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High-Risk Education in Aleppo
Aleppo, Syria
By Mahmoud Alhaji Othman
11 May 2016

January 10, 2016
Aleppo, Syria

Despite shelling and barrel bomb attacks, students and volunteer instructors are still showing up at al-Risala school in the rebel held Hanano area in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria.

With no or little resources, the teachers are trying to give students a basic education in the absence of a school curriculum in areas controlled by the Syrian opposition.

The school is located in a district which has been targeted in shelling and airstrikes. “The students and teachers are in danger, the building might be heavily damaged or even destroyed at any moment” says Ibrahim al-Ali, the school principal. “We have no choice but to keep operating at high risk. This is the situation in almost all schools in rebel held Aleppo”.


Nada, Teacher:
“The number of students is good, but we are short of instructors. Teachers are not available. Q: What are your main needs other than for teachers?
A: We actually need everything.. The school building needs restoration, the students have not received backpacks, the teachers have no support.. There’s a lack of everything.”

Abu Hassan, Teacher:
“I am the science teacher, I try my best to improve the scientific skills of the students whether in math or physics or chemistry. Q: How do you describe the student comprehension abilities?
A: Starting directly with the curriculum in books is impossible because the students did not have the chance to learn the basics. It’s been like a month since we started teaching them the basics, the simple operations such as addition and subtraction. Introduction to physics and introduction to chemistry, we are only teaching them the basics that they missed for now.”

Mohamed, Student:
“We are here in al-Risala School, in Hanano area.. We have few teachers, a teacher of mathematics and a teacher of religious education.. We have no other teachers, however they are trying to teach us the basics so we can understand the actual curriculum. I hope that Syria will be a safe and secure place again especially in Aleppo because Bachar al-Assad targets us with barrel bombs and has destroyed all areas of Aleppo. Even our instructors had to flee because of the massive shelling.”
Q: Did you see any fighter jets striking?
A: We’ve seen a lot, and barrel bombs are dropped over our heads.”

Zainab, Student:
“We have no books but they told us that they would bring us some. We came here to study but we have shortage of teachers. The teacher is trying his best to teach us. When winter comes we have no heaters and the windows are all damaged and we have no means to replace them. Every time we go out for recess helicopters come so they bring us back inside out of fear.”

Ibrahim al-Ali, School Principal:
“We are educating the students despite the lack of an educational system. Almost all teachers are volunteers. Some are university graduates, others have just graduated from school. They are all doing volunteer work with nothing in return. The condition of the school is miserable. The building needs restoration, electricity and water repairs. We face a persistent cut of electricity which is affecting the lighting in class rooms. We also need water tanks to store water. We are also expecting the problems which we went through last year such as lack of heaters and the windows destroyed because of the constant shelling and barrel bombs by the regime.”

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Syrian Soldiers Surrounded by Nusra F...
Jisr al-Shughour, Syria
By Abdu al-Fadel
11 May 2015

Jisr al-Shughour, Syria
May 11, 2015

More than 200 Syrian government fighters, possibly including high ranking officers, are believed to have been besieged in the government hospital complex in the town of Jisr al-Shughour for more than two weeks. This is one of the few locations where Syrian regime forces still exist in Idlib province. Syrian government forces have failed to break the siege despite several airstrikes and ground operations.

This video offers an inside look at positions held by the Nusra Front within the wrecked hospital complex, which has become a battlefield. Rebel fighters control three of the hospital's four main buildings.

Rebel military commanders speculated in interviews that high ranking Syrian, Iranian and Russian military officers, as well as the governor of Idlib might be caught in the remaining building.


Wide of building where Syrian government troops are hiding

Medium of Nusra Front fighter behind sandbags

Close-up of rifle tip

Various inside blood bank building held by Nusra Front

Various of destroyed buildings

Various inside the blood bank building

Wide of building held by regime forces

Various of Nusra Front fighters

Interview with Abu Zain al-Abidin, Nusra Front commander

Various of Abu Zain al-Abdidin with other Nusra Front fighters

Interview with unnamed Nusra Front fighter

Various of a room that was used as a detention center by regime forces

Interview with unnamed Nusra Front fighter

Close-up of graffiti written by regime fighters

Various of Nusra Front fighters attempting to approach regime-held building

Various of wrecked cars and killed regime fighters’ corpses

Medium of tank

Interview with Abu Omar al-Zaybaq, a Nusra Front commander

Various of regime-held building

Close-up of empty bullet casings

Various of Nusra Front fighters shooting at regime-held building

Wide of regime-held building


SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Abu Zain al-Abidin , Nusra Front Commander
(02:10 – 03:53)

“In the name of God, peace be upon God’s Messenger, and thanks be to God. We are inside Jisr al-Shughour Hospital. Over there is the hospital’s main gate; here is the external clinics building behind me. This is the external clinics building. We are now in the hospital’s surrounding.
Q: We heard that high ranking officers from regime forces are inside the hospital. What kind of information do you have about this? And what is the approximate number of people inside the hospital, which you are now besieging?
A: The estimated number of people is 250. There might be high ranking personalities or the governor [of Idlib province]. There might be important personalities.
Q: In reaction, what did the regime do to break the siege and how did you manage to push back the regime forces?
A: It [the regime] is using all sorts of weapons, such as warplanes; it is trying with all sorts of weapons, but, thanks be to God, we are prepared to confront it. We shall retaliate with sophisticated and modern means. The regime will witness surprises in the next few hours.

We enforced a security perimeter with a radius of about five to six km and they could not withdraw. If they were able to withdraw they would have done it. Some of them withdrew but the others could not.
Our attack, thanks be to God, was very fast and we were able to enforce the siege unexpectedly. The perimeter we enforced on them was large. They were not able to withdraw. If they could withdraw they would have done it.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Nusra Front Fighter
04:17 – 04:53
“We are now at the external clinics building in the National Hospital of Jisr al-Shughour. The infidel enemy is located in that building, which is a few meters away. We are now closing down on them with the help of God Almighty.
God willing, we will storm the building with explosive-rigged cars the likes of which the regime has not seen.
The men we have brought to fight you love death as much as you love life. We have brought migrant as well as local fighters. Thanks be to God.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Nusra Front Fighter
(05:17 – 05:54) “This is not a prison. This is supposed to be a hospital. However, God’s enemy turned this into a cell to detain Muslims. Unfortunately, look how Muslims draw on the walls. May God help us. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] Prisoners had no knives or weapons and were placed in the second floor underground. May God help us; may God help us. God willing, we have come to cut your throats.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Omar al-Zaybaq
(07:26 – 08:40)

“In the name of God, In the course of the hospital battle, thank be to God we are besieging [regime members] from all sides. Thanks be to God, we have controlled the three [main] buildings. There are one more building and the basement left.
God willing, we will soon be inside the basement where Assad’s gangs are located, which is where secrets are kept.

Q: What are these secrets? What is it that enabled people besieged in a single building to hold on?
A: God knows better, but it is said that the regime is so ferocious in trying to keep this hospital. God knows better, there might be high ranking officers, who could be Iranians or Russians. There could also be chemical weapons.
In the next few days we will bring you new information.”

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Life Underground: Syrians Seek Surviv...
By TTM Contributor 9
11 Mar 2015

Hama, Syria
March 11, 2015

Rebels and civilians in the Latamina area of northern Syria have taken to digging mountain shelters in order to protect themselves from government forces. A rebel battalion called Tajmmu al-Izza (Pride Gathering), aligned to the Free Syrian Army and operative in rural parts of Idlib and Hama provinces, is doing the bulk of the digging.

The ensuing network of artificial caves provides a base for combatants, as well as a shelter for the dwindling numbers of civilians who have not fled the area. These caves also house a field hospital and pharmacy with 30 meter walls and continue to serve civilians and fighters alike. On the other hand, any makeshift medical centers built above ground were routinely bombed by Assad forces, according to an interviewed rebel spokesman.

This video shows detailed scenes of workers digging one of these makeshift caves with only simple tools, a task that usually takes about 12-15 days to be completed. Footage also includes interviews with the spokesman and the head of Tajmmu al-Izza.


Wide of rebel vehicles outside cave
Wide of entry point to caves guarded by rebels

Wide of workers digging
Wide of worker taking debris out using wheel barrow
Various of workers drilling rocks
Various of workers taking debris out using wheel barrow
Various of workers building protection wall to shield cave entrance from bomb shrapnel

Wide of makeshift pharmacy
Wide of nurse working in pharmacy
Wide of entrance and emergency room in makeshift medical center
Various of nurse handling medication
Various of medical workers setting up operation room
Close-up of nurse preparing injection

Various of medical worker setting up operation room
Interview with Ubada al-Hamwi, rebel spokesperson
Various/ cutaways of Ubada al-Hamwi
Various of makeshift medical center and other caves
Various of rebel fighters inside caves

Medium of batteries used to provide lighting
Various of rebels in an office inside a cave Various/ Cutaways of Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group
Interview with Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group
Various/ Cutaways of Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Ubada al-Hamwi, rebel spokesperson
05:26 – 07:22

“The hospital was built underground in a rocky cliff. The rocks above it are about 30 meters high. This was done because of the bombing carried out by the regime, using explosive barrels and rockets. There was a need for an underground hospital to be built in order to protect medical staff, as well civilians and [fighters] who are being treated from injuries. The hospital has been established about 11 months ago. Most of the cases involve civilians injured in bombings. They could be injured by bomb shrapnel or suffer amputation. [The hospital provides] first aid to civilians. Fighters are usually treated from gunshots; undergo chest catheterization; and have shrapnel removed from their bodies as a result of mortar bombing. They also undergo surgery, which includes cutting the abdomen.
We needed a building that could protect doctors and medical workers, as well as the injured receiving treatment. An injured person feels more comfortable in a safe location.
Before we came up with this idea, we had an ordinary building that was repeatedly hit. We came up with this idea to provide the injured with safe and healthy conditions.
Digging was carried out using simple tools, such as drill compressors. The human effort involved was very large.”

07:02 – 07:22
“I am 23 years old. I studied Physics – I was in my second year at Tishreen University in Lattakia. I left university and joined the revolution since the outbreak of the early demonstrations.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group

08:58 - 13:01
"We resorted to building underground shelters and caves to protect ourselves from the barbaric air and artillery bombing carried out by the regime. We went to the mountains because the altitudes above the caves are quite high. Caves have at least 20 or 30 meters of altitude above them. This provides more protection for our men and equipment. Hence, we have become able to last longer under air and artillery bombing carried out by the regime, thanks be to God. This gives us more strength, thanks to the thickness of the walls, which we can achieve by digging into hills.
The digging process… we are able to provide health services as well as electricity and water, but we face difficulty in providing these services. The means that we, rebels, have are limited. We do not have digging machinery. We are using simple tools. We do not have good means to provide fortification. We rely on manual labor. Our men are making a big effort.
We are accelerating our work, theerfore it takes about 12-15 days to finish a cave. By the end of this time caves would be ready for our men to use them. About 12-15 days, depending on the area of the cave.
Aircraft bomb field hospitals the moment they are discovered, whether these hospitals are used by fighters or locals civilians. This is done to exert pressure on the rebels' popular support base. We had to build hospitals in protected areas the same way we built headquarters.

"Thanks be to God, medical staff are able to carry out their work under bombing because of these hospitals. They serve the civilians – this is something that we care much about. We are also protecting medical staff because we need them in the current war circumstances.
The number of caves is very large. Civilians as well as rebels have resorted to caves. Caves are everywhere because they protect us. It is difficult to remain in the northern part of Hama province without these caves.
We, as fighters, are able to follow up on our work thanks to God and these caves.
Civilians have to stay inside these caves to be able to live. They are not happy with this, but many people have no other alternative. They cannot leave the area. You saw the weather conditions that we experienced this year. There was a lot of rainfall and it was very cold. People suffered a lot.

Power is provided by generators and water is extracted from wells. The regime has stopped providing services, such as diesel and electricity. It is not only rebels; civilians suffer from this as well. There is no flour or bread. All of this is provided by aid organizations from Turkey because the regime has stopped offering these services two years ago.”

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Education Changes Under Syrian Opposi...
By mohammed alhadi
30 Nov 2014

November 2014
Taqad, Aleppo Province, Syria

Students in the rebel-controlled village of Taqad to the west of Aleppo no longer have to pay tribute to the Syrian regime.
In this village with a population of 11,000, public schools follow books issued by the interim government appointed by the opposition Syrian National Coalition.
The director of one the local schools says that the new curriculum “shifted from glorifying the regime to glorifying the homeland.”
References to Bath party’s ideology or the “achievements” of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and his father the late President Hafez al-Assad were omitted from the new books, which are printed in Turkey and opposition-held areas in Syria.
Schools in this little town, however, have other pressing needs to deal with. Teachers work in overcrowded classrooms and students sometimes ditch school when they hear the sound of warplanes.

Shot list

00:00 – 00:06
A medium shot shows pages from a primary-school book coming out of the printer.

00:07 - 00:20
A medium shot shows a man binding a book.

00:21 – 00:32
Interview with ِAhmad Jumaa, principal of Qaddour al-Sayyid School (Man, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

00:33 – 00:35 A medium shot shows a man binding a book.

00:36 – 00:39
A wide shot shows graffiti that reads: “He who opens a school closes a prison – Al-Urfan Organization [an Islamic social welfare organization].”

00:40 – 00:43
A wide shot shows a young boy carrying a backpack with the UNICEF logo running across the school courtyard.

00:44 – 00:46
A close-up shot shows a school girl writing.

00:47 – 00:59
Interview with Abdel Karim Subhi, a second-grade student (Boy, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

01:00 – 01:03
A close-up shot shows the face of a young student during a mathematics lesson.

01:04 – 01:07
A wide shot shows a teacher explaining a mathematics problem to a student on the blackboard.

01:08 – 01:32
Several shots show books being printed.

01:33 – 01:30
A close-up shot shows the covers of books produced by the Syrian interim government.

01:31 – 01:46
Interview with a primary school teacher (Man, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

01:47 – 01:53
A wide shot shows a second-grade science class in session. The teacher asks: “Who can name an animal that could fly?”

01:54 – 02:02
A medium shot shows a second-grade student answering a grammar question.

02:03 – 02:07
A close-up shot shows the hands of two students writing.

02:08 – 02:20
Interview with Rama Humaida, a seventh-grade student (Girl, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

02:21 – 02:26
A wide shot shows a teacher writing on the blackboard from behind as students follow.

02:27 – 02:44
Interview with Abdullah Jumaa, a local teacher (Man, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

02:45 – 02:49
A close-up shot shows a page of a book issued by the Syrian regime that explains the history of the 1970 Corrective Movement, the coup d’état carried out by the Baath Party.

02:50 – 02:54
A close-up shot shows a page of a book issued by the Syrian regime that explains when President Bashar al-Assad came to power and praises Syria’s policies.

02:55 – 03:01
A close-up shot shows the covers of books produced by the Syrian interim government.

03:02 – 03:10
A wide shot shows a demolished school wall.


00:21 – 00:32
Interview with Ahmad Jumaa, principal of Qaddour al-Sayyid School (Man. Arabic)

“I am the principal of Qaddour al-Sayyid School. The provisional Syrian government gave us schoolbooks. Some books were missing, though, and we had to print them locally.

00:47 – 00:59
Interview with Abdel Karim Subhi, a second-grade student (Boy, Arabic)

“I am eight years old. Whenever airplanes are flying, my siblings and I do not come. We wait for them to end their raids so we come to school.”

01:31 – 01:46
Interview with a primary school teacher (Man, Arabic)

“Despite the hard conditions we are living in and continuous airstrikes, we started the new academic year.”

02:08 – 02:20
Interview with Rama Humaida, a seventh-grade student (Girl, Arabic)

“My siblings and I come from a middle-class family, and we come to school every day to learn. My favorite subject is religion, and I wish to be a religion instructor in the future.”

02:27 – 02:44
Interview with Abdullah Jumaa, a local teacher (Man, Arabic)

“Books were amended to suit the current situation. All the content that glorifies [President] Bashar al-Assad and his were removed. The new books shifted from the glorification of the regime to the glorification of the entire homeland. Certain passages were omitted and other ones that suit the current phase were kept.

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Rebel Tunnel - Wadi al-Deif, Syria
Wadi al-Deif, Syria
By TTM Contributor 10
16 May 2014

May 16, 2014

Wadi al-Deif, Idlib, Syria

Syrian Opposition fighters say this is the tunnel they used to carry out the explosion on May 14, 2014 at the checkpoint at Tal al-Sawadi in Wadi al-Deif Camp, one of the most important Syrian Army camps in Idlib Province.
The Islamic Front and the al-Furqan Brigade say they were able to dig a tunnel 750-meters long, with a height of two meters and the width of one and a quarter meters. It took them over seventy days and it was packed with over 56 tons of explosives. The rebels say they killed dozens of Assad regime soldiers and destroy many pieces of artillery, a tank, and a BMP tank. Fighting continues with the rebels using many kinds of heavy artillery such as mortars, cannons and others in their effort to freeing the rest of the area.
This operation is considered the second in Idlib and in this camp specifically.
Colonel Riad, or Mohammad: a leader in the Islamic front speaks of the idea of digging the tunnel and how to do that
Mohamad al Sayed: a fighter who dug the tunnel, speaks of the regime’s loses and the qualities of the tunnel
Hassan al-Dghaim: a witness from the area of Maarat al-Noaman, talks about the length of the tunnel and the suffering the rebels faced while digging it
Khaled Abu al-Fajr: a fighter in al-Furqan brigade speaks of the suffering during digging the tunnel and the tools used.
Shot list:
Various shots show the gate of the tunnel
Various shots show the interior of the tunnel
Various shots show the lighting holes built into the walls of the tunnel
Various shots show the barriers surrounding the barrier of Tal al-Sawadi such as the barriers of al-Samad and the camp of Wadi al-Daif
Various shots show the regime firing over Maarat al-Noaman while heavy smoke is coming out
Various shots show the barrier of Tal al-Sawadi.

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Huge Explosion at The Government Mili...
Wadi al-Deif, Syria
By TTM Contributor 9
14 May 2014

Shot on May 14, 2014, in Idleb, Syria

Video shows a huge explosion at a major government military base in Wadi al-Deif, rural Idleb. The explosives were planted underneath the base from a tunnel dug by rebels.

Throughout 7 months, al-Furqan Brigade with the cooperation of Fajr al-Islam Brigade, dug a 750 meter long tunnel, with a height of two meters and the width of one and a quarter meter.
The tunnel was packed with over 56 tons of explosives.

The video contains an interview with Hassan Nasser, the leader of al-Furqan Brigade, shot on the night of May 14. Nasser was one of the major coordinators of the attack. In the interview he explains in detail how the tunnel was dug and how the attack was coordinated.

"Half an hour ago, we were able to finish an operation that we started working on about eight months ago, we were intending to blow up the command center in “Wadi al-Deif” in addition to the biggest gathering point witch is known as “Tallat al-Sawadi”. The significance of this location is the command center of course and the fact that “Tallat Al Sawadi” is a ruling area, and it’s causing harm to the civilians and the rebels, it also has artillery and tanks.
The work began seven and a half months ago, we were sitting and after considering the multiple failed attempts to break into the camp, we decided this to be the ultimate solution.
The work was fully manual; we faced many difficulties, moving the remaining of the digging, and the Syrian army had discovered the location of the tunnel twice, the first time we were obliged to change the path and the second time, the Syrian army planted mines that we disabled and abducted, we also had to change the path one more time.
The planning of the tunnel was for it to branch from under Tal al-Sawadi and reach the barrier of al-Samad and the barrier of al-Zaalani.
The last blow up done by our brothers in al-Sahaba barrier faced some strange movements which eventually ended up to be in our favor; as the regime sent more back up to the area, which helped us to destroy more of their artillery, other thank the shilka tank that was already there.
The material that we used is mostly local, manure, TNT, barrel bombs were dropped by the regime before we took them apart and reused them, non-explosive bombs.
The accurate measurements of the tunnel are 750 meters long; the branches can reach to 150 meters long, the time of work in seven months and twenty days to be exact. The width of the tunnel is 120-130 cm and the height varies from 2-2.20 meters, it was very hard to dig because we faced a rocky ground especially towards the end.
The amount of the explosives among manure, TNT, mortars, and the non-explosive bombs weighed about 55-60 tons.
Throughout the work, two men died with a mortar that was aimed towards the location of the construction, many were injured and many got sick because of the humidity in the tunnel.
This operation, as al-furqan Brigade, with the cooperation of Fajr al-Islam brigade and Suqor al-Sham, we dedicate this victory to our brothers who have been let down by many, our brothers in Homs, we are trying to help them in everyway possible and we promise them that victory is near"

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Christian fear of Islamism
Damascus, Syria
By lukas.goga
23 Sep 2013

Article is about Syrian Christians who fear of their future in Syria if Islamism won.

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Female Fighters of Aleppo
Aleppo, Syria
By horizon news agency
01 Jul 2013

In the Salahaldin neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, young women have joined the first female fighting unit, "Al Mouminin Aisha," to defend their homes and community from attacks by the Syrian regime and their allies. They function under the Al-Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo.

The head of the unit, Um Mohammed, is a mother of four children and the wife of a Free Syrian Army soldier also fighting in Salahaldin neighborhood. She decided to take protection into her own hands and pick up a rifle in hopes of defending her neighborhood from regime attacks and crimes against women such as rape that have been on a rise since fighting began. Um Mohammed has set strict criteria for accepting new members in the female unit, in which any new member should be a female Muslim rebel from Aleppo who fulfills her prayers and all other religious duties and has good reputation. There are currently thirteen members in the unit, ranging in age from 17 to 24.

Um Mohammed says that she is working with the rest of the fighters of the brigade in order to establish an Islamic caliphate state. The trainer, Abu Deeb, explains that the “La Ilaha illa allah” headband on the each female's foreheads is a symbol of the fighters deep faith in their religion, Islam.

They not only are facing challenges on the front lines and among other opposition fights. It's widely-known that other Islamist brigades are not unsupportive of female fighters joining the battle.

For Related Video:

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Syrians Protest the National Coalitio...
Istanbul, Turkey
By mittome
28 May 2013

Protest in front of the Hotel where the National Coalition Council members hold their conference, and interviews with the protesters.

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London (7 of 10)
London, United Kingdom
By George Henton
16 Mar 2013

A man wearing a mask and handcuffs gestures during a march of Syrian opposition supporters in London, United Kingdom, 16 March 2013. The march was held in solidarity with those opposition forces and supporters currently fighting the incumbent regime in Syria. GEORGE HENTON.

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Abdul Aziz al-Khayyer
Damascus, Syria
By lukas.goga
09 Oct 2011

Abdul Aziz al-Khayyer, a former Syrian dissendent and member of executive board of National Coordination Committee, during press conference of National Coordination Committee in Damascus, 8.10.2011. He was arrested after his arrive from China in September 2012.

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Abdul Aziz al-Khayyer
Damascus, Syria
By lukas.goga
08 Oct 2011

Abdul Aziz al-Khayyer, a former Syrian dissendent and member of executive board of National Coordination Committee, during press conference of National Coordination Committee in Damascus, 8.10.2011. He was arrested after his arrive from China in September 2012.