Saturday, 27 June 2015


' "We're the gang of girls. [Assad] would kill us, but he can't find us," Waleed says. The "gang of girls" she refers to are her colleagues at Enab Baladi; a little more than half the staff are women. Many of them are now refugees, in Turkey and Lebanon, and the rest are in hiding in Syria—reporting over sporadic Internet connections, giving new and urgent meaning to the phrase working remotely.
 Of the 24 founding staff members, three top editors have been killed in separate attacks. Eight reporters have been detained and tortured, and 12 have fled the country.
 Waleed and her girlfriends joined the crowds of hundreds of thousands forming across Syria, singing the anthem of the revolution, the title of which translates as "Come On, Bashar, Leave." They used Twitter and Facebook to coordinate more rallies, calling for democratic re- forms and expecting that the government—which over the past 40 years had built up one of the world's worst human rights records, crushing dissent, torturing prisoners, detaining and spying on critics, fostering endemic corruption, and creating widespread poverty—would fall or make concessions under pressure from the international community.
  But their calculations were wrong, and backing from the United States was weak. The Assad regime immediately cast the protesters as dangerous Islamists and foreign terrorists. Within weeks of the first demonstrations, government tanks rolled into city centers, opening fire on the people. Journalists and artists were detained or killed. The man rumored to have written "Come On, Bashar, Leave" was found dead in a river, his vocal cords ripped out. Assad controlled the airwaves, which spouted only propaganda.
  One morning in late August, she was having breakfast at her family's apartment in Darayya when the house shook. She rushed to the balcony to see her neighbors pouring into the alley. Minutes later, in almost the same location, there was another explosion. Waleed had grown accustomed to the occasional sound of rockets or mortars landing, as the rebels were hiding close by, on farms in the outskirts of the city. This was different. The shelling intensified, and the next morning the Waleed family fled to a relative's apartment, but as they arrived, a mortar hit the building, sending them all sprawling. The city was under attack. They ran for their cars, driving to the home of a family friend outside of town.
For the next three days, one of the worst massacres of the Syrian war took place inside Darayya. According to reporting from Enab Baladi, which still had staffers there, the regime's soldiers sealed off all roads entering and exiting the city shortly before mortars landed.
Then, according to first-person accounts reported by Enab Baladi, soldiers went door to door, lining up men in mosques and shooting them execution style and burning homes and schools. In one particularly gruesome example, neighbors told Waleed that they'd found an entire family dead in their basement, where they had presumably been hiding. During the rampage, Waleed stayed out in the country, along with 100 others sleeping side by side in a crowded house. With no electricity or Internet access, she had no idea of the whereabouts of her team. This was the only time Enab Baladi missed an edition.'

This is the massacre Robert Fisk lied about in the Independent, after riding into town with the very troops who had carried it out.*

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