syria 2013

SYRIA. Damascus governorate. Damascus. January 30, 2013. Free Syrian Army fighters take cover as a tank shell explodes on a wall after their comrade was shot by sniper fire during heavy fighting in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood.

First place, spot news stories at the 2014 World Press Photo Contest.

Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Women,part of the Sawt al-Haq (Voice of Rights), stand with their weapons as they undergo military training in Aleppo, Syria, on February 17, 2013. A group of women are undergoing military training to form the Nazek Obeid group, based on the frontline of Aleppo’s Sheikh Saeed neighborhood. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)


Kurdish female fighters stand guard at a check point near the northeastern city of Qamishli, Syria. Sunday, March. 3, 2013.

Posting this because unknown to you all i love AK’s with Folding stocks <3 If i ever went to war all I’d need is an AK w/a folding stock (or just a plain old wood Ak-47) & a G18 and I’ll be good to go! Plus the girls are cute ;)

The dire situation facing the Syrian people.

I like to think of myself as an optimistic person. I am definitely realistic, but I choose optimism over pessimism. This is a conscious choice, one that sometimes leaned more towards pessimism, but has lately been optimistic.

I often find myself shaking my head at the hate and fear spread across the world. That is not to say that there isn’t any hate or fear out there, but the specific stories and people we shine a light on are often not the right ones. We are spreading the wrong fear and the wrong hate. 

Citizens of several countries have expressed hate towards Syrian refugees entering ‘their country’. They are afraid that it will bring terrorism and terrorists into their country. They are afraid they will have to pay for them, that they will lose the opportunity of getting a job, a house, or help from the government because it is going to these refugees. Should we keep our eyes open and make sure that people don’t take advantage of us? Absolutely. Should we be aware of why these people are refugees, why they can’t stay in their own country, what the difference is between voluntarily leaving a place and having no other choice? Absolutely.

Let’s back up a few years to put some perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis:

  • The war in Syria started 5 years ago (as of March 2016) and has resulted in the death of more than a quarter million people.
  • It started because 15 children were arrested and reportedly tortured for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. Syrian citizens took to the street to protest the way these children were treated. This occurred in the city of Deraa.
  • These protests started peacefully and were a call for the release of the children, democracy, and greater freedom for the people of Syria.
  • The government’s respond was not peaceful - the Syrian army, under command of al-Assad, opened fire on the protesters which resulted in the death of 4 people. The following day the Syrian army shot at a group of mourners at one of the victim’s funeral which resulted in the death of 1 person. From here, the situation escalated. News of protesters being killed and the story of the 15 children being arrested and allegedly tortured, traveled the country and caused an uproar throughout Syria. 
  • Protesters began demanding that al-Assad should resign, however al-Assad refused to do so, which caused more protests and more violence.
  • In August 2013, it was reported that Syria used chemical weapons to attack its own people. UN inspectors were able to confirm the use of chemical weapons in September 2013. Syria denies the use of chemical weapons.
  • After much discussion by world leaders about the chemical weapons, it was decided the chemical weapons held by Syria should be destroyed. The group of people responsible for destroying the weapons, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in late 2013. However, there is some doubt about the completeness of this procedure due to reports from the OPCW stating that traces were found of sarin and VX nerve agent at a Military Research Site in Syria that had not been declared previously by the al-Assad regime.
  • The war in Syria gets worse because of infighting amongst the rebels trying to overthrow the al-Assad regime. This is where ISIS (also known as ISIL or IS) gets involved. ISIS is an al-Qaida breakaway group of terrorists. Some rebels start fighting ISIS and the al-Assad regime, some fight ISIS, and some fight the al-Assad regime, thus creating the infighting between the rebels. ISIS gains control of parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and it declares a self-styled Islamic caliphate. I will not go into further detail on ISIS, but it is the reason why several countries have started bombing Syria, in order to stop ISIS from gaining further control. For more information on ISIS, please check these helpful overviews from The New York Times.
  • Millions of Syrians have fled the country, but 18 million people still remain in the war-torn country.

The information above is a nutshell of the whole story. For more information and details, please check my sources over at the BBC and The New York Times.

The Syrian refugee crisis is an ongoing one, thus the number of refugees is growing every day. With so many different countries and rebel forces involved, it is hard to keep track of. However, the following graphs will give you insight on how many refugees have come to which countries, how many have applied for asylum, and how many have died trying to make the dangerous journey to freedom.



Source (there are more graphs here)

Several EU countries have stated that they can take up to a certain number of refugees. Some countries have stated that their borders are closed and aren’t accepting any refugees. The process of accepting refugees and granting them asylum is not easy. Watch as Samantha Bee breaks down how refugees make the cut to enter countries in her show ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’. Start at 4:26 to catch the helpful animation!

This should go to show you that it is highly unlikely for members of ISIS or any other terrorist group to successfully ‘pose as a refugee’ and thus end up in the country of their choosing to commit terrorist attacks. The system is, as always, not just there to help the refugees but also to ensure public safety. 

I hope with these facts I have shed a light on the dire situation facing the Syrian people. It is not an easy subject to understand or to lay out in just a few sentences, but it is worth knowing about. Don’t forget who the real victims are. 

SYRIA. Aleppo governorate. Aleppo. 2013. ‘Her name is Fadwa. She’s 20 years old, a widow with three children. Every time I asked the women of the Free Syrian Army why they decided to fight, the answer was: “My husband died on the front lines, I will die on the front lines, may God help us.” I tried to make her feel at ease and make sure she didn’t see me as a threat. The pose was her choice. I had to take the pictures fast. Black and white is a safe bet when you are not in control of the light. I was focusing on their eyes and their clothes. Is it a cliché to say I can’t stop looking at the baby?’

Photograph: Sebastiano Tomado/Rex

Abdul Basset Saroot, the former star goalkeeper of the Syrian national soccer team, transformed over three years from a pacifist antigovernment protest leader into a homegrown guerrilla fighter.

Sundance-winning documentary Return to Homs offers an on-the-ground view of the crisis in Syria. Catch it as part of New Directors / New Films 3/25 & 3/26. 

[Return to Homs. 2013. Syria/Germany. Talal Derki.]

Lent and asceticism become a way of return, but they are not the purpose. Otherwise, they turn to become a movement of selfishness, separating us from the face of Christ, and making us feel “self-righteous.” Lent is the reversing from the self-gratifying desires to the controlled desires directed towards God and the neighbor. Lent is the changing of our love from the self to the outside (God-man). So the subject here is not strengthening our powers but rather doing the work of love. It is a personal change and a freedom from the bonds of slavery.

+ His Eminence Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo, kidnapped and still missing in Syria since 2013

ISIS beheads American journalist James Foley in graphic video posted online

Freelance journalist James Foley was beheaded in Syria by ISIS, and video of the execution was posted online as a warning to President Obama to stop air strikes against the terrorist group.  At the end of the beheading, the video shows a second American journalist who ISIS threatens to execute if Obama doesn’t call off the air strikes.

from CNN:

A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley and threatens the life of another American if President Barack Obama doesn’t end military operations in Iraq.

In the video posted Tuesday on YouTube, Foley is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black. He reads a message, presumably scripted by his captors, that his “real killer” is America.

“I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope for freedom to see my family once again,” Foley can be heard saying in the video.

He is then shown being beheaded.
The National Security Council is aware of the video.
“The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available,” NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

Foley disappeared in November 2012 in northwest Syria, near the border with Turkey. He was reportedly forced into a vehicle by gunmen; he was not heard from again. At the time of his disappearance, he was working for the GlobalPost.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Facebook group set up to support Foley and his family, “Free James Foley,” wrote, “We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”

The video also shows another American journalist. His life is said by the militants in the video to hang in the balance, depending on what Obama does next.

U.S. Official: ISIS ‘credible alternative to al Qaeda’
The journalist is believed to be Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped at the Syria-Turkey border in 2013. Sotloff is a contributor to Time and Foreign Policy magazines.

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Note to President Obama: you don’t negotiate with terrorists.  Giving in to their demands will only further endanger the lives of American citizens who will become valuable as hostages.

LEBANON. Tripoli. November 2013. Children in front of a shattered wall. They sum up how families are living in the middle of the conflict. 

The Bab al-Tabbaneh–Jabal Mohsen conflict is a recurring conflict between Sunni Muslim residents of the Bab-al-Tibbaneh and Alawite Muslim residents of the Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods. Residents of the two neighbourhoods have been rivals since the Lebanese Civil War, and have often engaged in violence. They are divided along sectarian lines, as well as by their opposition or support of the Alawite-led Syrian government. Violence flared up during the Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon.

Photograph: Lorenzo Meloni/Magnum Photos

SYRIA. Rojava (Western Kurdistan). Al-Hasakah governorate. Near Serê Kaniyê/Ral al-Ayn. November 6, 2013. A Kurdish female fighter from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) checks her weapon after capturing it from Islamist rebels (al-Nusra Front).

Photograph: Reuters