east ghouta

Surviving as a child in the longest military siege in modern history

15-year-old Muhammad Najem from Eastern Ghouta (Twitter: @muhammadnajem20)

The Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, Syria is home to more than 350,000 people. Once renowned for its fertile soils and rich agricultural production, Eastern Ghouta is now better known for the Assad regime’s brutal Sarin attack in August 2013, killing more than 1,500 people, and for being home to the longest military siege in modern history. As of February 2018, Eastern Ghouta has been besieged by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for four years and 10 months, a full year longer than the siege of Sarajevo.


During that time Eastern Ghouta has suffered from chemical weapons attacks and intense bombardment at the hands of pro-regime forces, with hundreds killed in the first few days of February alone. Amnesty International have condemned the Syrian government and its allies, saying that its ‘surrender or starve‘ policy amounts to a crime against humanity.


Half of Eastern Ghouta’s population are estimated to be children according to UNICEF. A recent survey of 27 locations in East Ghouta conducted in November 2017 has found that the proportion of children under five years old suffering from acute malnutrition was 11.9 per cent.



15-year-old Syrian boy Muhammad Najem inspects the damage at his school in Eastern Ghouta following regime bombardment. (Twitter @muhammadnajem20)

My name is Muhammad Najem and I am from eastern Ghouta in the Damascus countryside, I am 15-years-old I live here with my mother and siblings.


I am in eighth grade but I stopped studying three months ago because of the constant bombardment of the place in which I live.


My school was bombed by warplanes more than once but after each raid, we would return and try to complete our studies. But my school was bombed until it was completely destroyed and I no longer have a classroom within which to study or a playground to play in.


Schools destroyed


The other schools in Eastern Ghouta have also been targeted and destroyed.
I want to tell the world what is happening to us today and convey my suffering, which I live through every day because of the bombings and the siege.


I want to tell the truth and to tell people what is happening to us. We are besieged, we are hungry, we are under constant bombardment, we are exhausted from the displacement and the killing.

This war is not ending, but we are forced to grow up in these conditions and no one has done anything to protect and support the vulnerable here. Conferences and meetings and false peace talks fail while the Arabs and the rest of the world are still silent.


In this war we have already lost everything, and we are still losing more, every single day, every single one of us has lost something precious.


Losing my home and my father


I lost my house, which my father built with hard work and the sweat from his forehead. Then my father was killed two years ago after a shell landed on the mosque where he was praying.


Many of the children here have lost their fathers or their mothers, many of us have lost siblings and many of us have lost our homes.


We have been dismembered, we have lost parts of our bodies, our hands, our feet and our eyes.


The world will not be able to compensate us for anything that we lost. We have lost sight of the sky and the sun because of the war planes that fly over us day and night in order to bomb civilians.

Muhammad Najem studies by candlelight in the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta (Twitter: @muhammadnajem20)

The siege surrounds us. The specter of death and starvation hovers over us.


Last week the regime began to escalate its violent campaign against us. Planes indiscriminately drop bombs of hatred and destruction on us.


On Thursday, warplanes mounted yet more raids on residential buildings. Everyone went down to the cellars and we could hear the roar of the jets above us as we held each other’s hands.

muhammad najem‏ @muhammadnajem20 One of my friends was killed and the other was injured. This is the picture of my friend Salim after leaving the hospital yesterday after the violent raids on his house near my house. I love you so much and wish you and all the children of the world peace and safety❤ #saveghouta


I was walking in the street with some of my friends, including my friend Salim who lives next door to us when we heard the sound of jets approaching. We fled to the cellar, but Salim ran to his home to hide with his family and uncle. He did not know that at that moment six missiles were on their way to his house.


Smoke and black dust


Smoke and black dust filled the cellar, choking us and filling the cellar with darkness. Children cried and the women screamed as they tried to check on their terrified children.


When the dust settled, we saw that Salim’s house was completely destroyed and the Civil Defense teams were attempting to rescue the people, including Salim and his family, trapped under the rubble.


After hours of searching through the rubble, I found out that Salim had miraculously survived. But his younger sister had died, his mother suffered life-changing injuries and his younger brother is still missing. Salim’s little cousins Mohammed, Majid and Raghad were also killed in the air strike.


I find it hard to believe the life we are witnessing here in Ghouta. Today I am reassured at least because Salim has left the hospital, but he is unable to move because of his injury. We do not know what tomorrow will bring.

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/news/world/surviving-child-longest-military-siege-modern-history/

Help Syria now Tomorrow it may be too late

The award-winning Syrian writer and analyst Yassin al-Haj Saleh wrote this letter two years ago

Help Syria now. Tomorrow it may be too late
By Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Wednesday 10 July 2013 04.00 EDT

Russian weapon kill syrian
A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. Moscow has a contract for the delivery of the S-300s to Syria. ‘Everything will be different in post-Assad Syria but worse is to watch Syrians getting killed by Russian arms.’ Photograph: Str/AP

An open letter to friends and leaders of public opinion in the west: current policy is short-sighted and inhumane
Dear friends,

Three months ago, I left the city of Damascus, where life had become too oppressive, to go to the “liberated” area of East Ghouta. An area that had 2 million inhabitants before the uprising, East Ghouta is now populated by only around one million. It was a base from which the rebels headed towards the capital, but is now completely besieged by the regime’s forces due to renewed support from Russia and Iran, and the arrival of Iran-sponsored Iraqi and Lebanese militias. During the past three months, I have personally witnessed the staggering lack of arms, ammunition, and even food for the fighters. Many of them would get two meals a day at most, and their situation would have been immeasurably worse had they not been local residents, protecting their own towns and families, and living off their own kin.

The cities and towns that I have seen or lived in during these months are subjected to daily and random air strikes and mortar and rocket shelling. Victims, mostly civilians, fall every day. In a centre for civil defence where I lived for a month I used to see all the bodies brought in. Some were indistinguishable remains, others belonged to children, and among the victims was a six-month fetus lost by a terrified mother. Not a single day passed during that month without victims; two or three usually, but nine on one day, 28 on another, and 11 on a third.

Besides civilians, several fighters are killed every day by the arms of a superior power, with superior support.

The entire area has not had power for eight months. Therefore, people depend on numerous easily broken generators that consume a lot of gasoline at a time when this is becoming increasingly scarce, which in turn forces people to stop using their fridges despite the soaring heat. Land and mobile telephone networks are all cut. In the last week, wheat has become scarce as well. I have only been eating twice a day. It is OK so far. The new diet has helped me lose 10 kilograms.

Worst of all, however, is the increasing number of people who are being buried in a hurry and without dignity. People are scared to linger near the cemeteries and be targeted by new missiles. We – myself and a number of friends – are still alive. In Damascus, we faced the constant possibility of arrest and insufferable torture. Here we are safe from that, but not from a missile that could land on our heads at any minute.

One of the most remarkable things I noticed during my first few days here was that Friday prayers were called for at 9am in one mosque, half an hour later in another mosque, and then in others with half an hour between each. The purpose was to avoid gathering a large number of people in one place so as not to allow the regime to kill the most people possible. The regime tried before, and in one city, there are five destroyed mosques.

More painful is that more than two-thirds of the children are not enrolled in schools, either because their parents are too terrified to let them out of their sight, or because there are very few schools available. Those that are still open are all underground to avoid shelling, and several hospitals are there too.

People fight here with absolute defiance because they realise that a big massacre awaits them if the regime succeeds in regaining control over the area. Those who are not killed immediately will be arrested and tortured savagely. The options of the people are to either die resisting the aggression of a fascist regime or to be killed by this same regime in the worst way possible. People shudder with fear, and I myself shudder, at the thought that this regime might rule us again.

The current situation is the direct result of the unwillingness of great powers to support the Syrian revolutionaries, while the allies of the regime have not only continued to support it with money, men, and weapons, but increased this support in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Finally, after the world established that the regime used chemical weapons, (something I documented myself and verified with friends who have the necessary personal expertise), and after the regime had secured the world’s approval of its use of air force and long-distance rockets against cities and residential neighbourhoods, after all that western powers have decided to support the revolutionaries with arms for the purpose of re-establishing ‘balance’ whose disruption in favour of the regime they themselves had facilitated.

This policy is not only short-sighted, nor is it just going to prolong the conflict, it is deeply inhumane. There are no two equal evils in Syria – as most of the western media claims, contrary to the reports of the United Nations and international organizations. There is a fascist regime that has already killed more than 100,000 of its own people, on one hand, and a diverse umbrella of revolutionaries, of which some had been radicalised due to the longevity of the conflict and the weakening resistance of Syrian society towards radicalism. The longer the Syrians are left alone to die the more likely it is that the radical groups will gain strength and the voice of reason and moderation will grow weak. From my personal experience, this is exactly what is happening. Whenever new victims fell, especially children, people at the civil defence centre would look at me with probing eyes. They wonder what value the “reasonable” language I use has anymore.

There is only one right thing today, from a Syrian and a human standpoint: to help the Syrians rid themselves of the Assad dynasty that acts as if Syria is their fief and Syrians their serfs. Everything will be difficult in post-Assad Syria, but removing Assad will set a new more moderate dynamic in Syrian society, and will allow Syrians to stand against those more radical among them. Much worse than this would be to allow this conflict to fester and for its human and material cost to rise; worse is to watch Syrians getting killed by Russian arms, and in the hands of local, Lebanese and Iranian murderers, worse too would be to impose a settlement that does not punish the criminals and does not resolve Syrian problems.

US and western politicians often insist that there can’t be a military solution to the Syrian conflict. But where is the political solution? When did Bashar Assad say during the past 28 months and after more than 100,000 deaths that he is willing to enter into serious negotiations with the opposition in order to share power? The truth is that there won’t be a political solution without forcing Assad to step down, now, and with him all the masters of killing in his regime.

Our dear friends, I address you today because the Syrian tragedy has become one of the world’s biggest and most dangerous problems today. It has displaced more than a third of the population, internally and externally; there are hundreds of thousands of people injured or disabled, and what amounts to a quarter of million detainees who are being subjected to horrific torture.

We implore you as leaders of public opinion in your countries to pressure your governments to assume a clear stance against Assad and in favour of an end to his regime. This is the only human and progressive thing to do; and there is nothing more fascist and reactionary in today’s world than a regime that kills its people, imports killers and mercenaries from abroad, and stirs up a sectarian war that might not stop before it takes the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

We look to your support today. Tomorrow might be too late.

Article from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/10/help-syria-now-tomorrow-too-late

Endless chemical attacks in Syria but useless international action

syria assad chlorine gas bomb attack on children

Helicopters from Bashar Al-Assad’s regime attacked the Syrian village of Sarmin in Idlib province last week, dropping barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas that killed at least six people and wounded dozens more, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and pro-opposition Local Coordination Committees reported.

“There is extreme fear and panic among the people of Sarmin, combined with serious population displacement,” said Abdullah Jada’an, an activist from Idlib. “They are waiting for the international community to penalize the Syrian regime.”

Multiple sources have also claimed that residents of the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Al-Qadam were targeted on Tuesday overnight by a gas attack; the number of victims is not yet known.

These attacks came two weeks after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria; it stressed that those who use such weapons will be held accountable. The resolution, however, did not specify the perpetrators of the known chemical attacks, but promised to take action if it such attacks occur again.

Footage from the attack on Sarmin revived memories of the faces of those who were targeted in the August 2013 chemical attack on East Ghouta, near Damascus; civilians, including children, were unable to breathe and were choking to death. The world powers failed to hold the regime accountable for the attack in 2013. They did, however, strip the Assad regime of its chemical arsenal thanks to a US-Russian agreement under Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention to prevent such crimes.

“I think the international community is completely ignoring what is going on in Syria,” said Samir Nashar, a Syrian opposition figure and member of the Syrian National Coalition. “Bashar Al-Assad derives his strength from [the weakness of] the international community. As such, he is using internationally prohibited weapons repeatedly.”

After obtaining reports confirming the use of chemical weapons, the UN drafted four resolutions to intervene militarily in Syria, but all four were blocked by Russia’s veto which, along with China’s, protected Assad’s grip on power in Syria. The UN failure to intervene has destroyed the hopes of many Syrians that the international community will really hold Assad and his regime accountable.

The US has had a strained relationship with Syria since 2003, when it threatened sanctions due to Assad’s development of chemical weapons; Damascus denied the American allegations. Prior to the regime’s first attack using chemical weapons, US President Barack Obama warned that a chemical weapon attack would make the US minded to intervene in Syria.

In mid-2013, Assad’s forces used Sarin gas in an area near Damascus. Obama was close to declaring a war against the Syrian regime before changing his stance after brokering a deal with Russia, Assad’s main ally.

In June 2014, a joint mission of the UN and the Netherlands-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that the removal of Assad’s chemical weapons materials was complete. Chlorine gas was not included in the disarmament agreement, however, though it is considered to be a chemical weapon internationally. Damascus did not list chlorine on the declaration of its chemical weapons arsenal.

In response, the Syrian opposition issued a statement condemning the use of chlorine gas as part of the attack on Sarmin, calling on the UN Security Council to investigate the incident. “We call on the Security Council to send a fact-finding mission to the scene as quickly as possible and investigate the regime’s use of chlorine gas. Assad knows that he can get away with murder… Unless the UN Security Council takes enforceable measures to ensure accountability,” added opposition spokesman Salem Al-Meslet in a separate statement.

The OPCW concluded its fact-finding mission to Syria recently and announced that chlorine gas was used “systematically and repeatedly” in northern Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks made it clear that he believes that the whole world must condemn the attack and indicated the need for an investigation. “The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism,” said Kerry. “The Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms.”

According to Samir Nashar, the current priority for American foreign policy, which he thinks dictates international policy, is its discussions with Tehran over Iran’s nuclear capability. “If an agreement [with Iran] is signed by the beginning of the [next] month, I believe that major shifts will happen,” he concluded.

Chemical Chlorine gas attacked on Idlib city 29-31st, March 2015

Chemical Chlorine gas attacked on Sarmin near Idlib on March 26, 2015

Chemical Chlorine gas attacked on Binnish, Idlib on March 24, 2015

Chemical Chlorine gas attacked on Qmenas, Idlib on March 23, 2015

Chemical Chlorine gas attacked on Sarmin near Idlib on March 16, 2015

Abdulrahman Al-Masri is a freelance journalist based in Canada. His work covers politics and news in the Middle East, and Syria in particular. He analyses international politics and the crises in the region, bringing attention to the way that foreign interests influence conflicts. Follow him on twitter at @AbdulrhmanMasri.

Article published on Thursday, 26 March 2015


SOS- Syria Assad Kills Freedom with Tanks

What the Syrian people want?
Stop Killing People
We Want Freedom
UN: SOS – Al Assad Killing our Children/ We need Acts/ Stop the Massacre
People are being Killed by your Silence
Hit Assad Down/ Let Syria Shine
4 Years of Assad’s Massacre and the World Still Asleep
Assad Stop Killing Children
Where is your Humanity?

Syria Assad massacre his own people

Syria Assad Regime Continue Air Raid on Christmas Day

42 regime air raids on East Ghouta on Christmas day 26-12-2014. Over 200 civilians dead and wounded in Aleppo air raids, including many children

Syria Assad Regime dropped bombson populated area on Christmas day

26-12-2014: Assad’s warplanes and helicopter gunships carried out 42 air raids on towns and villages across the East Ghouta region of Damscus province on Christmas day, with targets including Deir al Asafir, Douma, Duwair and Harasta, resulting in large numbers of casualties. The regime air force also targeted Jobar in Damascus with four air raids.

In Aleppo province, more than 200 civilians were killed or wounded in multipe air strikes on the towns of Al Bab and Kobasi, according to locals speaking to the Syria Direct network . Another 36 civilians, mostly children, died in local field hospitals of wounds sustained in the air raids on the two towns, according to the ‘Medecins Sans Frontiers’ organisation.

The regime airforce also carried out dozens of air raids on villages in Idlib province using TNT-filled barrel bombs.

In Hama province, meanwhile, the Hama Media Centre reported that regime helicopter gunships dropped more than 15 TNT-filled barrel bombs on the towns of Kafr Zita and Al-Latamneh, as well as villages in the surrounding hills, including Karoum, Bazaq and Jubaa.
The regime air force also carried out 18 air raids on villages in Quneitra province, with heavy fighting continuing between regime and resistance forces in rural areas of the province.

Meanwhile in Daraa province, Assad’s helicopter gunships dropped four more barrel bombs on Bosr al Harir.

In Homs province, many people were wounded, mostly children, in regime warplanes’ and helicopter gunships’ bombardment of the town of Rastan, while in Talbiseh, also in northern Homs province, Assad’s air force and ground forces subjected the town and surrounding areas to its east to heavy bombardment.

Syria Bashar al-Assad