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Turkey

Survivors Of Syria's Torture Chambers Describe Horror

One tortured by the regime, another by Islamist rebels, both offer evidence of the worst kind of brutality that reigns in Syria today.

Statues in a Syrian museum showing torture methods of detainees
Statues in a Syrian museum showing torture methods of detainees
Alfred Hackensberger

GAZIANTEP — Mohammed Jabri spent 67 days in the infamous prison run by Syria’s political secret service in the Mezzeh section of Damascus. “The victims in the photographs went to heaven as martyrs," the 25-year-old says. "But there are thousands more in such living hells."

Jabri was able to survive the inhuman conditions and weeks of torture only by sheer luck. The photographs he refers to are the horrifying pictures that have caused world outrage since coming to light last month. They show blood-spattered corpses bearing deep red welts on the upper torso and strangulation marks on the neck. Altogether there are 55,000 pictures of 11,000 victims that the Syrian regime allegedly has on its conscience.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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