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Syrian Assyrians Flee ISIS to Qamishli
By TTM Contributor 33
25 Feb 2015

Qamishli, Syria
February 26, 2015

Christian-Assyrian refugees seek refuge in the Kurdish controlled city of Qamishli after fleeing ISIS advances on their villages of Tal Tamer, Tal Harmoza, Tal al-Jazeera, Tal Kouran and Abu Tina in the Hasakeh province. ISIS militants recently kidnapped 220 Assyrians in Hasakeh province setting a dangerous precedent for christians in the area and spurring entire villages to abandon their homes and flee ISIS advances.


Wide/ external of the Syriac Cultural Association in Syria
Wide of men holding diaper packs destined for displaced families
Wide of diaper packs and other supplies
Wide of supplies in pickup trucks
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Michael Kourieh, Member of the Syriac Cross
00:23 – 01:30
The Syriac Cross for Relief and Development. Our work currently revolves on to help our Assyrian brothers who fled the Khabour and Tal Tamer areas. They are living in several Assyrian churches. Our aim is to help the Assyrian so that they would feel at home. As you see from these supplies, we work all day long so they would not feel like strangers.
More importantly, from the information that we gathered, we learned that the displaced came from the Khabour area in the hundreds.
We feel sad about that, but we are trying our best to help them and offer them aid.
Various associations in Qamishli are involved in this work, such as the United Nations and Mother Syria Association. Everyone is making an effort [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. We are all coordinating our work and we hope that everyone is pleased with our work. God willing, we shall remain a unified people. “

Wide of Syriac Cross members unloading aid supplies
Wide/ external Syriac Cultural Association in Syria
Wide of aid supplies

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Elizabeth Jouqa, A displaced from Tal Tamer area

01:50 – 03:30

We fled the moment we first heard that ISIS kidnapped women, young men and children. We ran away before ISIS arrived to avoid being captured.
Interviewer: Did many people flee?
Many! There is about 600 [displaced] families here in Qamishli. May God safeguard you.
My relatives were abducted. We do not where they are. Amy God protect them from [ISIS]. May God break their arms.
Interviewer: When did the attack take place?
It was in the morning. We heard about in the morning. We called our relatives In Tal Shmeiran who told us that [ISIS] invaded their village. They said that [ISIS] had taken the men two days earlier to an unknown location and that they were like sheep to the church and did not know what was going to happen to them.
Our men, fighters from the Sotoro organisation and the Kurds, may God protect them, defended the people, but what could they do? The others [ISIS] are many. There were probably 600 of them.
Interviewer: who do you demand help from? The international community? The autonomous administration here? Regional countries?

What can I say?
Interviewer: Do you want aid form the United Nations? Who do you want aid from?

We are grateful for anyone who wants to help us. I do not know who should help us.
Wide of Syriac Cross members unloading aid supplies
Wide of street
Traveling of street

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Julia Butros, A displaced from Tal Tawil village
03:49 – 05:27
It was in at five in the evening. They [the rescuers] took children and their father. It was at five o’clock. People fled using a mobile diesel tank. They removed the tank from the vehicle and put people in its place and took to Hasaka, and from Hasaka they were brought here to Qamishli. People arrived here at midnight. The trip started at five and took all night long.
We do not anyone who was kidnapped. It is said that people were kidnapped in other villages. We cannot say anything other than that we have seen did not see.
Interviewer: Did ISIS blow churches?
They did in another village but not in Tal Tawil. They blew up churches in another village. . In other villages there people whose whereabouts are not known.
Interviewer: How many people fled to Hasaka and Qamishli?

I do not know. May be around 300 or 400 people. Around 100 people fled from our village, Tal Tawil.

Interviewer: who do you demand help from? The international community? The United Nations?
May God reward them, whether they offered aid or not. May God reward you and anyone who helps these troubled people.
Interviewer: Is ISIS present in your village?
[ISIS] is present in other villages. This man’s wife does know anything about her family. Interviewer: Did the Kurdish fighters and the Syriac Council liberate these villages?
They are trying to help, I am not saying that they are not, but what can they do?

Wide of Syriac Cross members unloading aid supplies
Various of Christian icons hung on a wall
Close-up of sign hung on an aid vehicle reads: “An initiative of love and solidarity towards from Tal Tamer and Khabour.”

Close-up of sign on aid vehicle “Syriac Cross Organization for Relief & Development”
Medium of sign on aid vehicle “Syriac Cross Organization for Relief & Development”

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New Economy Changing the Face of Chin...
By Phil Behan
11 Nov 2014

Over the past 7 to 10 years Chinese society has undergone rapid transformation socially, economically and politically. The face of this change is best seen in China’s youth. They are the people who are moving China forward. Many youth find themselves caught between tradition and modernity as they try to find their sense of identity and place in an ever changing society. 

Some of the changes in Chinese society can be seen in the weddings and marriage customs of young Chinese newlyweds. Zheng Ying met her husband through a mutual friend and they now live together in their new home in Guangzhou. Old Chinese traditions often saw newly married couples move directly into the groom's home, but now, with China's economic growth, couples are becoming wealthier and more independent and many are buying their own homes and abandoning old traditions.

Modern Chinese wedding ceremonies often infuse Western style opulence alongside ancient Chinese traditions. With a massive surge in the disposable income available to Chinese citizens, no expense is spared in making the ceremonies as lavish as possible. In a country where image and stature are of great importance, the typical Chinese family is spending great amounts of money on their child's wedding.

These photos explore the rapid cultural and economic changes taking place in China through the wedding ceremonies of young Chinese couples. 


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Freediving kas turkey 01
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
30 Sep 2014

Kaputas beach is one of Kas' main tourist attractions due to the colour of its beautiful warm water and pleasant sandy beach.

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Underwater High: Turkey's Female Free...
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Kas, Turkey
September 29, 2014

As a child Sahika Ercumen had acute asthma. Her breathing difficulties were so bad that until age twelve she couldn’t do any physical activities and spent most of her time sat at home. Determined to confront her illness she went to her local swimming club and jumped into the water.

To everyone’s surprise Sahika was a natural swimmer. Like many young girls she had imagined life as a mermaid and her newfound love for water ultimately changed her life. “I felt I was diving in another world, in a dream world. It was so relaxing, so nice underwater. I hadn’t played sports until I was 12 years-old because of a sickness, so it was really a miracle for me.”

The swimming coach asked her to hold her breath and swim underwater. In her first attempt she out performed the club professionals and knew she wanted to dedicate her life to the sport. Through intense training, her physical strength improved, as did her immune system, until she was no longer affected by her asthma.

Sahika is now the leading female free diver with six world records including the women’s deepest return dive on a single breath – an astonishing 91 meters.

Sahika also now trains and mentors aspiring new freedivers in workshops in the Turkish coastal town of Kas.

Freediving is an extreme sport in which participants swim for long distances underwater to exceptional depths, or for long periods of time, on a single breath without the use of scuba gear. Unsurprisingly it requires great physical and mental strength as Sahika explains, “After 20-30 meters your lungs are the size of a football, as the pressure increases they get smaller and smaller. By 30-40 meters your lungs are like tennis balls… Your veins too are getting smaller and your heart rate drops. The blood circulation moves to only your heart, brain and vital organs – there’s a big change [to your body].”

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Free Diving world record holder Sahika Ercumen during a training dive in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Free Diving record holder Sahika Ercumen surfaces after a training dive out at sea near Kas in Antalya, Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 12
By Mark_Esplin
28 Sep 2014

Free dive enthusiasts check out the action below as they wait their turn to dive during a workshop lead by Sahika Ercumen.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Free Diving world record holder Sahika Ercumen leads a breathing workshop in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

A student relaxes during a yoga session as part of a free diving workshop lead by Sahika Ercumen in Kas, Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Sahika Ercumen teaches breathing exercises during a free diving workshop in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

A student laughs during a breathing workshop lead by free diving record holder Sahika Ercumen in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Though well known throughout Turkey, Kas remains less popular with foreign tourists than the near-by towns of Bodrum and Antalya city.

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Freediving kas turkey 11
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Sahika Ercumen instructs students during a breathing workshop in Kas, Southern turkey.

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Renewed FSA Offensive Against IS near...
Aleppo Province
By TTM Contributor 4
22 Sep 2014

September 19-20, 2014
FSA front lines, in Northern Aleppo Province

In the lead up to possible American strikes in Syria, the Free Syrian Army has launched a renewed offensive against ISIS in northern Aleppo province. The FSA frontier extends for 70 KM from the town of Shaeer, in the south, to the Syrian-Turkish border in the north. Managed by Nahrawan al-Sham operation room, the FSA is using many light to heavy weaponry distributed along the frontier. ISIS is taking advantage of the gathering of FSA fighters to attack them with car bombs. This has forced the FSA to increase road blocks and searching points. The two sides continue to attack each other, as they have been for the past two months.

Sound Bites:
Sound Bite 1: (Man, Arabic)
Abu al-Abbas, Heavy weaponry brigade leader in the Nahrawan al-Sham operation room:
“We are now attacking ISIS locations from a 2400m distance with a locally made 90mm mortar. Thank God, we have a strong spirit and we are very motivated in the operation room”.

Sound Bite 2: (Man, Arabic)
Abu Maher, Field leader in Nahrawan operation room:
“We are now stationed in one of the attacking frontiers against ISIS. We are a part of the fighting groups located on the frontier, we are on the first line with ISIS. We are all one and we are all cooperating and working under the orders of the operation room. Throughout the night, many conflicts happen and, in the upcoming few days, there will be movement”.

Sound Bite 3: (Man, Arabic)
Abu al-Laith, a sector leader in the operation room:
“We are stationed and prepared to fight ISIS, we are working under one operation room and any move ISIS makes we will be ready to attack with mortars and heavy weaponry. The distance between us and them is 700 meters”.

Shot List:
Various shots of the fighters preparing the mortar to attack ISIS locations.
A shot of a locally made 90mm mortar firing towards ISIS locations.
Various shots of the fighters on the frontier where they fight ISIS.
Various shots of the FSA fighters aiming at ISIS with heavy weaponry.

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FSA Offensive Against IS near Aleppo
By Abdu al-Fadel
21 Sep 2014

September 21, 2014
al-Sabit, Aleppo Province, Syria

After the battles between ISIS and the FSA, control of rural areas north of Aleppo went to ISIS, from (al-Raei) town to (Azaaz). ISIS now controls an area that runs from (al-Raei) south to the town of (Marei) and the villages of (Souran) and (Ehtemilat), ISIS now holds a straight line from (al-Bab) city in eastern Aleppo to the town of (Marea). where a number of opposition armed factions are now participating in the ongoing battle. to the east, fighters from the (Nour al-Din al-Zinki) movement in (Ehtimilat) and (Souran) are fighting along side fighters from the (Fajr al-Horeya) brigade, and the (Jaish al-Mojahideen), all affiliated to the FSA and the fighters of the (Islamic Front).
On the other hand lines are being formed and held in the town of (Raii) in northern rural Aleppo, where fighters from the (Islamic Front) have the biggest presence with fighters from (al-Nusra) brigade.
up till this moment the lines mentioned above are holding and no advances from any side were recorded. only mutual artillery fire is an indication to an active front.


Speaker: “Allahu Akbar. We are now in the northern area. The Free Syrian army is engaged in freeing the town of Al Sabit. We are standing next to the mosque of Al Sabit, fighting against Al-Baghdadi’s troops. With us now is the leader of this offensive. Abu Ali, tell us about this battle.”

Abu Ali: “Thanks be to God, who helped us come into this town, and we were thankfully able to free it from those dogs. Hopefully we’ll advance even further up into the town’s gate.”

Speaker: “These people are part of a gathering of the inhabitants of Al Sabit to free the town. Here with us is Abu Mahmoud. Abu Mahmoud, what comments do you have?”

Abu Mahmoud: “I’m not available for comment now.”

Speaker: “Hamid, what do you want to say about the current situation?”

Hamid: “When the bullets started to fire at my car with Abu Youssef inside, I tried to open the door, but they shut it and kept it closed with all of us inside.”

Speaker: “So we’re actually talking to Hamid, the living martyr. And now we’re with another fighter, Abu Youssef. Earlier we tried talking to him but he was called away. Now what do you have to say?”

Abu Youssef: “Whoever God blesses with long life will not be harmed no matter what. Hopefully God will protect us all. Allahu Akbar.”

Speaker: Now I’m crouching down to show the car that we escaped out of. No one can believe anyone came out of it alive, but we all did by the grace of God. Here is the car. Its tires were shot and the whole left side is full of bullet holes. Thanks be to God that we came out of it in safety. Here are more fighters working to free the town. Allahu Akbar.

Commander giving orders to soldiers: “We’re going to advance in groups of three. I’ll go first and no one ask any questions. Cover me. I’ll go and hide behind that tank. Follow me. Now go and hide next to those tires.