tents – which are the only shelter for the devastated Syrian refugees – burning them down to ashes and leaving the women and children to the streets. Several individual incidents of arson by the Lebanese army targeted Ra’s Al Sarj and Abu Taqeyye camps.
Collectively, up to 448 Syrian refugees – male refugees’ ages ranging from minors to elderly – were arrested and severely beat up and tortured. The Lebanese army “stacked” the Syrian refugees near their armoured vehicles, blindfolded, handcuffed, and humiliated them in front of their families. Smoke from the burnt tents led to several cases of suffocation amongst the women, children, and elderly.
Syrian refugees expressed utter outrage and held a peaceful protest in front of Ersal’s Municipality, condemning the horrific crimes being committed against them by the Lebanese army and calling for the release of the arbitrarily arrested refugees.
The least that media outlets could do is to show to the international community and leaving defenseless, unarmed Syrian refugees to death, destruction, and a new exodus.
The actions of the atrocious Lebanese army is a blatant violation to most of the internationally recognized rights of refugees and the sole most important one of them all: their right of security in the country they sought refuge in.
Ahmad was known to many of us. Shame on the Lebanese government.
LEBANON – Arrest of Ahmed Al Qusair, Prominent Syrian Activist
A few hours ago, Lebanese security forces arrested prominent activist Ahmed al Qusair, a media spokesperson for Syrian Revolution General Commission and a member of the delegation in Life institute who worked tirelessly to end the recent battle in Ersal and save Syrian refugees and Lebanese citizens. Ahmed jeopardized his life after he and other delegates were attacked by gunfire during their visit to Erdal a few weeks ago.
Activists in Lebanon reported that Ahmed was beat up in front of his family (his wife and children) before being taken to unknown whereabouts by the Lebanese security forces.
If anything, this horrendous, illegal, and arbitrary arrest of peaceful activists without any charge held against them is a blatant crime and a violation of Ahmed’s rights primarily…
As painter Pablo Picasso quotes:”The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” And what more could we ask for than to wash away fractions of the death and slaughter that have overpowered us and those who care for the Syrian plight. Martyrs continue to fall as the regime’s forces continue to wage this savage horrendous war against the Syrian lives: torturing, executing, kidnapping, slaughtering, bombarding, and raping them.
Seldom does anyone see the talents of the Syrian populace in Za’tari refugee camp in Al Mafraq province, Jordan. Yanbou’ Shabab volunteer group, with the help of UNHCR and IRD organization decided to fetch for these talents, and they succeeded.
Al Za’tari camp houses 120 thousand refugees who fled the atrocities still being committed by Assad regime and his forces. Each family fled with a story of agony and miracles to tell, a story of sufferance and death that no mind could find feasible, a story of leftovers of memories from demolished houses, schools, and playgrounds, a story of detainment, and a million other stories of losing loved ones. Out of pain and sufferance these beautifully artistic souls paint these visages and stories in colours for the world to see. Yanbou’ Shabab volunteer group gathered the talented artists and painters and asked them to portray to the world what Syria is like: its beauty, agony, death, joy, dignity, and love.
Ali Abo Mahmoud, member of Yanbou’ Shabab and one of the organizers of the event which is going to be held on the 16th of August (Saturday) in Fann Wa Chai cafe in Amman, Jordan, says:”We gathered 6 painters from Al Za’tari camp and suggested that we arrange an art exhibition, and they could not be more excited.” He adds:”Our aim is to gather each group of refugees with common interests/talents in Al Za’tari and help them send their messages and voices to the world.”
Conditions in Al Za’tari have always been excruciating and refugees have consequently been conquered in the mayhem of every day life in a tent, worrisome of their dilemma. Activists and volunteer workers, as Ali says, want to salvage the refugees and their talents and turn them into productive individuals within groups.
“We will continue working with Syrian refugees and help them thrive in every mean possible”, Ali adds. The next project of Yanoub’ Shabab volunteer group, which Ali is a member of, is setting up for a drama play acted by mentally retarded refugees in the camp. Do note that the art exhibition will stay opened for 2 weeks (starting from the day of opening) in order to sell the paintings; all costs go to Yambou’ Shabab volunteer group to fund orphaned children Za’tari camp and their upcoming projects.
The work Ali and his friends, along with several other groups in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, blurt out the agonies suppressed in the minds and hearts of Syrian refugees after the atrocities they have witnessed in Syria and attempt to alleviate them. Instead of leaving them lost in their pain, arts, whether knitting, painting, or mastering the recitation of Quran are all means to magnetize Syrians back into productivity. With students dropping our of their schools/universities, it is extremely vital to keep their minds occupied and to gather their dispersed social life back from bits and pieces of shattered lives into revivifying themselves again.
Your attendance to the art exhibition in Amman, Jordan is a major support to the artists. Do your part and it definitely will be a treasure to welcome you.
For more information and for contact with the organizers, please do follow the link of the event: