The Syrian War Keeps Getting Worse for the People of Aleppo
A year ago, almost to the day, I watched a graffiti artist named Khalifa paint a huge smiley face onto a wall. The wall was pretty much all that remained of the house it had been part of, and every other house on the street was in a similarly bad state. The day before, the street had been hit by a Scud missile: That was Aleppo, Syria, in 2013.
Khalifa had sprayed a slogan next to the smiley face. It read, in Arabic, “Tomorrow this will be beautiful.”
He was wrong.

The Syrian War Keeps Getting Worse for the People of Aleppo

A year ago, almost to the day, I watched a graffiti artist named Khalifa paint a huge smiley face onto a wall. The wall was pretty much all that remained of the house it had been part of, and every other house on the street was in a similarly bad state. The day before, the street had been hit by a Scud missile: That was Aleppo, Syria, in 2013.

Khalifa had sprayed a slogan next to the smiley face. It read, in Arabic, “Tomorrow this will be beautiful.”

He was wrong.

vicenews:

Eric Harroun, the US Army vet who went to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army, has died at 31.

vicenews:

Eric Harroun, the US Army vet who went to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army, has died at 31.

motherboardtv:

Climate Change-Fueled Droughts Are About to Make Syria Even More Hellish

motherboardtv:

Climate Change-Fueled Droughts Are About to Make Syria Even More Hellish

Syrian Children Are Drawing to Heal the Trauma from War 
In an upscale district of Downtown Beirut, two pre-teen boys rapped in Arabic during an exhibit showcasing the artwork of Syrian refugee children. Ramzi, a 12-year-old originally from Daraa, Syria, beatboxed as his friend Ayham, who is also from Daraa, spit rhymes. Guests watched quietly, impressed, as the two boys recalled life before the uprising-turned-civil war wreaked havoc on their country.
This was part of an exhibit, called “Light Against Darkness,” the result of a three month art workshop that focused on helping children overcome the trauma of war through creative expression. Forty-three children produced about 166 works of drawings and clay sculptures, many of which depicted colorful renditions of schools, kids playing together, and families bonding.
Others, however, were not so cheery. Suha Wanous, a young girl originally from Latakia but who arrived to Lebanon from Damascus, the Syrian capital, drew a daughter holding her mother’s hand while a gun is pressed to her head point-blank. In the background of the picture, it’s raining and a helicopter is opening fire on a home while two small children lay on the grass bleeding, presumably dead. The organizers of the exhibit explained how Suha used to pass an army checkpoint daily before going to school back in Syria. She used to greet the soldiers Assalamu Alaykum (meaning “peace be upon you” in Arabic.)
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Syrian Children Are Drawing to Heal the Trauma from War 

In an upscale district of Downtown Beirut, two pre-teen boys rapped in Arabic during an exhibit showcasing the artwork of Syrian refugee children. Ramzi, a 12-year-old originally from Daraa, Syria, beatboxed as his friend Ayham, who is also from Daraa, spit rhymes. Guests watched quietly, impressed, as the two boys recalled life before the uprising-turned-civil war wreaked havoc on their country.

This was part of an exhibit, called “Light Against Darkness,” the result of a three month art workshop that focused on helping children overcome the trauma of war through creative expression. Forty-three children produced about 166 works of drawings and clay sculptures, many of which depicted colorful renditions of schools, kids playing together, and families bonding.

Others, however, were not so cheery. Suha Wanous, a young girl originally from Latakia but who arrived to Lebanon from Damascus, the Syrian capital, drew a daughter holding her mother’s hand while a gun is pressed to her head point-blank. In the background of the picture, it’s raining and a helicopter is opening fire on a home while two small children lay on the grass bleeding, presumably dead. The organizers of the exhibit explained how Suha used to pass an army checkpoint daily before going to school back in Syria. She used to greet the soldiers Assalamu Alaykum (meaning “peace be upon you” in Arabic.)

Continue

Is Facebook Censoring the Syrian Opposition?
Last December, a woman from the Syrian community in Toronto reached out to me for help after a Syrian opposition Facebook page, for which she was an administrator, was expunged from the internet. She told me that Facebook had deleted the page, called Likes for Syria, in mid December, by which time it had garnered more than 80,000 “likes.” Several Syrian Canadians had organized the page shortly after the revolution in Syria began, back in 2011, and used it as a tool for posting news stories about the crisis, spreading messages of hope, and creating awareness in the Western world—something that many feel is desperately needed.
“We feel like our freedom of speech has been totally taken away,” said Faris Alshawaf, another administrator for Likes for Syria. “We have a right to talk about what is happening.” Facebook had removed the page once before but quickly republished it after administrators made an appeal. Just days later, Facebook deleted the page a second time.  
Yet Likes for Syria is hardly alone. In the past six months, Facebook has deleted dozens of opposition pages—including one started by Syrian youth roughly a month before the revolution begun—because they allegedly violate the company’s Community Standardspolicy and Terms of Use agreement. Two weeks ago, the Atlantic reported that Facebook opposition pages were disappearing. While I was doing more research about the issue, Facebook took down another page. This time, it erased the Syrian Coalition page, a move that shocked administrators and caused panic in the Syrian community, as it was seen as one of the most important and safe pages of the revolution. People from the Syrian community reached out to me again and sent me screenshot images of what had been reported to Facebook. It seemed clear that many of the images would have been very hard to take offense to and were not violent in nature.   
Continue

Is Facebook Censoring the Syrian Opposition?

Last December, a woman from the Syrian community in Toronto reached out to me for help after a Syrian opposition Facebook page, for which she was an administrator, was expunged from the internet. She told me that Facebook had deleted the page, called Likes for Syria, in mid December, by which time it had garnered more than 80,000 “likes.” Several Syrian Canadians had organized the page shortly after the revolution in Syria began, back in 2011, and used it as a tool for posting news stories about the crisis, spreading messages of hope, and creating awareness in the Western world—something that many feel is desperately needed.

“We feel like our freedom of speech has been totally taken away,” said Faris Alshawaf, another administrator for Likes for Syria. “We have a right to talk about what is happening.” Facebook had removed the page once before but quickly republished it after administrators made an appeal. Just days later, Facebook deleted the page a second time.  

Yet Likes for Syria is hardly alone. In the past six months, Facebook has deleted dozens of opposition pages—including one started by Syrian youth roughly a month before the revolution begun—because they allegedly violate the company’s Community Standardspolicy and Terms of Use agreement. Two weeks ago, the Atlantic reported that Facebook opposition pages were disappearing. While I was doing more research about the issue, Facebook took down another page. This time, it erased the Syrian Coalition page, a move that shocked administrators and caused panic in the Syrian community, as it was seen as one of the most important and safe pages of the revolution. People from the Syrian community reached out to me again and sent me screenshot images of what had been reported to Facebook. It seemed clear that many of the images would have been very hard to take offense to and were not violent in nature.   

Continue

The Syrian Peace Talks Look Like a Tragic Farce
Peace talks aiming to bring Syria’s bloody civil war to a conclusion finally began yesterday in Switzerland, the land of peace and harmony. The conference officially starts Friday and will see delegates getting down to the seemingly impossible task of trying to thrash out a deal, but yesterday was the initial meeting of the “Geneva II” conference, where the participants got to let off some steam in lengthy speeches.
All things considered, the occasion didn’t get off to the best start, with Syria’s foreign minister using his speech to accuse some of the nations involved of having “Syrian blood on their hands” before calling the rebels “traitors.” The US and the Syrian opposition used the opportunity to state that Bashar al-Assad had no legitimacy—which, shockingly, didn’t go down too well with the Assad camp—while Syria’s information minister argued with the UN secretary-general before shouting, “Assad will not leave! Assad will not leave!” at the assembled pack of reporters. So it doesn’t look like the negotiations—the first time the opposition and the Syrian government have formally sat down together since the conflict began in 2011—will be particularly fruitful.
Continue

The Syrian Peace Talks Look Like a Tragic Farce

Peace talks aiming to bring Syria’s bloody civil war to a conclusion finally began yesterday in Switzerland, the land of peace and harmony. The conference officially starts Friday and will see delegates getting down to the seemingly impossible task of trying to thrash out a deal, but yesterday was the initial meeting of the “Geneva II” conference, where the participants got to let off some steam in lengthy speeches.

All things considered, the occasion didn’t get off to the best start, with Syria’s foreign minister using his speech to accuse some of the nations involved of having “Syrian blood on their hands” before calling the rebels “traitors.” The US and the Syrian opposition used the opportunity to state that Bashar al-Assad had no legitimacy—which, shockingly, didn’t go down too well with the Assad camp—while Syria’s information minister argued with the UN secretary-general before shouting, “Assad will not leave! Assad will not leave!” at the assembled pack of reporters. So it doesn’t look like the negotiations—the first time the opposition and the Syrian government have formally sat down together since the conflict began in 2011—will be particularly fruitful.

Continue

vicenews:

Syria: al Qaeda’s New Home

Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots—the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra—becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.

One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.

vicenews:

Syria: al Qaeda’s New Home - Trailer

Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots—the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra—becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.ISIS’s policy of kidnapping journalists has made it almost impossible to report from within Syria. But one VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, creating this remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.

vicenews:

Syria: al Qaeda’s New Home - Trailer

Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots—the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra—becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.

ISIS’s policy of kidnapping journalists has made it almost impossible to report from within Syria. But one VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, creating this remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.

A young refinery worker suffering from chemical burns
Watch VICE’s new documentary about the horrors of Syria’s illegal oil wells

A young refinery worker suffering from chemical burns

Watch VICE’s new documentary about the horrors of Syria’s illegal oil wells

vicenews:

Watch a new documentary about the hazards and horrors of the makeshift oil industry in rebel-held Syria

vicenews:

Watch a new documentary about the hazards and horrors of the makeshift oil industry in rebel-held Syria

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