Weekly media digest

'Crumbling' Syrian hospitals, a coating of snow, and a jihadi leader's attempted PR makeover

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.

19 February 2021

Illustration by Rami Khoury

Crude home remedies and crumbling hospitals: Syria's struggle with Covid-19 (The National)

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“With low incomes—or no income—Syrians in government-controlled areas are avoiding private hospitals, even after showing severe symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

Public hospitals are also not an option because most of them lack basic supplies and do not observe best practices. Oxygen canisters are in short supply and methods for treating complications from the disease are seldom followed. Beds have exceeded their capacity.” Read more

AI emerges as crucial tool for groups seeking justice for Syria war crimes (The Wall Street Journal)

“By most accounts, the Syrian conflict has been the most documented war in history.

But that mammoth trove of evidence—millions of videos, photos, social-media posts and satellite imagery—doesn’t easily translate into accountability for crimes committed during the war.

So as the United Nations, European authorities and human-rights groups build war-crimes cases, they have turned to a novel tool: artificial intelligence.” Read more

Held hostage in Syria, a reporter tells what it took to survive (The New York Times)

“In the fall of 2012, Theo Padnos was down and out in Antakya. An American freelance reporter in his early 40s, he was bunking at a grotty guesthouse in this town in southern Turkey on the border with Syria. Magazine editors were ignoring his emails. His funds had shrunk to a few hundred dollars. He felt lonely.

One evening, Padnos met a pair of young Syrians who, calling themselves citizen journalists, offered to spirit him into their country to report on the war unfolding there. Despite some troubling omens — another reporter, Austin Tice, had vanished weeks earlier — Padnos leapt at the offer. Less than 24 hours later he was sprinting across the border, into Syria, and headlong into a personal catastrophe.” Read more

Rare snow blankets the Middle East, casting a quiet magic (The Washington Post)

“It is a particular kind of magic: watching snow fall in the Middle East. In a region associated with desert stretches and warm winters, the blanket of white casts a silencing charm. Snow is fleeting, and when it falls, places like Istanbul, Jerusalem, a refugee camp in Syria or Iraq’s Kurdish north go quiet.” Read more

Syrian jihadi overhauls image in effort to hang on to power (Financial Times)

“Once synonymous with combat fatigues and weapons, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani has undergone an image change, with the Syrian jihadi this month photographed wearing a western-style business suit.

Jolani is the commander of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Islamist militants that rules the northwestern region of Idlib, the final bastion of revolutionary opposition to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria after nearly a decade of civil war.” Read more

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