A once powerful patriarch returns to an unrecognizable Syria (Newlines Magazine)
“The new Syria that Rifaat has landed in is — in terms of political system and geopolitical weight — nothing like the one he saw during a brief and unannounced visit to Damascus and Latakia in the 1990s or the one he must have been following in the news during his years of exile in Europe.” Read more
Assad regime ‘siphons millions in aid’ by manipulating Syria’s currency (The Guardian)
“The Syrian government is siphoning off millions of dollars of foreign aid by forcing UN agencies to use a lower exchange rate, according to new research.
The Central Bank of Syria, which is sanctioned by the UK, US and EU, in effect made $60m (£44m) in 2020 by pocketing $0.51 of every aid dollar sent to Syria, making UN contracts one of the biggest money-making avenues for President Bashar al-Assad and his government, researchers from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Operations & Policy Center thinktank and the Center for Operational Analysis and Research found.” Read more
Syrians also lost their kindness (Raseef22)
“The memory of a place is a heavy one. We Syrians are the most familiar with the burden of this heavy load. A place has its horizons, its opportunities, its exclusions, and most important of all, it has its own time, a time that is not necessarily consistent with our personal time.
For five years, my place has been outside the country, in another land. Years full of cruelty. This cruelty, in all its forms and manifestations and only in the concept of forced emigration, was not as fragile as the fragility it inflicts on you in reshaping your identity.” Read more
Behind the ‘photo of the year’: Life without limbs for a Syrian father and his son (The Washington Post)
“Syrian father Munzir al-Nazzal has struggled to get by since he was injured in a bombing of a market and fled to Turkey. But what occupies his thoughts most of the time is not the leg he lost: It’s the future of his 5-year-old son, Mustafa, who was born without limbs.
The two are the subjects of a photo by Turkish photographer Mehmet Aslan, which came in first out of thousands as photo of the year in the annual Siena International Photo Awards.” Read more
Syria executes 24 people for setting wildfires, calling it ‘terrorism’ (The New York Times)
“The Syrian government has executed 24 people and sentenced 11 others to life in prison with hard labor for lighting wildfires that burned across the country’s northwest last year, the Syrian justice ministry announced in a statement on Facebook on Thursday.
The people convicted were accused not of arson but of terrorism, the government said, because their actions caused death, as well as extensive damage to infrastructure, private and public property, farmland and forests.” Read more
Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture (AFP)
“Syria is home to some of the Arab world's literary giants, and Damascus boasted an abundance of busy bookshops and publishing houses printing and distributing original and translated works. But the city's literary flare has faded.
A decade-old civil war, a chronic economic crisis and a creative brain drain that has deprived Syria of some of its best writers and many of their readers, have compounded worldwide problems facing the industry, such as the growing popularity of e-books.” Read more
27 dead in Syria after bombing of army bus sparks revenge attack (The Guardian)
“At least 27 people have died in Syria after the rare bombing of an army bus in Damascus, followed by what appeared to be tit-for-tat regime shelling of a town in the rebel-held north-west that killed four children on their way to school.
Two bombs planted on a bus carrying soldiers in central Damascus were detonated during the Wednesday morning rush-hour, killing 14 people in the worst such attack in the capital in four years, the Sana state news agency reported.” Read more