Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 04:21:43 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

After filming IS horrors, Raqa activists become war reporters

photo by AP photo

Citizen journalists have used cell phones and social media to document protests and abuses since Syria\'s uprising began in 2011, as well as jihadist atrocities in Raqa since 2014.

By
13th-Sep-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

AFP, Beirut :
They honed their media skills secretly filming Islamic State group beheadings in Raqa. Now, these Syrian activists have become impromptu war reporters, covering the US-backed assault on their city from the ground.
"If the crack is sharp and the column of smoke goes straight up, it's an air strike," Syrian activist Tim Ramadan tells AFP from Raqa, using a pseudonym and communicating through a Facebook profile that disguises his identity.
Every night, Ramadan discreetly turns on his internet satellite service, uploads his daily records from the battle-torn city to Europe-based colleagues at the "Sound and Picture" collective, then immediately deletes the messages. Media networks including Sound and Picture are providing a rare window into life in Raqa, ravaged by fighting since the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces broke into the city on June 6.
They write stories on what it's like for civilians to scavenge for food and water, publish footage of air strikes, and commemorate civilians killed in fighting.
"This is the only thing I can do right now-keep track of how many air strikes, shells, dead, wounded. Who was killed by a sniper, an air strike, or a mine. How many houses were destroyed," Ramadan says.
Activists like him once solely focused on documenting the gruesome atrocities of IS's three-year-reign over the city.
But the assault on Raqa changed all that.
"We used to be afraid of being arrested (by IS) if we went out in the street. Now we're afraid of going outside in case an artillery shell hits us. And if we don't go out, we're scared an air strike could flatten the whole house on top of us," says Ramadan.
US-led coalition warplanes and SDF shelling have pounded Raqa, where up to 25,000 civilians still live after tens of thousands escaped. The SDF has captured around 65 percent of Raqa, recently overrunning the strategic Old City.
"When the coalition and the SDF entered the scene, we had to document more. Daesh wasn't the only side killing civilians anymore," Ramadan says, using the Arabic acronym for IS. Since Syria's uprising began in 2011, citizen journalists have used cell phones and social media to document protests and violations by armed forces.
They adapted the same tools to document IS atrocities after it captured Raqa in 2014, with groups like Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently publishing footage of beheadings and jihadist patrols.
When coalition air strikes on Raqa began in 2014, the city's activists started to document those too.
But the activists say the real change in their work came when the SDF entered the city, prompting clashes that brought rampant power cuts and made moving around much more difficult.
"IS has actually lifted some of its restrictions on people because it's busy with clashes," says 21-year-old Mazen Hassoun, who manages news outlet Raqqa Post from Germany.
"But communicating with our team is harder now than before, especially after the internet cafes were shut and fighting reached the city itself," he says.
Like other activists, Raqqa Post's team stockpiled food, water, and medicine and turned basements into makeshift bomb shelters in anticipation of a long fight, says Hassoun.
Mohammad al-Khaled, who heads the Raqqa24 media collective from northern Syria, warned his correspondents that he had seen how brutally IS responded to other US-backed assaults.
"I told them Daesh would be more evil towards civilians, that they would use them and their families as human shields if they stayed," Khaled tells AFP, adding that some chose to flee.
In recent months, Khaled has begun using new messaging programmes and code words to protect his correspondents.
Two members of the network's six-person team have been wounded in clashes, but correspondent Khalil still refuses to leave.
"My specialisation with the network is documenting casualties because of my background in medicine. I record the number and cause of deaths," Khalil says, using a pseudonym and communicating via an online messaging app.
"If I was to leave at a time like this, it would be a betrayal of my countrymen, whom I've decided to stay with in this situation."
Aghiad al-Kheder, who coordinates with Ramadan and other Sound and Picture correspondents from Germany, spent a year living under IS in Raqa before escaping in 2015.

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Football »

Members of Dhaka Abahani Limited during their practice session at the Abahani Ground on Tuesday.


Sports »

Senior Operative Director (Head of Games & Sports Department) of Walton Group FM Iqbal Bin Anwar Dawn (second from left) speaking at a press conference at the Club House in Army Golf Club on Tuesday.


Entertainment »

Sonam to quit Bollywood!


Sonam Kapoor's wedding has been one of the most talked about topics of discussion in the industry. A lot of speculations are being made about Sonam-Anand's wedding. Recent reports suggested that Sonam will be shifting to London post her wedding with Anand.These speculations even gave rise to rumours that Sonam ...

Editorial »

Police must not feel free to abuse police power against police discipline


A MOTORCYCLE was stolen from in front of a high police official's residence last week. Motorbikes are the easiest target for thieves. They either stealthily take away the bikes or stop the riders at night and snatch away their bikes. Sometimes, the bikers are knifed or beaten up. Last year, ...

International »

Dinner over, Trump, Macron get down to business


AFP :After a friendly dinner at a US landmark, US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were to get down to business Tuesday on divisive issues like the Iran nuclear accord and international trade.They were to meet face to face for half an hour, and then again ...

Editorial »

Justice delayed justice denied


FIVE years have elapsed after the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar which is known as deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest structural failure in the modern human history. At least 1136 garment workers were killed on the spot and 1169 received severe injuries when the multi-storied ...

Cricket »

Shakib, Tamim to play for ICC World XI against West Indies


Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and top order batsman Tamim Iqbal have been included in the ICC World XI to play West Indies team in a one-off T20I match at Lord's on May 31.The match is being organised to raise fund for the reconstruction of stadiums that were damaged in ...

Sports »

(Left to right)) Uttam Mundy, CEO, PGTI; Arshi Haider, Chairman of bti; Siddikur Rahman, Professional Golfer; Asif Ibrahim, President, BPGA; Johnson Poh, Professional Golfer, Honey Baisoya, Professional Golfer unveiling the bti Open 2018 Trophy on Monday.


Entertainment »

Shilpa Shetty Kundra is Inspirational Celebrity of the Year


A successful wellness guru Shilpa Shetty Kundra is one of cinema’s most loved names. Her rise has nothing short of meteoric. This actress turned entrepreneur has to her credit successful yoga DVDs, a health and fitness channel is also a top-selling selling author of two books based on her mantra ...

Entertainment »

Richa Chadha’s new song look inspired by Parveen Babi’s Jawani Janeman


Actress Richa Chadha is considered to be the front-runner in Bollywood for experimenting with her looks and character in the films she does. Right from playing an old woman Nagma Khatoon in her first commercial success hit, Gangs of Wasseypur series to her soon to release film Daasdev, Richa has ...

City »

President Abdul Hamid receiving an annual audit report from a delegation led by Auditor and Comptroller General Masud Ahmed at Bangabhaban on Monday.


International »

Child rape case heightens India`s Hindu-Muslim divide


AFP, Jammu :The internet is being cut for hours on end in Jammu as authorities try to halt protests that have grown in the Kashmir winter capital since the rape-murder of an eight year old girl opened a new front in India's Hindu-Muslim divide.With near daily protests held across the ...

Editorial »

Govt must answer what happened to the force disappearances


MEMBERS of around 80 families joined a programme under the banner of "Mayer Daak", a platform of disappearance victims' family members, from across the country on April 21st, as per report of a local daily. Speaking at the event, supported by rights activists, family members slammed the state for denying ...

Entertainment »

Alia Bhatt spies on movie goers


Raazi trailer was launched recently. Last week, in partnership with FB & PVR, Alia spied on theatre audiences watching the trailer on the theatre screen and appeared on a two-way facebook LIVE in front of them and interacted with the audience as they could both see each other. This was ...

Football »

Neymar to be at peak of powers at World Cup: Ronaldinho


Xinhua, Rio De Janeiro :Brazil legend Ronaldinho has backed compatriot Neymar to make a full recovery from foot surgery in time for the World Cup in Russia.Neymar has been sidelined since suffering a cracked fifth metatarsal in his right foot while playing for Paris Saint-Germain in late February.He underwent surgery ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news