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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 07
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Remains of the destroyed Jobar Grand Mosque in the rebel held part of Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 08
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Remains of the destroyed Jobar Grand Mosque in the rebel held part of Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 09
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Remains of the destroyed Jobar Grand Mosque in the rebel held part of Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 10
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue was an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May of 2014.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 11
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue was an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May of 2014.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 12
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue was an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May of 2014.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 13
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Inside the destroyed Jobar Grand Mosque in the rebel held part of Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 14
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Inside the destroyed Jobar Grand Mosque in the rebel held part of Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 15
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Inside the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May of 2014.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 16
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Inside the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May of 2014.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 17
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Inside the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May of 2014.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 18
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

On the wall The Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue a plaque stating it was from 720 b.c.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 19
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

On the wall The Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue a plaque stating it was from 720 b.c.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 20
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Al-Sadat Mosque was also destroyed in the Syrian civil war. The famous ancient mosque is located some 450 meters to the east of the The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Jobar, Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 21
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Destroyed buildings near The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Jobar, Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue 22
Damascus, Syria
By mchreyteh
14 Apr 2016

Al-Sadat Mosque was also destroyed in the Syrian civil war. The famous ancient mosque is located some 450 meters to the east of the The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Jobar, Damascus.

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Oldest Damascus Synagogue
Damascus, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
14 Apr 2016

Ancient Jewish and Islamic sites in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus are victims of the Syrian civil war. The rebel held area includes the oldest synagogue in Damascus and one of the oldest in the world.
The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue complex was heavily damaged in May of 2014, during shelling by the Syrian regime forces as they attempted to retake the area.
Mortar bombs also damaged and destroyed neighboring ancient Islamic sites such as the al-Sadat Mosque, al-Assaami tomb, and the Old Bath. All were hundreds of years old.
The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue used to contain what is believed to be the oldest Torah. Both regime and rebels accuse the other of stealing the synagogue’s artifacts.
The Jobar neighborhood has been controlled by Syrian rebels since regime forces withdrew in 2013. It is the closest opposition held area to central Damascus, and witnesses clashes almost on a daily basis.
Translation:
- (02:18) Abu Kamakl, Local activist:

“The Synagogue remained here in Jobar until the beginning of 2013 before the withdrawal of the regime forces. It used to contain the oldest Torah in the world and the closet to the Torah of the prophet Moses. The Synagogue also known asThe Prophet Khedr Tomb, was looted in 2013 when the regime forces withdrew from the area, they stole all the content and ancient properties of the synagogue. The Synagogue is a complex composed of two main courtyards, one of which is renovated and contains the house of the synagogue servant, and a second very old courtyard. After it was looted the regime bombed the synagogue many times until it was destroyed, as you can see there is almost nothing left of the building. There used to be a passage here and a passage there and the tomb of the prophet Khedr, the house of the servant a small school belonging to the synagogue, they were all destroyed in shelling, twice with airstrikes, once with remotely guided missiles, and now the synagogue turned to be only rocks.”

  • (05:25) Abu Najem, Resident of Jobar:

“We are here near the Jobar Grand Mosque.. When the Alawite regime recognized the value of this historical old mosque that was built in the era of the Caliph Omar ben Abdul Aziz, he destroyed it to prevent muslims from coming and praying inside. As you can see they destroyed it, as they also destroyed the neighboring synagogue which is the most inveterate in the world not only in Syria, it was also looted by the Shabiha who left nothing behind. Also the targeted the Harmala ben Walid Mosque which has a great historical value and it’s famous among the Arab world, the regime forces ruined it before leaving the area.”

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Emergency Response Team Ghouta, Syria
Ghouta, Damascus
By Jawad Arbini
02 Mar 2016

The Syrian Civil Defense Corps, known as The White Helmets, constantly seeks new volunteers to attend training classes on rescue and first aid, in part due to the constant loss of aid workers in dangerous rescue operations in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus.

This video shot in Zamalka shows volunteers undergoing training classes to increase their preparedness for their next rescue mission. It also follows Civil Defense volunteers on a real-life rescue mission, where they hurry to the site of a bomb blast to rescue victims and perform critical first aid.

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Interview with Syrian Deputy Prime Mi...
Damascus
By Martin Jay
12 Dec 2015

Interview with then Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Abdullah Abdel Razzaq Al Dardari, in Damascus, Syria, in 2007. He later resigned, as all the cabinet, on March 29, 2011 in the wake of the Syrian uprising and later civil war in Syria.

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Damascus Traffic Scenes in 2007
Damascus
By Martin Jay
27 Nov 2015

Footage of traffic and street scenes in Damascus, Syria, in 2007.

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Damascus Iraqi Refugees in 2007
Damascus
By Martin Jay
25 Nov 2015

Footage of Iraqi refugees on the streets of Damascus in 2007.

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Escape to Europe Hidden in the Back o...
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
03 Nov 2015

Two teenage Syrian girls describe the harrowing journey from Syria to Sweden, just two of 1,049,716 who made the journey to Europe to seek asylum from conflict in 2015.

Full Stroy:

BÅSTAD, Sweden – The two girls huddled together bracing against the bumps and jerks of the long journey. In the darkness they could see the outline of the other refugees who shared their ride, but it was too dark to see their faces.

Suddenly, a small window slid open at the front of the truck container. A man’s voice yelled to the group of occupants to be silent. A hush fell over the travelers as the girls wondered where they were, and what danger was lurking on the other side of their metal box.

“The hardest part is not knowing where you are – just the inside of a truck,” said Reny Borro, 15, who now lives in a refugee camp in Sweden. Sitting next to her at the table was her best friend and former travel companion Hanin Atbash.

“We didn’t even know if it was night or day because we were always in the dark. It smelled so horrible in there,” recalled Hanin, who lives in another camp 15km away.

The girls were on a 10-day journey set to change their lives entirely. Any hope of going home had been shattered years ago by the conflict that ignited in 2011, forcing their families to flee to Turkey. Now, they were on route to Sweden.

“The [driver] would open the door and he would just say ‘Move! Move! Fast! Fast!’” Hanin said, recalling how every few days the group would change vehicles. “He was really rude with us. We’d just move from this truck to another truck. He’d say don’t ask where we are or what we’re doing. Just move. That’s how we came here.”

Together with their mothers, young brothers and Hanin’s father, they were a living cargo being shipped across the continent for tens of thousands in cash.

Life in Syria

The girls, now 15, were not yet teenagers when the conflict began four and half years ago.

“Life was normal, happy,” said Reny as she described her childhood in Aleppo, Syria. “Going to school, going to my grandmothers. Being cooked the best food. We had our home. I had my room, my friends. Then all the problems started.”

Reny is Kurdish, a minority group that make up around 10% of the Syrian population. Before the revolution began, Reny said her class paid no attention to religious and ethnic differences.

“We were all friends,” she said.

But as the revolution gained momentum divisions and distrust set in.

“We weren’t a class anymore,” Reny said.

One day, Reny’s brother, then 7, came home in tears. His best friend, also a Kurd, had been beaten by Arab students at school.

“He saw this happen and was so scared and crying,” she said. “From that time on, we didn’t go to school.”

The day the bombing started in Aleppo, Reny’s father booked them all bus tickets to stay with his relatives in the Kurdish town of Qamishli. They packed light planning to return within a few days, leaving almost everything they owned behind including crucial documents and personal treasures.

“I have no idea if my house is still there, or if my room is still standing,” said Reny.

Meanwhile, in Damascus, things were heating up in Hanin’s neighborhood.

“When the protests started it was pretty scary because there were a lot of kidnappings and things, so we stayed at home mostly. But in our area, bombs might come over at any time,” Hanin said.

People had begun to disappear. Thousands were arrested first by government forces and later by ad hoc rebel groups and criminal gangs. Kidnappings to extort money from families were on the increase by all sides. Anyone, young or old, could be targeted.

Hanin spoke of one incident when her mother, held up by street protests and road blocks, was late in picking her up from school. As she waited alone, a group of young men began to gather across the street, staring and pointing in her direction. Scared she walked on but the group followed, all the time watching her.

“I was so scared they were going to kidnap me,” Hanin said. “Then my mother came. I was so scared I was shouting at her in the car for being late. From that day on, I stopped going to school.”

Escaping the chaos

Soon after, Hanin’s father, who had already fled conflict in his native Palestine over a decade before, decided to pack up his family and flee again. But leaving was not so easy. Others who had tried were arrested and imprisoned by the government, disappeared at checkpoints, or simply vanished on route. They were going to need a smuggler.

“We didn’t know who this man was. We didn’t know anything about him,” Hanin said, describing the driver who collected them from her grandfather’s house silently in the dead of night. “He covered his face so we couldn’t even see him. We just gave him the money and got into the truck.”

The trip from Damascus to the Turkish border, normally a mere 4-hour drive, took one week.

“There were other families [in the truck] but we didn’t know them or even speak with them. We couldn’t even see each other. We’d just see some bodies when the door opened,” Hanin said.

The family had no idea where they were or what was going on around them. Silently they prayed in the darkness they were heading out of Syria and no one would catch them along the way.

“[The driver] would give us something – I can’t call it food – just something to stop the hunger. For the bathroom we had to hold it most of the time."

When they arrived safely in Turkey, Hanin said they saw their travel companions for the first time. 

"We were all like, “Oh my God, were you the families with us in the truck?” It was kind of like freedom because I was so scared in Syria and then in the truck thinking the police could take us at ay time. We were really scared. So it was a relief.”

In Turkey, Hanin met Reny whose family had also fled there from the Kurdish region which was now under threat from extremist forces who had developed a bitter rivalry with the Kurdish militia groups.

To Europe in the back of a truck

For more than a year, the two families struggled in Turkey without legal status or decent work. Finally, with all hope of returning to Syria lost, they began planning an escape to Europe.

Reny’s mother ruled out sea travel as stories of boat wrecks and drowning’s trickled back to them every week. Last year, the Missing Migrants Project recorded 3,771 dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea on route to Europe.  

So a journey by truck was planned. But the smugglers were notorious for swindles and more deadly deceits, so Reny’s father stayed behind in Turkey with the smugglers, ready to pay as soon as he received word that the two families had arrived safely.

Again Hanin sat in the dark, never knowing where they were or if they would make it. But on this journey she had a friend and the girls became a great comfort to each other.

“This time if we die, we die together,” Hanin said. But still she became overwhelmed by fear and sadness as she thought of her grandparents and others she left behind.

“I was terrified and overthinking. Our parents tried their best to comfort us and talk with us. I was mostly in my mother’s arms. Then one day, [the driver] just opened the door and said ok you are here, go and do whatever you want. That was it. We didn’t have anything to say to each other, even thank you because he was so rude with us.”

The girls found themselves in Sweden. This time it was Reny who struggled. She missed her father deeply and had received news that he was ill and would undergo surgery in Turkey alone.

“I felt so bad inside,” Reny said. “Everything was different. I couldn’t understand the language. I was feeling so empty…[The immigration center] was full of people smelling so bad. It was horrible.”

After a few days they were sent to a camp. Reny described their tiny room as smelly and dirty.

“Our room didn’t even have a toilet.”

The family soon moved to a second camp in Bastad. Although the room she shared with her brother and mother was small, it was clean, but still Reny struggled with her emotions.

“For 10 days I didn’t leave the room. I didn’t eat. I didn’t talk to anyone.”

The start of a new life

Reny soon settled and began making friends and attending Swedish classes with other refugee students. Seven months later, both families are still waiting for a decision to be made about their residency applications. But already the girls are enjoying their new stable lives and making plans for their futures.

With her passion for languages, Reny hopes to work as a translator. Hanin wants to study psychology.

“It’s great in Sweden! We can look up at the sky and nothing is following us. There’s no danger. Its quiet, no people screaming,” Hanin said. ”Here I can reach my dreams.”

Overall, they say the Swedes have been kind and welcoming, but things aren’t always smooth.

“There are some Swedish people that don’t want us here,” Reny said. “Cars come past the camp and they stick up their fingers or yell bad words – these are the people that have closed minds. But on the other hand, there are many good people and I’ve made a lot of friends.”

Hanin added the Swedes “have taken us all into their hearts” and have provided well for the many immigrants that continue to arrive. But religious stereotypes in the West have come as a shock.

“When people think that I am someone who would kill them, or I’m a bad person just because I’m Muslim, it makes me sad,” Hanin said.

“Everyone loves his own country. There are reasons we come here. The judgment is not good,” Reny added.

Even within the camp, it’s not always easy. Without a man in the family, Reny says she has received some harassment.

“There are some bad guys so I got hassled. Most of the women wear hijabs. As Kurdish we have a more open culture so as you can see I don’t wear one. But the camp is full of people from all over the world. Some are bad, but most are good.”

In the days following this interview, Reny’s father finally arrived in Sweden to an emotional reunion. Both families are confident they will receive their decision soon.

“When I was in Syria I felt like it’s over – everything was hopeless,” Hanin said as they reminisced about the day they emerged from the back of a truck into a very different world. “In 10 days your whole life has changed.”

Wherever they end up, the one thing the girls say they are sure of is that they will always be friends.

“We’d lived a really interesting and horrible and successful story together,” said Reny as Hanin nodded and laughed in agreement. “These days we call it an adventure. But, it was really scary. I don’t want to live it again, but it’s a memory that will never disappear.”

 

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
03 Nov 2015

Syrian refugee Reny Borro, 15, in her new home in Bastad, Sweden.

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
03 Nov 2015

Syrian refugee Hanin Atbash, 15, in her new home in Bastad, Sweden.

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
03 Nov 2015

Hanin Atbash and Reny Borro pose together for a photo in Bastad, Sweden. The two best friends hid in the back of a truck to escape the conflict in Syria and travel to Europe to begin a new life. They now live in refugee camps in Southern Sweden awaiting their refugee application decisions.

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
03 Nov 2015

Volunteers conduct free Swedish lessons in a camp in Bastad, Sweden.

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
02 Nov 2015

Asylum seekers receive food at a camp in Bastad, Sweden.

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
28 Oct 2015

Rooms for single men at the refugee camp in Bastad, Sweden.

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Journey to Europe
Bastad
By Tracey Shelton
28 Oct 2015

Refugees awaiting asylum play football at a camp in Bastad, Sweden.

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Damascus Street Scenes (B-roll)
Damascus, Syria
By TTM Contributor 4
21 Sep 2015

Various shots of streets and the old market in the government-controlled part of Damascus, Syria.

Note: Interview with Damascus residents about life in the city (not translated)

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

At the field hospital, a medic gives first aid for Abu Yehia, who suffers from injuries and burns due to the airstrike on his apartment.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

A medic that did not want to show his face holds the pants of a victim that lost his right leg due to the airstrike.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

Medics use a defibrillator as they try to restart the heart of a victim who was seriously injured in the bombing. Despite the effort of the doctors, the man died.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

A man holds his baby daughter who is injured in the bombing on Douma. He is waiting for help from medics in the small field hospital, as they are busy trying to treat more serious cases.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

A tractor removing debris in the neighborhood that was hit by the airstrike.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

Man checking his apartment in the neighborhood that was hit by the airstrike.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

Local rescuers use a tractor to remove debris in the neighborhood that was hit by the airstrike.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

A tractor removing debris in the neighborhood that was hit by the airstrike.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

Walaa al-Saour was pregnant when killed in the airstrike. Doctors were able to save her eight months pre-mature baby.

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Opposition Held Douma Under Syrian Re...
Douma, Syria
By Jawad Arbini
27 Jul 2015

Walaa al-Saour was pregnant when killed in the airstrike. Doctors were able to save her eight months pre-mature baby.