Friday, 12 February 2016

Syrian Rebels Vow to Wage a National Liberation Guerrilla War

FILE - In this December 17, 2012 file photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover during fighting with the Syrian Army in Azaz, Syria.

 'With the partial cease-fire deal announced by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 17 foreign powers, including Russia, in Munich not including a clear commitment from the Kremlin to end blistering Russian airstrikes immediately — a key demand of the Syrian opposition — the rebels dismiss the idea that Munich represents a breakthrough in the search for a political solution to end the brutal five-year-long civil war that has left upwards of 250,000 dead.

 They view it instead as another way-station on a road that will lead to an inevitable Western-backed negotiated political deal that they won’t be able to accept.

 “Fighters on the front-lines have some very harsh things to say about the West,” says Mohammed Adeeb, a senior figure in the 10,000-strong Shamiya Front, an alliance of secular and nationalist armed factions.

 Speaking in Munich after lengthy talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a U.N. task force would “work to develop the modalities for a long term and durable cessation of violence”. He acknowledged, though, that the deal was only so good as the paper it is written on and much further works is needed.

 But some rebels and opposition politicians are drawing comparisons with another piece of paper signed in Munich in 1938.

 Pro-opposition civil society activists also remain highly doubtful about the deal and what it may hold. “I will welcome the delivery of aid to all areas that need it,” says Bassam al-Kuwaiti, a well-known figure in opposition circles.

 “As to the cease-fire, a political transition should start at the same time, or we will be allowing the Assad forces to capture lands under the banner of fighting the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra, and therefore to obtain a powerful position that enables it to halt any political change,” he says.

 Some rebel commanders say they will have no choice but to back up al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, if a post-Munich regime offensive unfolds in Idlib — not just out of comradeship for other anti-Assad fighters but because a collapse by their forces there would weaken moderate and nationalist militias in Aleppo, too.

 Gen. Salem Idris, the former chief of staff of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, says of al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham: “We don’t coordinate militarily on the battlefield with them but we do have a saying that any rifle trained on Assad deserves our support.” Rebel commanders say that regardless of what they decide to do in the event Idlib is targeted their own militiamen will want to fight there, weakening the coherence of moderate factions, if they resist the demands of their ranks.

 Whatever the near future holds for the Syrian revolution against Assad, Nader Othman of the Syrian Interim Government insists the regime won’t win. “They might take more land and occupy it. There will be a resistance, it will revert to a guerrilla war, and Syrians can make things even harder for the Russians than they experienced in Afghanistan.”

 He adds: “Our mistake was not to see our revolution as a national liberation struggle. This is no longer a civil war — we are occupied by many foreign forces and we should make that clear. This is now a war to eject foreign invaders.” '

Thursday, 11 February 2016

How the United Nations' OCHA Helped Assad and Hurt Syrians in Need

Image result for aiding disaster annie sparrow

 "OCHA’s defense that any aid delivered from Damascus is better than none has not been weighed against the human and financial cost of bolstering a regime that is deliberately increasing the hardship of people in opposition-held areas. Humanitarian aid in such circumstances can sustain the violence that gives rise to the need for aid in the first place. In providing billions of dollars of assistance, the disposition of which is largely dictated by the Syrian government, the UN has freed Syrian government resources to be used for Syrian politicians, troops, security forces, and allies. Someone has to take a stand. At the risk of alienating a key source of financing, the Syrians themselves have now done so. It’s time for OCHA to do its part by revisiting its underlying principles and acting accordingly—to check out of the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, to leave the Syrian capital, and to stop supporting the atrocities of the Syrian government."

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Under Russian fire, Syrian rebels blame West for abandoning their fight

 'What is left of the Syrian “moderate” opposition is bitter as hell. As far as they are concerned, the US and its allies have thrown them under the bus, unwilling to give them the firepower or protection necessary to resist a resurgent Russian-backed regime now pushing into Aleppo, a critical opposition redoubt. 
 “For the last year we haven’t received anything. The US is preventing everyone from supplying the opposition with weapons out of fear they will fall in the hands of Islamic State,” says Bassam Hajji, a political officer in a CIA-backed rebel group in Aleppo.
 Chris Kozak, a Syria analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, says it will be difficult for the opposition to turn the tables in and around Aleppo barring a quick escalation from regional allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials have said they could send ground troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State – a move that could also allow it to prop up its allies. But few see this happening anytime soon since Saudi forces are already overstretched in Yemen.
 Turkey is “likely to consider some high risk options to this renewed offensive, including providing MANPADS and anti-aircraft systems to try and counteract the advantage Russian aircraft has given,” says Mr. Kozak. 
 “Without the direct support of the US and NATO, I think (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan will be hesitant to take such a dramatic intervention step as a direct military intervention in Syria,” says Kozak.  
 One consequence is that beleaguered rebel groups are likely to deepen their collaboration with more Islamist-oriented factions seen as more effective fighting forces. These include Al-Qaeda’s affiliate Nusra Front, which has been a tactical partner of US-backed rebels both in the north and the south. The overlap between groups has long been contentious, as the US fears indirectly arming rebels that aren’t vetted.
 Jihadists are said to have a small presence in Aleppo City and have joined other rebel formations from the northwestern province of Idlib to reinforce the city’s defenses. Rebels in northern Aleppo Province are under massive pressure from regime forces in the south, Kurdish-led factions in the west, and the Islamic State in the east. ​
 While Hajji describes the factions ​in northern Aleppo as strictly Free Syrian Army – what the West considers moderate rebels – he adds “everyone has had to work with Al-Nusra” at some point or another. Rebel commanders argue that such alliances were born not out of ideological affinity but necessity. They blame the international community for allowing the Syrian regime to kill civilians with impunity over the past five years. 
 Yasser Abdul-Rahim, a rebel commander in Aleppo Province, complained that no support is being delivered to the opposition at this time of crisis. For the West, he had one question: “Have you sold out the Syrian revolution?” '

Assad checkpoints; pay more, pass quicker

Image result for Assad checkpoints; pay more, pass quicker

 "Bus and taxi drivers familiar with the routes and practices of given checkpoints often gather money from passengers ahead of time in order to expedite the process. The more money that is paid, the quicker they are allowed to pass. Drivers will also plan the timing of their trips to coincide with the shifts of guards whose prices are lower than those who work at other times of day.

 Guards have also been reported to have sexually harassed young women, sometimes even threatening to rape them in the presence of their own family members. They do this not only for the money, but also for the power rush they get from being able to intimidate and control. And unlike other international actors in the Syrian conflict, their threats are often followed through with heinous actions. As such they are following in the footsteps of their leader and mentor Assad.

 It can be even worse for young men, even if they are currently university students whose military service has been temporarily deferred. Guards will often take their paperwork and say they are going to check them against the lists that they have. They then come back and say that the young man’s name is indeed on the regime’s wanted list even if it is not. 

 The specters of detainment and torture are ever present in the minds of Syrians and the feelings of relief after successfully getting past such an ordeal have been compared to being born again. Those who do not make it through often end up dead or wishing that they were. Many Syrian families have family members who disappeared at a checkpoint on their way to somewhere inside Syria.

 The harassment is not always confined to young men either. Teenagers all the way up to men in their early 40s are considered to be suitable for military service. But in reality, checkpoint guards are far more interested in the profits they gain through extortion than they are in the regime’s ability to keep replenishing its depleting number of forces.

 Even Syrians living in regime controlled areas who originally supported Assad are being treated the same way causing many of them to turn against him or flee the country as well.

 Life continues to become increasingly difficult in Syria, psychologically as well as physically, and it is hard to imagine how the evil and corrupt practices that have become so commonplace will ever end as long as an illegitimate and corrupt system is allowed to remain in place."

BBC Radio: the Depopulation of Syria

Robin Yassin Kassab web

 Robin Yassin-Kassab:
 "What Russia and Iran are doing at the moment, with the complicity of the West, is they are trying to destroy entirely the democratic nationalist opposition. They're not just hitting Islamists, they're hitting Free Syrian Army militias too. They're hitting civilian structures, they're bombing schools and hospitals and depopulating these areas. I think the aim is to destroy the democratic nationalist opposition, so the only two sides left are Assad and the insane jihadists. They then hope the world will come together in agreement, in open and direct agreement, that they should all co-operate in winning the country back for Assad. However, the demographic realities mean that even if it takes decades, it's not going to happen. As long as there are Syrians, there will be a great many people who want to fight against the régime, and what's perceived as a foreign invasion.

 There is no serious conversation about peace, and by continuing in this theatre that there is, Kerry is complicit in what is going on. One reason the rebels, the opposition militias have collapsed recently, is because the Americans have told the Saudis and others to stop delivering weapons. Not one anti-aircraft weapon, which is what the civilians need to defend themselves from this scorched earth and depopulation, not one of them has come through. So the Americans, who present themselves as Friends of Syria, certainly aren't friends with the Syrian Revolution. They've just done a deal with the Iranians, at the same moment the Iranians are sending Shia jihadist militants to Syria and Iraq, which is making the Sunni Islamist backlash so much worse. When the Russians wanted to bring their own opposition team, so-called opposition team, to Vienna, the Americans said that's OK. When the genuine Syrian opposition team said they wanted United Nations resolutions, that the Americans and Russians had already agreed on, implemented; for example, a ceasefire, and end to the aerial bombardment in civilian areas, John Kerry told the opposition that this was a precondition they shouldn't be talking about at this stage. So whatever the rhetoric coming out of the Americans, their actions suggest they have handed this over to Russia and Iran. So in the name of disengagement, the Americans, back in 2013 when sarin gas was used, Obama's red line over chemical weapons disappeared, they in effect handed Syria over to Russia. It hasn't brought about stabilisation, it's brought about an absolute disaster. It has dragged the West back in. This year, the pressure of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean, it will be more than last year, and I wish the Europeans would stop waiting for the Americans, for American leadership on this, because it clearly isn't coming.

 The Americans and the Qataris and the Saudis and the Turks have sent weapons in, in an inconsistent and disorganised way, each one trying to back their own people. It's not only the fault of these powers, it's also the fault of the Syrian opposition, of the fractiousness of Syrian society which hasn't had the experience of democracy for four decades, but if in 2012 we'd seen a serious international effort to provide weapons through a central command, the Free Syrian Army, in much greater quantities than were given, and those had been allowed to defend themselves against President Assad, I think now we'd be looking at a very different situation."

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

'Total chaos and crisis in Aleppo'

Image result for 'Total chaos and crisis in Aleppo'

Rami Jarrah:
 "What's very apparent is the airstrikes, there's an escalation of attacks on the centre of the city, and this is happening many in the marketplaces, residential populated areas of the city. The strategy of this seems very obvious, that they want to push people out of Aleppo, before a total siege is performed on the city. There is one retreat route, and this is to Idlib. What we're seeing on the outskirts, and this is towards northern areas of Aleppo, is escalated attacks, by the Russians in terms of airstrikes, and ground troops, that are trying to totally siege Aleppo. This siege is not a siege that is just performed by the Syrian régime and the Russians over the rebel groups; it would not be possible without ISIS, which has also gained some areas.

 Resources are totally cut off. Fuel, we're talking mainly about diesel that used to come from ISIS territory towards Aleppo, that's been cut off. Vegetables, meat, poultry; this is all something that has become much more expensive right now. It's still cold in Syria, so the fuel that's used to heat the homes, that's been cut off. People are stocking up, but in the coming days and weeks, this is going to become more a humanitarian crisis. There is total chaos and havoc in Aleppo right now. This is a situation we haven't seen in Aleppo since the beginning of the uprising.

 There is some censorship, there is some misinformation. There isn't any Western media reporting from inside the country. What we are seeing is more a narrative that is coming from the Russians and Syrians, it's propaganda media. We're not seeing any narrative on what's actually happening to the civilians there. So what I intend to do is actually go back to Aleppo, but the problem we're having right now is Turkish authorities on the border are not making that possible. The situation right now is there isn't really much to stand for any more in Aleppo. There was hope before, that maybe trying to convey what was going on in this city would influence the international community, and the pan-Arabic community, that something has to be done. This is something that is totally being avoided. Today there was a UN human rights report that was released, and this human rights report was blaming all sides, saying that there were rebel groups, the opposition, the government, all committing crimes, and it made it seem as if these were equal, and this is really disappointing, because there are numbers, there are statistics, that have been proven. Over 180,000 people have been killed, this is documented evidence, of people that have been killed, civilians, by government attacks. Whereas we look at a group like ISIS, and ISIS is definitely a terrorist organisation, are only responsible for around 2,000 deaths, that's 1% of what the government is responsible for, the Syrian régime.

 One thing I'm seeing in Syria today. When walking in the street, and you look at the civilians, you look at people who are walking, you don't see parents holding their children's hands. And I was asking myself the question, why don't I see that? I see this in Turkey, I see this in Egypt, I see this in  other countries, in Europe, when I walk around. I see people, you know, they hold their children's hands. Why in Syria
 do I not I see that? And it's because, psychologically, these people know that at any moment they could lose their loved ones, and psychologically, they are automatically distancing themselves from their children, from their loved ones, because they know that at any moment they could lose their children. And this is a situation I see in Syria where emotion has been totally destroyed. These people are coping only because they've accepted the idea that there could be an end to their lives, to their loved ones' lives. That's something very disturbing now I've seen in Syria recently."


'There is no hope': Residents in Aleppo say world has abandoned them

Image result for 'There is no hope': Residents in Aleppo say world has abandoned them

 'Residents of rebel-held areas of Aleppo say that floundering western efforts to broker a peace deal in Syria are irrelevant to people facing a daily onslaught of Russian air strikes and preparing to defend themselves from advancing pro-government forces.

 Umm Layla, a street vendor, also said she believed that a peace deal was impossible. “This is the third conference. What have the previous conferences done for us? What have they done except bomb us with planes. The planes are killing us.”

 “I believe there is no hope, none at all,” said Abu Umar, another resident.

 “The killing of the Syrian people over the last five years is unprecedented in that the world is standing by watching it happen,” said a local doctor, who did not want to give his name.

 “People have been dying in such a public way,” said a German rebel fighter who did not want to be identified. “I came here to help when no one else did. Yet if I wanted to return home for any reason then I will be arrested and put into prison. It’s unreal."

 “The reason for the severe bombardment is that the people here belong to the revolutionaries. They want freedom and they want an end to the regime,” said Abu Jafar, an elderly man who spoke to MEE in the town of Harytan on the outskirts of Aleppo, a few kilometres south of the Shia-majority villages of Nubl and Zahra, where government forces last week broke a years-long siege by rebels.
 As Abu Jafar spoke, two rockets slammed into a nearby building, forcing him to duck for cover, although neither rocket exploded. He said residents had been living with the constant threat of air strikes for years, but had nowhere to go.
 “Go where? A refugee camp? They are bombing those too. It’s better if my family and I are killed in our own home.” '

Monday, 8 February 2016

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Deaths in Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic

Image result for Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Deaths in Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic Selected Government detention centres where deaths in custody have been documented

 "In the Syrian Arab Republic, massive and systematised violence – including the killing of detainees in official and makeshift detention centres – has taken place out of sight, far from the battlefield. Detainees held by the Government were beaten to death, or died as a result of injuries sustained due to torture. Others perished as a consequence of inhuman living conditions. The Government has committed the crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts. Based on the same conduct, war crimes have also been committed. Some anti-Government armed groups established makeshift places of detention where captured Government soldiers were ill treated, and executed.

 Those who were kept in the custody of security and armed forces were almost always denied any means of contacting their families. Some families were first informed about the death or whereabouts of their relatives from released fellow prisoners. In its thematic report “Without a trace: enforced disappearances in Syria”, as well as in its periodic reports, the commission has reported that the crime of enforced disappearance was committed by Government forces as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population.

 Former detainees detailed how cellmates were killed as they were beaten to death during interrogations and in their cells, or died as a result of severe injuries sustained due to torture or ill treatment. Others perished as a consequence of inhuman living conditions inflicted on the prison population, including severe over-crowding, lack of food, and unclean drinking water. Prisoners were given inadequate or no medical care, and died in large numbers from preventable conditions such as diarrhoea or other contagious infections spread in the unhygienic and overcrowded cells.

 While the overwhelming majority of the victims who perished while detained in Government-controlled prison facilities were men, the commission has documented cases of women and children as young as seven years old dying in the custody of State forces. One of the earliest documented cases of death in detention is that of a 13-year-old boy, arrested during a protest in Sayda (Dara’a) in late April 2011. His mutilated body was returned to his family in May 2011. Women, boys and girls, as well as the elderly, have been subjected to torture and brutal prison conditions and have suffered physical and mental trauma. They too have been the victims of, as well as witnesses to, deaths in custody.

 Interrogators and guards employed gruesome methods of torture to kill detainees. In 2014, a detainee held in a centre under the control of the 4th Division of the Syrian army had his genitals mutilated during torture. Bleeding severely and left without treatment, he died three days later. A detainee of a Military Security branch in Homs witnessed an elderly man being severely beaten, and then hung by his wrists from the ceiling. The guards burned his eyes with a cigarette, and pierced his body with a heated, sharp metal object. After hanging in the same position for three hours, the man died.

 Prison conditions were similar across detention facilities. They included severely overcrowded cells where prisoners were often forced to stand and sleep in shifts, stripped to their underwear. Lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, lice infestations and other unhygienic conditions caused the spread of disease and infections. Many prisoners were forced to use their toilet as a source of drinking water.

 Detainees were frequently either ignored or punished with torture when requesting medical assistance. Some prisoners received limited and mostly inadequate medicine, while most received no treatment at all. Some severely ill prisoners were transferred to military hospitals in the Damascus area, including Mezzeh military hospital 601 and Tishreen military hospital located near Barzah Al-Balad neighbourhood. Prisoners were tortured by medical staff at the hospital. Others received limited medical care before they were sent back to the same life-threatening prison conditions. Several prisoners died in the hospital, with prisoner-patients recounting how they were asked to assist in wrapping dead bodies in plastic.

 Many detainees were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence,7 and exposed to humiliation and degrading treatment. Prisoners were subjected to threats of sexual violence against female relatives.

 Denied contact with their families and held in inhuman and degrading conditions in overcrowded cells or prolonged solitary confinement and continuously subjected to torture, prisoners often suffered severe psychological disturbances and depression. Numerous accounts describe how some detainees started hallucinating or displaying other signs of psychological disorders, stopped eating and drinking, and eventually passed away in their cell for unidentified reasons.

 In all cases where the body was returned to the family, it bore marks of extensive torture. Some bodies were returned from hospital morgues to their family only after the family agreed to sign a statement confirming that the deceased had been killed by “terrorists.”

 The Military Security Damascus Branch 227 is located in Mezzeh neighbourhood and is estimated to hold several thousand detainees at all times. Detainees who survived to give accounts of their detention in the branch witnessed the death of fellow inmates as a result of torture, disease, and appalling prison conditions, including chronic lack of food. Former prisoners of Branch 235, located north of Al-Qazzaz neighbourhood in south-eastern Damascus, detail a large number of detainees dying. At least 30 persons were observed dying under torture in this branch between 2011 and mid-2012.

 The Investigations branch of the Air Force Intelligence is located in Mezzeh military airport, south west of central Damascus. Survivors of this branch recounted daily torture sessions. Detainees were brought back to their cells by the guards with open wounds, swollen limbs, haemorrhaging and left without medical care. When they died, the bodies would be removed from the overcrowded cells by prison staff within a few hours.

 Many of those interviewed also recounted having witnessed the death of inmates of the Air Force Intelligence branch located in Harasta (Damascus and southern region branch). Interrogators and prison guards routinely tortured detainees.

 Main detention facilities controlled by the General Intelligence Directorate include Interior Security branch 251 and Investigations branch 285 located in Kafr Soussa, west of central Damascus. Former detainees described inhuman conditions of detention resulting in frequent custodial deaths. Officers were observed giving orders to subordinates on methods of torture to be used on detainees. Corpses were transported by other prisoners through the corridors, sometimes to be kept in the toilets, before being removed from the branch.

 Since mid-2012, the Military Police has been in charge of transferring and holding prisoners between branches and courts. Detention facilities such as Sednaya prison hold thousands of inmates who are transferred there, often following a summary trial, sometimes resulting in the issuance of a death penalty and followed by execution. There were dozens of accounts of deaths occurring in Sednaya prison, with prisoners being beaten to death by guards, or dying from preventable health conditions. Following a practice similar to that described in other facilities, inmates witnessed guards removing bodies from the cells.

 The commission further recommends that United Nations Security Council: (a) Under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter: i. Demand that the Syrian Arab Republic and non-State armed groups immediately halt all detention practices resulting in custodial deaths and torture; ii. Ensure the enforcement of accountability by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court or other judicial mechanisms; iii. Adopt targeted sanctions against persons, agencies and groups credibly suspected of being responsible for or complicit in conduct leading to custodial deaths, torture and enforced disappearances."

Kerry 'blames opposition' for continued Syria bombing

 'Two Syrian aid workers said they approached Kerry at a donor conference drinks reception and told him that he had not done enough to protect Syrian civilians. He then said they should blame the opposition.

 "He said that basically, it was the opposition that didn’t want to negotiate and didn’t want a ceasefire, and they walked away,” the second of the aid workers told MEE in a separate conversation and also on the basis of anonymity.
 “‘What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?’” the aid worker said Kerry told her.
 Both aid workers said Kerry told them that he anticipated three months of bombing during which time “the opposition will be decimated”.
 The second aid worker said the most that Kerry seemed prepared to offer were aid drops for besieged Syrian towns which he said he had discussed with Russia.
 "He said they were close and they were talking to the Russians about it," she said.'

In Aleppo, underground schools face bombardments and burnout

 'At the unofficial schools run by Syrian activist group Kesh Malek in opposition-held districts of Aleppo, the children don't go outside to play during breaks in case a barrel bomb should drop from the sky. Kesh Malek has tried to locate its schools in basements surrounded by high buildings - that present clear targets - to provide some protection against aerial bombardments.

 "Sometimes you feel ashamed of yourself, you are choosing places where others are going to be bombed and you are surrounded by protection, their houses are protection," said Shehwaro.

 A former dentist who left the profession in 2010 to study political science, she later became an early participant in protests against President Bashar al-Assad that evolved into the civil war that has killed at least 250,000 people across Syria and driven 11 million from their homes. A Christian, Shehwaro serves Aleppo's Sunni Muslim community.

 The name Kesh Malek means checkmate, or defeat of the king in chess, and refers to the group's ideal of creating a democratic republic in Syria rather than what it sees as Assad's dictatorship.

 The group started setting up schools in Aleppo in 2011, at first using normal school premises, but that changed after a government bombardment in April 2014 on the Ein Jalout school in the city. Shehwaro said 23 children had died in that attack.

 "The worst case scenario is he (Assad) is going to target schools. Right now none of our schools have a yard. We don't have sports or this kind of activity," she said. "We replace that with drawing and puppet shows and indoor activities."

 Shehwaro said the group was political, but the children were not exposed to political slogans or campaigns.

 "We don't want them to know about the revolution, but we want them to know they have rights," she said.

 Gender is a major focus for Shehwaro, who describes herself as a feminist. Activities have included encouraging girls to formulate dreams for the future such as becoming a president or a carpenter, and one of the services on offer is home schooling for girls who married early.

 Shehwaro said one of the difficulties was that 80 percent of the teachers were inexperienced, and most of them were women who had little access to relevant training as most programs available in Syria targeting women focused on areas like sewing or cooking.

 "Let us break this view of Middle Eastern women ... We should be enabling them in every sector they are trying to work in, not only what we assume is a sector they should work in."

 "One of the teachers said to me, 'why are we teaching children who are going to die next week?' To me it's harsh, but it has its own logic. They look at the children and imagine that they are going to be the next victims." '

Sunday, 7 February 2016

I Work On The Syrian Border, And I've Stopped Crying

Sabreen Shalabi

'The day begins with a call from a family member.
 "She is very sick and the siege has left no medicine in the town."
 Later on, you receive a message from your sister, who still remains in an area under siege by the regime.
 "Just pray for us."
 The day continues with a trip to a Syrian camp, where they literally have nothing. A women begins to bleed profusely, and trapped within the borders of the camp she cannot leave.
 You watch as the four year old, walks across with no shoes to help his mother carry the blanket, and just think to yourself "these children are no longer children."
 In an area with no communication, a mother gives you a small piece of paper with a phone number on it.
 "Please let my family know I'm alive."
 You receive a phone call from your friend.
 They're crying, they just lost someone.
 You listen to them trying to calm them down.
 The call ends.
 You look to the clock it's 12 a.m.
 You open Facebook to read the news, only to hear of another 100 dying under airstrikes.
 You scroll down, pictures of people starving from areas under siege.
 You decide to close the page, enough news for the day.
 You close your eyes and realize.
 You didn't let a single tear drop.'