Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Sunday, February 25, 2018 03:50:05 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

International »

New strikes hit Syria enclave after UN delays truce vote


AFP, Beirut  :Air strikes and rocket fire hit the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta for a seventh straight day on Saturday after the United Nations again delayed a vote on a ceasefire.The Damascus government launched a devastating bombardment of the enclave just outside the capital last Sunday that has ...

Editorial »

More vigilance at Rohingya camps against human traffickers


Aid workers have identified 32 victims of human trafficking so far at Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar and also reported lack of access to basic services and self-reliance opportunities - especially for women and girls increasing the risk of trafficking. If such risks were assessed from the very beginning when ...

Sports »

Medalist in the men's parallel giant slalom (from right) South Korea's Lee Sangho (silver), Switzerland's Nevin Galmarini (gold) and Slovenia's Zan Kosir (bronze) pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Saturday.


Entertainment »

Sunny Leone on her Tamil film debut: I'm beyond excited to start shooting


Former adult film actress Sunny Leone made a swift move into the Hindi film industry in 2012. And now the Indo-Canadian actress is all set to make her debut in a Tamil film. She says south Indian films would help her grow as a person and an actress. Sunny, whose ...

City »

Poet Abdul Hai Shikder along with others holds the copies of a book titled 'Aroni' written by Latiful Khabira at its cover unwrapping ceremony in the city's Suhrawardy Udyan on Saturday.


Editorial »

Indian Army Chief`s allegation means complicity of government of Bangladesh


REMARKS by Indian Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat on Thursday that a 'planned influx' of people from Bangladesh into India's north-east is underway as part of a proxy war by Pakistan with support from China, so to keep the area disturbed. Moreover, he also said migration from Bangladesh are happening ...

Sports »

Bronze medalist in the women`s Big Air snowboard Synnott Zoi Sadowski of New Zealand, poses during the medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Thursday.


.

Entertainment »

Priyanka Chopra terminates contract with Nirav Modi, not suing him yet


Priyanka Chopra has decided to cut ties with billionaire diamond trader Nirav Modi's brand following the news about the alleged banking fraud carried out by him. "In the light of recent allegations, Priyanka Chopra has chosen to terminate her contract with the Nirav Modi brand," a spokesperson of Priyanka, who ...

City »

BNP Standing Committee Member Barrister Moudud Ahmed speaking at a protest rally organised by Khaleda Zia Mukti Parishad at the Jatiya Press Club on Friday demanding release of BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia.


.

International »

Ex-Trump campaign associates face more charges


AP, Washington  :Dramatically escalating the pressure and stakes, special counsel Robert Mueller filed additional criminal charges Thursday against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and his business associate.The filing adds allegations of tax evasion and bank fraud and significantly increases the legal jeopardy facing Paul Manafort, who managed Trump's campaign ...

Front Page »

Amnesty accuses President Trump of HR violations


Human rights group Amnesty International has accused Donald Trump of "hateful" politics and of being a threat to human rights. "President Trump takes actions that violate human rights at home and abroad," the group said. Amnesty put Mr Trump in the same group as the leaders of Egypt, Russia, China, ...

Editorial »

Serving people not making money must be the motto


PHYSICIANS must provide treatment, President Abdul Hamid said to common people at affordable cost so that no one remained deprived of receiving treatment for lack of money. He made the call while addressing the third convocation of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in the city on Monday. He has also ...

Sports »

Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic celebrates after she beats Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.


Entertainment »

Alicia Vikander loves `big adventure films`


Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander said she loves "independent and arthouse" cinema, but is also attracted towards the big adventure films.The actress, who will be soon seen as Lara Croft in the forthcoming film 'Tomb Raider', also shared that she found training and muscle-building exercise for the role, empowering. "My mother, ...

International »

Merkel calls for Europe to step up to global challenges


Reuters, Berlin  :The European Union must develop a response to growing global political and economic pressures and this will be the spirit of an EU summit this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.Merkel pointed to the crisis in Syria and the growing importance of Asian economies as needing ...

 
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