Weekly media digest

October 23, 2020

SyriaUntold brings you the latest edition of our digest. We want to share with you the news, features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we're reading this week.

23 October 2020

Permission to kill (Carnegie Middle East Center)

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Raqqa, at the center of the universe

16 August 2020
In Shahla Ujayli's latest novel, Raqqa is a summer’s dream: briefly beautiful, and then gone. Yet it is also preserved in memory.

“The story of an unfortunate man who recently returned from opposition-held areas to Deir Hafer illustrates how vague and decentralized the regime’s red lines have become. A shepherd by profession and a singer by passion, the man in his fifties had never engaged in any political activity. Confident of his ‘clean record,’ he decided to come home after being internally displaced. The man successfully crossed into regime-held areas near Al-Bab, suggesting he was not on the regime’s wanted list, and returned to his hometown. However, a few days later he was called in by the local security forces and has not been heard from since.

It is not known why he was targeted. Did he cross a red line?” Read more

Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center (Syrian Archive and Open Society Justice Initiative)

“On 21 August 2013, chemical weapons were dropped on Eastern and Western Ghouta, Syria. Over a thousand civilians died. It was the largest chemical massacre in the world since 1988.

International investigations showed that sarin had been used against civilians, including children. The UN Security Council called for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons program. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversaw the destruction of its chemical arsenal.

Yet, chemical weapons attacks happened again.” Read more

The Syrian mercenaries fighting foreign wars for Russia and Turkey (The New York Review)

“Abdel Basit is one of hundreds of Syrian fighters who, since the beginning of September, have been dispatched by Turkey to wage war against Armenia in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. In this competition for regional dominance, Syria’s broken and broke men have become the cannon fodder. Four of Abdel Basit’s friends from Rastan were killed in the span of two days, shortly after disembarking in Azerbaijan. Two more were killed a week later.” Read more

Car bomb kills Muslim mufti for Syria’s capital: State media (Al Jazeera)

“A prominent Syrian Muslim leader in charge of the Damascus region was killed on Thursday when a bomb planted in his car exploded outside the capital, state news agency SANA said.

Adnan al-Afiyuni, the Sunni Muslim mufti for Damascus province, was considered to be close to President Bashar al-Assad who hails from the Alawite offshoot of Shia Islam.” Read more

Top White House official went to Syria for hostage talks (The Wall Street Journal)

“A top White House official recently traveled to Damascus for secret talks with the Assad regime, marking the first time such a high-level U.S. official has met in Syria with the isolated government in more than a decade, according to Trump administration officials and others familiar with the negotiations.” Read more

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