'Targeting life in Idlib': Syrian and Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure (Human Rights Watch)
“Human Rights Watch documented 46 air and ground attacks, including the use of cluster munitions, that directly hit or damaged civilian objects and infrastructure in Idlib in violation of the laws of war. The strikes killed at least 224 civilians and wounded 561. These were only a fraction of the total attacks during that time in Idlib and surrounding areas. The offensive displaced 1.4 million people, most in the final months of the operation.” Read more
Syrians ravaged by war are now dying from a pandemic the government has downplayed (Newlines)
“For almost two months after the first case was announced in Syria, official figures showed limited circulation of the virus, with under 50 cases by mid-May. At the time of this writing, that figure had risen to 4,457 cases in territories run by the government, 1,072 in rebel-controlled areas in northwestern Syria, and 1,998 in northeast Syria, where a predominantly Kurdish de facto autonomous administration is in charge. Only 192 deaths have been registered by the Ministry of Health.
The concern that the real scale of the outbreak in the war-weary country exceeds official figures not only persists today but has turned from being the subject of whispers among medical professionals into a full-fledged public panic.” Read more
How the Syrian regime undermines the response to COVID-19 (Center for Global Policy)
“Omar, a doctor working in a town in southern Syria, described a pattern that is repeating itself across the country; it began when a mukhabarat commander showed up at his office after news spread that he is accepting donations to provide free oxygen cylinders to the needy. ‘Abu Ali came to my office and said, ‘If you want to continue your work, hand over the list of beneficiaries and donors.’ I knew they would make trouble for them, so I said I only gave five oxygen tanks to people and had stopped accepting donations.’" Read more
How a Syrian ambassador’s friend made a million selling him an embassy (OCCRP)
“The Art Deco-style mansion at 47 Paris Street in Bucharest was never going to be cheap. It measures over a thousand square meters, sits in a prime neighborhood favored by diplomats, and was built by legendary Romanian engineer Emil Prager in 1933.
But it still raised eyebrows among some in Romania’s capital when the white stone building shot up in value by a million euros in under a week in 2009.” Read more
Among Syria’s revolutionaries (Newlines)
“I was waiting for lawyer Razan Zaitouneh to appear while the young woman in front of me smoked a cigarette and made small talk about how she constantly moved around to avoid the Syrian intelligence services, referred to as the mukhabarat. With her reddish-blond hair and jeans, I figured she was probably an older graduate student or a recent graduate of Damascus University faculty helping Zaitouneh organize the massive street protests underway almost nightly in the Damascus region. I didn’t want to be rude and ask the young woman when Razan would arrive. After all, it had been hard enough for me and my embassy colleagues that dark May night to reach the apartment without drawing a horde of Syrian secret police behind us.” Read more