Month: April 2016

ISIS sex slave survivor- Nadia Murad

ISIS sex slave survivor: They beat me, raped me, treated me like an animal


Published on Mar 24, 2016

A woman from the Yazidi people speaks about an unspeakable nightmare. Nadia Murad’s village was ravaged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters. All the men were killed, and she, along with other girls, was forced to become a sex slave. Nadia survived being an IS slave and tells her harrowing story today, on Sophie&Co.

Transcript: https://www.rt.com/shows/sophieco/336398-is-slave-horrors-crime/

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Iraqi MP Breaks Down in Tears Pleading Parliament to Save Yazidis from Genocide

Published on Aug 14, 2014

Iraqi Kurdish MP from the ancient Yazidi faith, Vian Dakhil, gave a very emotional appeal in the Iraqi Parliament while in tears to rescue the Yazidis of Iraq from being exterminated by the Wahhabi Islamic group, the Islamic State, which is formerly known as the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL).

She states that 500 Yazidi men have been slaughtered by ISIL and that Yazidi women are being taken as slaves and sold in the slave market. She also mentions that ISIL is besieging the Sinjar Mountain, where 30,000 Yazidi families reside, while depriving them of food and water.

She said – “They are dying. Seventy children have died so far of thirst and suffocation. Fifty elderly people have died because of deteriorating conditions. The Yazidis suffered 72 genocides and it is being repeated in the 21st century. We are being slaughtered, annihilated. An entire religion is being wiped off the face of the Earth. I am calling out to you in the name of humanity. Save us!”.

The Yazidis are a Kurdish ethno-religious community, representing an ancient religion that is linked to Hinduism. They live primarily in the Nineveh province of northern Iraq.

Yazidi Teen Who Escaped from ISIS Captivity

Yazidi Teen Who Escaped from ISIS Captivity Recounts Her Harrowing Experiences


Published on Mar 24, 2016

Interviewed on the German Deutsche Welle TV, a Yazidi teenager recounted how she and her family had been captured when ISIS attacked her village near Sinjar, Iraq. Pervin – not her real name – who was 15 years old at the time, said that the men, including her father, had been killed by ISIS and that over 5,000 Yazidi girls had been housed together in Mosul, where they had been beaten and sold into slavery. Girls as young as nine years old were raped, she said. Pervin, who tried to kill herself four times, eventually escaped, with the help of other Yazidis. The interview aired on March 22.

ISIS Now Has Sex Slave Rape Guidelines

Published on Dec 29, 2015

Just when you thought ISIS couldn’t get any worse, they have now put out guidelines for how to rape your sex slaves. Probably not the best PR move… Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Islamic State theologians have issued an extremely detailed ruling on when “owners” of women enslaved by the extremist group can have sex with them, in an apparent bid to curb what they called violations in the treatment of captured females.

The ruling or fatwa has the force of law and appears to go beyond the Islamic State’s previous known utterances on slavery, a leading Islamic State scholar said. It sheds new light on how the group is trying to reinterpret centuries-old teachings to justify the rape of women in the swaths of Syria and Iraq it controls.”*

Read more here: http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-islamic-state-sexslaves-idUSKBN0UC0DZ20151229

Islamic State Mass Yazidi Graves Unearthed In Iraq

Hundreds of Yazidis were executed by the terror group.
24/04/2016

Warning: Graphic content.

Human remains left in mass graves by self-proclaimed Islamic State militants are being unearthed by spring rains in Iraq.

In 2014 at least 500 members of the Yazidi Kurdish sect were “executed”, with some victims being buried alive.

Now the bones of Yazidis killed by the terror group, also known as Isis, have been discovered in Sinjar.

Yazidi genocide

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

Bones have been unearthed from one of the many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

Thousands of Yazidis were executed and buried by Islamic State militants in 2014.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and  buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and  buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

Human remains have been unearthed.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and  buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

Clothing has been found.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and  buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

Spring rains unearth teeth.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and  buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

One of many mass graves in Sinjar, Iraq, where thousands of Yazidis were exceuted and buried by ISIS in 2014. Photo taken April 4, 2016.

International organisations said that a formal exhumation process of the sites will begin soon, but exact starting times remain unknown and details vary.

Human bones, hair and clothing are among the items that have been found.

The Yazidi were described as “devil worshippers” by members of Isis at the time and those killed were given the option to convert to Islam or die.

The victims included women and children.

The persecution of the ancient minority, who lived in northern Iraq, took place as hundreds of women were taken captive and imprisoned in Mosul.

According to an official in Baghdad at the time, the prisoners were used or sold as sex slaves.
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Islamic State ‘Execute 500 Yazidis’ With Some Victims ‘Buried Alive’
At least 500 members of the Yazidi Kurdish sect have been “executed” by the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, with some victims “buried alive”, according to Iraq’s Human rights.

Article from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/islamic-state-mass-yazidi-graves-unearthed-in-iraq_uk_5717c6abe4b0f9085c2ccbf6

A Syrian witness to war – Something inside me broke

Mohammed Abdullah (Artino) joined the 2011 protests, was arrested, tortured, and later witnessed the chemical attack on Ghouta.

Assad Torture civilians protestor

Like many others, Mohammed Abdullah – Artino – lost a lot of weight after the siege took hold in Ghouta in May 2014 (Photo courtesy of Artino)

Mohammed Abdullah (Artino) spoke to Middle East Eye about his experiences since joining the Syrian protests in 2011, later becoming a war photographer who witnessed the Ghouta chemical attack.

I joined the protest movement in March 2011. It was a decision that cost me many friends and changed the course of all our lives. Those were heady, exciting days. There were so many of us. We really thought our peaceful protest could beat the system. When the older generation joined the movement we felt invincible.

I am an Alawite, like the al-Assad family and much of the military establishment. I had grown up seeing how people used and abused their influence and hated the corruption that was so rife in all parts of Syria. I wanted to live in a country where everyone could be seen as equal.

Assad prison torture peaceful protestors

Artino (left) at a protest in Zabadani (Feb 2012) (Photo courtesy of Artino)

After just a few weeks, I was filmed attending a funeral and arrested. I was taken to the notorious prison of the Mukhabarat, the Syrian secret police, where I was placed in solitary confinement, blindfolded and strapped to a chair. One guard was particularly bad. He must have been a big guy because I could feel his huge hands when he smashed me with his fists.

One day I fought back. “What have I done? Uncuff me, take off this mask! Why won’t you show me your face, are you a coward? Why can’t we talk man to man?” He went crazy, picked up the chair, and threw me against the wall.

I was also subjected to the infamous flying carpet where the prisoner is strapped down to a hinged board and the ends are brought together. The aim is to bend the spine and inflict maximum pain. The prison experience still haunts me. When I came out, I felt so unclean that I would spend hours in the shower.

Because my father was in the military, he was able to secure my release after a week, on payment of 60,000 Syrian Lira. He was an intelligence officer in the Syrian Air Force, part of the Mukhabarat no less. Both my parents were from Golan. My mother was Circassian, and a Sunni. She died while giving birth to me, her third son, so I was brought up by my maternal uncle and his wife.

I found out that the authorities were after me, so I escaped to Ghouta, a rural area to the east of the city where my adopted parents had a house. Soldiers regularly searched the area, and anyone deemed a rebel or traitor would be arrested or shot. So my mother dressed me in a khemar, traditionally worn by local women. Anyone who meets me can see I am hardly the most feminine of men, but there I stood swathed in layer upon layer of black cotton. Whenever we heard government forces were close-by, I would be told to go and sit with the women.

Barely getting out alive

As the protest movement developed into a full-scale war, I met the famous Serbian photographer, Goran Tomasevic. He took me on as his fixer, and I would organise his schedule and carry equipment.

Every day we would go up to the frontline and take pictures of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). I would wake at 4am and wait for one of the rebel soldiers to call. They would tell us where the fighting was likely to be. It was risky work and frightening seeing death and killing so close up.

Goran was crazy, he did not seem to feel fear. One January morning a sniper’s bullet missed my head by millimetres, he just turned to me and laughed: “Luckily you are so f**** short.”

Syria Assad regime kill prisoners

Another photojournalist snaps Artino lying down to take a shot (Jobar, Sept 2013) (Photo courtesy of Artino)

Another day we were waiting in an empty building when two or three grenades came whistling through the air, followed by heavy artillery barrage. The rebels fired back. Bullets were flying everywhere. For 30 minutes there was no let-up. Very slowly we inched into a cupboard in one of the back rooms. I cannot believe we got out of there alive.

Being an amateur photographer before the war, Goran became my teacher. He introduced me to Reuters so I started my career as a photojournalist. When my photos began to appear on the front pages of major international newspapers, I felt happy and proud. I am just a civilian. I am not a soldier. I am not a fighter. Neither of us expected this to be our job, but when our countries were burning we picked up a camera.

On my way to shoot a local brigade, I was hit by a shell. One moment I was walking down the street, the next I was in the air. When I came round I knew it was bad. My knee, thigh, shoulder, hand, the complete right side of my body was badly damaged. I was put in an old ambulance where all the glass had been blown out. As it careered along, I leaned out the window directing the driver away from pot-holes.

I was confined to my bed for two months. I was in pain – there were no painkillers – but also bored from being housebound. I pestered my friends to take me out. Reluctantly they would push me towards the frontline in my wheelchair so I could continue taking pictures.

Witnessing Ghouta

In August 2013, I witnessed the now infamous chemical attack in Ghouta. I was woken in the middle of the night with news of a gas attack. The next morning, despite several warnings not to go, I went to investigate myself. Nothing prepared me for what I saw: children, babies lying on the floor in their pajamas, so still and calm with no visible signs of injury. They looked like they were sleeping but all around was mayhem: everyone was screaming and crying, but the children were so still and other-worldly. I noticed their strange complexions; they had fluid coming out of their mouths and eyes. They were all dead. They say more than 400 children were killed.

I was paralysed. I could not move, let alone take a picture. As the feeling of nausea ebbed away, I found a doctor and I asked him: “How can you be sure this is chemical and not a normal death?” He himself was in shock, his colleague had died after inhaling the sarin gas. He carefully showed me the dark blue colour on their skin; the foam and vomit around their mouths were the signs of asphyxiation.

The bodies were laid out in schools and mosques, rows upon rows of them. I wandered from one building to the other taking photos. Something inside me broke: so many victims, survivors hallucinating and gasping for breath. Hell came to Eastern Gouta that day. Barack Obama said that if Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people there would be no other option but to intervene. We are still waiting.

I persuaded my parents to leave Ghouta because the whole area was besieged by government forces. The siege was getting tighter and the food we had stored would not last long. None of us choose to abandon our homes, but sometimes we just run out of options. My parents are in their fifties and living in a warzone is a huge burden.

Improve your body, improve your mind

Left alone for two months with a broken knee, I had to fend for myself as best as I could. I would crawl across the floor just to reach the bathroom. It was tough and humiliating but more than that I was fed up. I began reading avidly, finishing a novel each day and researching survival techniques on the internet. But it was not enough. I was powerless and my body was not mine anymore.

Then it hit me. I would start working out. If I could improve my body it would have a positive impact on my mental state. What 30-year-old guy does not want a six-pack? Did it matter that I was living under siege, in a country at war – no. As I posted the photos on Facebook, my friends commented wildly. They had seen too much blood and bullets, this was different, funny even, my quest for a beautiful body. Bit by bit, I started to gain strength and move again. I was proud of my developing abs. Perhaps they were not perfectly sculpted because I lacked the protein and fat necessary to build the muscle. It may seem strange that while my neighbours were scrambling to find enough food to feed their children, I worried about how I looked. This is what extreme situations do to you.

The calcium in my knee was decomposing, and the only long-term option was a knee transplant, something impossible in Ghouta. Every time I went to the field hospital to get my screws fixed, I could see my case was not a priority; people with life-threatening conditions could not get enough medicine. Hobbling around on a stick, I taught photography to children but I could not walk more than a few metres. The pain was unbearable.

Syria revolution

When he wasn’t taking photos himself Artino would teach children how to use a camera (Lebanon October 2014) (Photo courtesy of Artino)

Who can you trust?

I paid a smuggler $4,000 to provide me with a fake Syrian ID and take me to Lebanon. Before the war this journey was less than two hours, but it took us the best part of a month. I could not move fast due to the injury and there was fighting on all sides. You are moved from safe house to safe house, passed from group to group; sometimes it is the FSA and sometimes individuals who could be best described as gunrunners or bandits. It is a terrifying process, your heart is constantly in your mouth, you jump at any noise. Can you trust the smugglers or will they betray you to the government forces? We had to dodge the different armed groups, sleeping in bombed out buildings or sometimes outside.

After the bombs, the cold and hunger, I felt surrounded by luxury in Lebanon. When I asked my friend for a glass of water, I expected him to go over to the sink, but as he opened the fridge and the light flicked on, I broke down and wept. I was so overwhelmed and exhausted.

As I tried to establish my life there, I found I was forgetting small things: names and appointments. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I still had not been able to get my injuries fixed. I then learned of another option, resettlement.

‘I am just a regular metalhead’

I arrived in Europe towards the end of last year. People are astonished when I tell them I am from Syria. They have this image that we are all jihadis living in the desert with the camels. I have only seen one camel in my life. I am just a regular metalhead with a loud laugh and a few tattoos.

I learned my half-brother was killed in action earlier this year. He was a pro-government fighter, and died defending what he believed in. I have not spoken to that side of the family since the start of the uprising. My older brother is also in the army. We always had a difficult relationship, he would taunt me when I was a kid and blamed me for killing his mother. He texted me to say that I was a disgrace to my family and if he ever found me, he would kill me. He is so loyal that I feel for sure he would kill me if he could.

My real father died in 2014. While he still backed the government of Bashar al-Assad, he had accepted our differences. When he secured my release back at the start of all this, he told me that he was proud of me. “Your uncle has done a good job, he has ensured you a good education and you have inherited his good nature.” My father pleaded me to give it up, but knew I probably would not. He told me he was able to save me once, but if I got caught again there would be no more strings to be pulled.

Two weeks ago I underwent surgery, three years after my knee was first damaged by the shell. When I am physically fit I will go back home.

I miss home. Of course I miss home.

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Henrietta McMicking
Tuesday 19 April 2016 10:14 UTC

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/i-am-alawite-and-i-miss-home-918192142#sthash.EVZOLqik.dpuf

The ordeal of a 17-year-old Syrian in Assad’s detention centers

Syria Assad torture peaceful protestor to death

Unfortunately, not all of the revolutionaries who have ended up in Assad’s prisons have lived to tell their stories, but many of them have. The tales they tell of physical and psychological torture have often left scars that will take a long time to heal.

Omar was only 17 when he was arrested for his involvement in the peaceful protests in his hometown of Banyas.

On Nov. 16, 2012, Omar says he had gone to his aunt’s house in Al Bayda after Friday prayer.

Assad regime’s Air Force Security officers arrived at the house and arrested Omar and three of his cousins — Rashad, Basheer and Nour, all in their early twenties.

The four cousins were first taken to a detention center in Banyas where they were tortured and forced to make up stories to satisfy their tormentors.

Because Nour was with them, the three male cousins were treated more harshly in order to humiliate and break their spirits in front of her.

The jails in Banyas and Tartus were fairly empty when Omar and his cousins were there so the guards amused themselves with torturing their prisoners in a variety of ways.

The torture was conducted while the prisoners were blindfolded. Omar was hung by his cuffed hands and tortured with electricity until he agreed to talk.

Omar’s torturer asked him if he had been sufficiently “cooked” and when he said yes, his body was lowered and he was asked how many officers he had killed in his village.

Omar’s answer was; “Look at my face, I am 17 yrs old. Do you think I am capable of killing any officers?”

Angered by his response, the guard hung him up again and proceeded to electrocute him on different parts of his body, including his genitals.

There was also some type of fluid that was applied to his neck with a cotton ball which increased the effect of the electrical charge to an unbearable extent.

Omar said he was so delirious with pain that he would have confessed to anything — that his father was the one who killed many officers and his mother was the one who brought down their plane — just to stop the pain. But he was unable to speak.

When he was finally able to speak again, Omar began reciting the names of people he knew who were already well-known criminals.

Omar also says that those who had been tortured in Assad’s prisons were often given injections of drugs that allowed them to talk freely and must be excused for things they don’t remember saying.

Every night the cousins would whisper to each other from their cells. If one of them failed to respond, the others would fear they were dead.

They also compared stories about how each of them had been tortured. Basheer told Omar how they had opened a wound on his foot with a screwdriver.

Omar was moved 11 times; from detention centers in Banyas, to Tartus, to Homs, to Damascus and then to Al Qabun.

From Al-Qabun he was sent to the notorious Sednaya prison where he was held for one month before being referred to the military court.

The court sent him to the 291 “Death Branch” for one terrible day of indescribable torture before he was sent to 215 military prison where he was kept for the remainder of his detainment.

At 215 he was taken to the basement and examined by a doctor.

Omar said the prisoners he saw around him looked like skeletons. They huddled together and there were lots of dead and semi dead bodies on the floor with smelly wounds that oozed with infection.

After four days of wandering with no place to sit, an officer began questioning Omar about his cousin Nour and where she had supposedly gotten explosive materials for making bombs.

Omar eventually learned by word of mouth that his cousins were also being held in 215.

On March, 2013, Omar’s cousin Rashad died under torture. Rashad’s brother Basheer was so worried about how he would tell his mother that Rashad was dead when he got out.

He need not have worried for Basheer also died from pneumonia while still in prison in 2014.

Omar says that a fellow prisoner, a sheikh named Yasser Abdul Kareem, helped him and the other prisoners to maintain their sanity. He was their psychologist, their nurse, their spiritual advisor, their everything Omar said.

During his time in 215 Omar’s job was to record the numbers of the dead bodies and help dispose of them. He said the number had reached over 8,000 while he was there.

When four of their fellow prisoners were shot during an attempted jailbreak, their bodies were left where they fell for a week and then hung up as an example to the rest.

The prisoners were responsible for throwing the bodies of the dead unto the truck that came around each week to pick them up… Omar says the bodies sometimes fall apart as they tried to lift them.

Omar recalls that one of the men they were supposed to dispose of was still breathing. The guard forced them to throw him onto the pile of dead bodies anyways.

June 11, 2015, Omar was released. The prison guards had begun accepting bribes from family members of prisoners in exchange for their release.

It wasn’t until after his release that Omar learned his father had also been martyred during the Banyas massacre in 2013.

Omar is one of the fortunate refugees who managed to make his way into Europe through Turkey and Greece.

He is currently undergoing treatment for Tuberculosis in Sweden and says that no one comes out of Syria’s Branch 215 prison physically or mentally whole.

Orient Net – Yasser Ashkar Publication Date: 2016-04-20 11:00
Article from: http://orient-news.net/en/news_show/109666/0/The-ordeal-of-a–year-old-Syrian-in-Assads-detention-centers

Shocking reality of barrel bombing in besieged city of Daraya

In late January 2013, during the Syrian Civil War, the bodies of approximately 110 men and boys, most with hands bound behind the back, mouths sealed with tape, and gunshot wounds to the head, were found on the edges of the river in a part of Aleppo controlled by opposition forces. Very few of the victims were over 30. Many victims showed signs of torture.

‘This video shows in shocking close-up detail what civilians in Daraya have had to live through’ – Magdalena Mughrabi

The shocking reality of the Syrian government’s barrel bombing of the besieged city of Daraya, near Damascus, is shown in brutal detail in a new video released by Amnesty International today amid the latest round of peace talks in Geneva.

The video, shot by civilians in Daraya between 2014 and late February this year, includes unseen footage not previously made public. It shows scenes of Syrian government forces’ barrel bombs falling and exploding inside the city, interspersed with civilians – including children and the elderly – describing the sheer terror of living under such relentless attacks in a city under siege.

In one harrowing scene, an injured young boy lies alongside the corpse of his brother who was killed in a barrel bomb attack, weeping and begging: “My brother, please don’t leave me.” In another scene, a bespectacled young girl with curly hair says when asked about the bombs: “They want to kill me”.

Daraya has endured thousands of barrel bombs on top of more than three years of crippling siege by Syrian government forces. According to data collected by the Local Council of Daraya City, around 6,800 barrel bombs have been dropped there between January 2014 until the “cessation of hostilities” agreement on 26 February 2016.

The resulting damage and destruction is evident from countless videos and other images. At least 42 civilians, including 17 children, have been killed by these imprecise explosive weapons. According to local activists, a further 1,200 civilians have been injured. Local activists believe that the death toll would almost certainly be higher except for the fact that residents have become so used to rushing to shelters whenever helicopters are spotted.

Although no barrel bombs have been dropped on Daraya since the partial “cessation of hostilities” came into effect on 26 February, there have been attacks with other weaponry and thousands of civilians who remain in the city continue to suffer from severe food and medical shortages and no electricity. Most of Daraya’s original residents fled the devastation years ago and now only between 4,000 and 8,000 remain, a fraction of its original population.

Amnesty International interim Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Magdalena Mughrabi said:

“This video shows in shocking close-up detail what civilians in Daraya have had to live through.

“It is absolutely outrageous – though not surprising – that the Syrian government has continued to bombard and starve its own civilians. And it is unacceptable that the UN and other influential international players are not doing more to address the critical situation in Daraya and other besieged locations.

“Every day that goes by without aid delivery means that the humanitarian crisis in Daraya worsens.”

Humanitarian crisis amid siege of Daraya
In addition to widespread and large-scale destruction caused by the thousands of barrel bombs dropped on Daraya, government forces have cut off the city and not allowed in any humanitarian aid at all since November 2012.

Medical workers are severely under-resourced to cope with the scale of the humanitarian crisis they face. The besieged city’s only remaining field hospital has been targeted 15 times by government forces. Daraya’s Medical Office sent Amnesty lists of more than 100 medicines, supplies and equipment it urgently needs. Among the items they lack are: antibiotics, painkillers and anaesthetics; disinfectants and other cleaning supplies; and equipment including dialysis machines, CT scanners and hospital beds and cots.

Amnesty is insisting that the Syrian government allows urgently-needed aid into Daraya, in compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and binding UN Security Council resolutions. The International Syria Support Group and UN agencies, especially the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, must ensure this is made to happen for Daraya and all other besieged locations.

Crude but deadly weapons
Barrel bombs are crude but deadly weapons fashioned out of oil barrels, fuel tanks or gas cylinders, which are packed with explosives, fuel and metal fragments and dropped from helicopters and planes. They are by definition imprecise and must never be used in the vicinity of civilians. Amnesty hopes the harrowing eyewitness footage from Daraya will spur the international community to re-double its demands on the Syrian government to grant immediate lifesaving humanitarian access to Daraya and all areas still under siege.

#360Syria “virtual tour” website
Last month Amnesty launched a #360Syria “virtual tour” website showing the devastation wrought by Syrian government barrel bombing of the besieged city of Aleppo. The site (www.360Syria.com) comprises specially-created 360-degree photography, narration, sound recordings, 3-D data graphics and videos gathered by Amnesty-trained Syrian media activists. The innovative site is designed to take the viewer into Aleppo’s rubble-strewn streets for an “immersive” virtual reality-like experience. Visitors can navigate around full-screen “photospheres” which capture the apocalyptic scenes and sounds after barrel bombing attacks. The images also feature the brave rescue efforts of unarmed civilian volunteers – the “White Helmets” – from the Syrian Civil Defence teams.