daraya

Mourning the Syria That Might Have Been

How Assad’s forces bombed a democratic experiment into oblivion.

By Christian Caryl
September 16, 2016

The photo shows a March 9, 2016 protest by local women and children in Daraya, who were calling on the government to allow for the delivery of food to the besieged city.

The photo shows a March 9, 2016 protest by local women and children in Daraya, who were calling on the government to allow for the delivery of food to the besieged city.

 

Earlier this week, when the latest ceasefire in Syria’s long-running civil war took effect, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seized the opportunity to embark on a triumphant tour of a place that has long defied him. He paid a visit to the city of Daraya, a Damascus suburb where rebels managed to resist his forces for four long years until they finally agreed to give up control in the last week of August.

For those four years the government threw everything it had at Daraya.

For those four years the government threw everything it had at Daraya. The troops surrounding it tried to starve it out, refusing to let aid convoys bring food to residents. Syrian helicopters pounded the city with barrel bombs, weapons of indiscriminate terror that have little or no military utility. In August, the Syrian air force used rockets and napalm to obliterate the city’s last surviving hospital. Some observers believe this was part of a calculated effort to make the place completely uninhabitable.

We’ve seen the same brutality in far too many places in this war. But there was something different about Daraya — something that helps to explain why Assad was so keen to celebrate its fall.

If you only follow the headlines, you can be forgiven for seeing this war primarily as a fight between two equally nasty alternatives: the totalitarian Baath Party regime of Assad or the totalitarian theocracy of the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. But this is a drastic simplification — one that both Assad and the terrorists want their own supporters, and the world, to believe. But it is certainly truer today than it was back at the beginning of the conflict. By their very nature, civil wars have a tendency to foster extremes. The ruthless are rewarded, while the moderates and the evolutionary reformers tend to get culled out.

The first protests against Assad’s dictatorship were peaceful: Demonstrators were demanding democracy, not rule by Al Qaeda.

That’s exactly what has happened in Syria. Today, five years later, it’s easy to forget that Syria’s revolution started off amid the optimism of the Arab Spring. The first protests against Assad’s dictatorship were peaceful: Demonstrators were demanding democracy, not rule by Al Qaeda.

And Daraya was one of the birthplaces of this movement. In the revolution’s early stages it was the home of the activist Ghiyath Matar, known as “Little Gandhi” for his quixotic embrace of non-violence. When Assad’s soldiers arrived to crush local protests, he greeted them with flowers and water. They responded by torturing him to death. His corpse was later returned to his family with its throat torn out. The country’s downward spiral began.

In The Morning They Came for Us, her bloodcurdling account of the early stages of the war, journalist Janine di Giovanni explains what happened next. When she visited Daraya in 2012, locals gave her detailed accounts of a massacre conducted by government troops who had briefly managed to wrest the town away from the rebels. “It was punished,” she told me, “because it was a symbol of peaceful resistance.”

Yet even amid the descending darkness, the people of the city tried to hold on to their ideals. When Assad’s generals realized they couldn’t take the place back, they placed it under siege. Hunger became the government’s most potent weapon. “‘What did you eat today?’ I’d ask them,” di Giovanni recalls. “‘Grape leaves, some salt.’ They took leaves from the trees and made soup out of them.” Much of the population left, but several thousand locals, many of them activists, remained. In October 2012 they set up a council to govern themselves, and in the years that followed, even as life became nearly impossible, they persisted in holding regular elections — “every six months, inside every single office and department of the local government,” says Hussam Ayash, a spokesperson for the local council.

Most importantly of all, he told me, the local government persisted in maintaining its independence from the city’s militia, a non-jihadist unit of the rebel Free Syrian Army. In many other rebel-controlled parts of Syria, Ayash explained, local governments have frequently fallen under the sway of fighters, many of them Islamist extremists. By contrast, Al Qaeda and its ilk never managed to get a foothold in Daraya. “We had no services,” says Ayash. “We had no communications. We had no water. But also nobody could get in or get out. The only fighters in Daraya were the local people. So we had no jihadists.”

Ayash spoke to me on Skype from northern Syria, where he is now living after being “evacuated” from Daraya by government forces in the days following the city’s surrender on August 25. When the Syrian army managed to capture a key position on the outskirts of the city, Daraya’s leaders saw the writing on the wall, and accepted a government offer of safe passage to the north in return for their surrender of control over the community. This uncharacteristically lenient gesture by Assad was a shrewd move, one that enabled him to finally seize control of a key rebel stronghold at relatively low cost to his own troops. It was also calculated to undermine the resolve of rebel holdouts in other hard-pressed areas, who may now see a deal with the government as a more palatable option than continued resistance.

It’s hard to overestimate the psychological impact of the city’s fall.

It’s hard to overestimate the psychological impact of the city’s fall. Fadi Mohammed, another Daraya activist, told me that the city embodied the hopes of the many Syrians who reject extremists of all stripes. He cites one occasion, early on, when protesters formed a human chain around the local government building to protect it from attack by pro-government forces, and recalls the city’s devotion to the principle of civilian control. “If the experience in Daraya had been protected and supported by the international community, it could have been a model,” he says. “Many people around Syria regarded Daraya as something special.” That’s a big “if,” of course. But it’s hard to dismiss the thought out of hand.

“The loss of Darayya is a watershed in Syria’s war,” wrote analyst Sam Heller of The Century Foundation in a recent blogpost. “For many in Syria’s opposition, Darayya represented the best of the Syrian revolution — a bastion of civil activism and nationalist, ‘Free Syrian Army’ rebels that held together and persevered for years against overwhelming odds, even as rebel-held areas elsewhere slid sideways into jihadism and factional infighting.”

To be sure, Daraya is also a place of considerable military significance. As Faysal Itani, an analyst at Washington’s Atlantic Council, points out, the city is just a few miles south of Damascus proper, and close to a key government airfield. “My own perception has always been that this is the most important geography of the war,” he told me. The surrender of Daraya and other areas near Damascus to government forces are, he says, “the most significant military victories of the war” — victories that owe a great deal, he says, to Russia’s forceful intervention on Assad’s behalf.

Now the government has succeeded in completely emptying the city of the people who lived there, and there are rumors that Assad intends to replace its rebellious Sunnis with members of other sectarian groups who are loyal to his regime. “What happened in Daraya is ethnic cleansing,” says di Giovanni, who notes that the practice of expelling civilians and replacing them with others is a direct violation of international law. “This will set a terrible precedent.” The situation is so dire that even the otherwise mealy-mouthed United Nations has seen fit to utter a few critical words about the expulsion of the city’s last inhabitants.

Daraya’s supporters often speak of it as an “experiment” in self-government and democratic practice. The question now is whether that experiment should be regarded as a failure, or whether its survivors can keep it alive at a time when their spirit of moderation and pragmatism looks like a throwback to a distant era.

Its example remains tantalizing. Here is a case where Syrians stubbornly stuck to the principles of civilized government even under the most forbidding circumstances. And that, clearly, amounts to a particularly potent challenge to Assad’s ruling Baath Party. “This idea of the choice, that you only have Assad or ISIS, it’s not right,” as Ayash put it. “Actually you have another choice, and this choice is us. We are looking for a future, and we think that we’ll have a decent future if we are free, with dignity.”

The sad reality, though, is that Daraya’s fall is a huge blow to this dream, and democratically minded Syrians everywhere are mourning. And this is precisely why the Syrian president decided to take his victory lap there. “It’s a real coup for Assad,” says di Giovanni. “He hated Daraya. It was everything he loathed.”

Article from: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/09/16/mourning-the-syria-that-might-have-been/#syria-that-might-have-been/

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.

Enforced Disappearance in Syria by Assad Regime

A prisoner’s Dream

I dream of seeing my family even if only for one hour.
I want to kiss my kdis and make sure they are alive.
Even if I come back to die, I don’t mind.
_____________________________________________________________

I dream of getting out of here.
I don’t wanna waste my life here.
If I am released now, I may still be able to catch up with my
University exams…
Maybe, I wouldn’t lose that much then…

_____________________________________________________________

I dream of an antibiotic pill to cure the skin inflammation
and dimples that are eating me up.
I want to get rid of the humiliation and the ugliness of my
“scales-like” skin so that those who carry my body for burial
would not be disgusted and my cell-mates are not repulsed by
the rotting smell.

_____________________________________________________________

I am craving for a piece of pistachio sweets.

_____________________________________________________________

Detained doctor: ‘Prisoners just want to die to end the pain’


Save The Rest
Published on Sep 22, 2015

This is what’s happening in Assad’s prisons #SaveTheRest … They deserve to live freely!
هذا جزء مما يحصل في سجون الأسد : ورود سوريا وخيرة أبناء سوريا وبناتها تغتال بصمت… أنقذوا البقية .. لأننا نحتاجهم .. لأنهم يستحقون الحياة

Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Civil War

Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War has been confirmed by the United Nations. The deadliest attacks were the Ghouta attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the Khan al-Asal attack in the suburbs of Aleppo in March 2013. Several other attacks have been alleged, reported and investigated.

A U.N. fact-finding mission and a UNHRC Commission of Inquiry have simultaneously investigated the attacks. The U.N. mission found likely use of the nerve agent Sarin in the case of Khan Al-Asal (19 March 2013), Saraqib (29 April 2013), Ghouta (21 August 2013), Jobar (24 August 2013) and Ashrafiyat Sahnaya (25 August 2013). The UNHRC commission later confirmed the use of Sarin in the Khan al-Asal, Saraqib and Ghouta attacks, but did not mention the Jobar and the Ashrafiyat Sahnaya attacks.That Sarin was used in Khan al-Asal was also the conclusion of the Russian investigation of the attack.

The UNHRC commission also found that the Sarin used in the Khan al-Asal attack bore “the same unique hallmarks” as the Sarin used in the Ghouta attack and indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to chemicals from the Syrian Army’s stockpile.

The victims’ symptoms described by medics – were consistent with exposure to a nerve agent, including shortness of breath, disorientation, runny nose, eye irritation, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, general weakness, and eventual loss of consciousness.

Syria Assad Regime chemical attack on civilians

Assad Syria War chemical attack

Syria Assad regime chemical sarin nerve agent

Syria Assad Regime's chemical weapon

 Syria Assad regime's chemical weapons stockpile

Syria chemical agent use: sarin nerve agent

Syria Assad Chemical Attack War Crime

Syria Assad chemical weapons attack allegation

Syrian chemical weapons massacre

Syrian Civil War - Chemical Attack by Assad regime

Chemical weapons used by Syria president Bashar al-Assad against his own people

Syria chemical attack: What we know
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23927399

Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Civil War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_of_chemical_weapons_in_the_Syrian_civil_war

Ghouta chemical attack
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghouta_chemical_attack

Another massacre in Douma by Assad Regime Airstrikes

Another massacre in Douma after Assad’s airstrikes: Blood, children, screams, bodies lying everywhere on September 11, 2014

At least 20 civilians dead & 150 wounded in Douma, Damascus in an Assad airstrike!

Syria Assad regime barrel bombing Douma Damascus indiscriminately



Bashar al-Assad

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashar_al-Assad

Syria’s Deadly ‘Barrel Bombs’: Assad Regime Uses Devastating, Makeshift Weapon

http://world.time.com/2014/01/13/syrias-deadly-barrel-bombs-assad-regime-uses-devastating-makeshift-weapon/

#Syria #ASSAD #AssadCrimes #AssadWarcrimes #AssadGenocide #AssadHolocaust #syria_crisis #syria_conflict #syriacivilwar #torture #syrian_torture #syrian_refugees #childrenofsyria #Damascus #Aleppo #homs #daraa #raqqa #syriaassad #syrian, #freesyria #syriacrisis #alllivesmatter #humanrights #bashar #al-assad #basharalassad #torturereport #AssadRegime #Assad #freedom #douma #Syrie #NO2VETO #humanrights #humanity #JeSuisCharlie #SaveSyriasChildren #FRANCE #QUÉBEC #CANADA #AUSTRALIA #USA #UK #EU #RUSSIA #CHINA #CUBA #VENEZUELA #GERMANY #UKRAINE #FSA #Jordan #Turkey #Lebanon #Iraq

Assad’s Regime War on Syrian Children

5,375 of explosive TNT barrels thrown by Assad’s warplanes over the Syria cities claimed the lives of 6,493, almost 97% of them were civilians.

Assad's Regime Attrocites

Syrian Bloody Civil War – 3 million refugees and counting

Almost three million people have fled across Syria’s borders to escape the bloody civil war that has engulfed the country. The daily flow of men, women and children has become one of the largest forced migrations since World War Two.

 Help Syrian Children – Donate now!

The Historic Scale of Syria’s Refugee Crisis

Read more articles:

How to help Syrian refugees
http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/06/world/iyw-how-to-help-syrian-refugees/

Syria’s refugee exodus
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24900116