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This boy says he watched his siblings, grandfather and parents die from Wednesday's attack.
This boy says he watched his siblings, grandfather and parents die from Wednesday's attack.
Nuha Shabaan

DAMASCUS - A boy, who appears to be sitting in some sort of makeshift hospital, describes how his entire family was killed early Wednesday morning on an attack in their home in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

Below the video expand=1] (courtesy of c.m.o algota) is a transcript of the child’s account:

“First thing, my grandfather lives upstairs, and we were asleep. The aircraft hit us and the voices were very loud. We woke up all of us, my brother went upstairs to tell my grandpa to come downstairs to escape from the gunpowder and the shrapnel.

They came down and as my brother was coming down he smelled the gunpowder and started to feel pain in his stomach, he started to throw up and was about to die, he started to have difficulty in breathing and died. They smelled the gunpowder smell and laid down on the ground. My grandpa was sitting in front of us and suddenly he laid down and his head hit the ground and he died, his wife was near him and she rolled on the ground also and died, my siblings also died, I was sitting on the sofa away from them, I stayed there.

Q: What did you do? I do not know, I do not know what brought me here.

Q: You could not do anything? I do not know

Q: Didn’t you scream? I started crying, crying and crying, what brought me here

Q: And you fainted and fell on the ground? NO, I DID NOT, I did not,

Q: And now, where is your mom and dad? They are dead.”

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Meanwhile, there is also direct testimony from Um Qamar, 53, a housewife from the conservative eastern suburb of Hammouriya, one of the towns reportedly attacked by chemical weapons in an overnight regime assault on Wednesday.

“Before the revolution, we lived together – me, my husband and our two daughters,” says Um Qamar. “We had a good, simple life.”

Today, she lives in a blockaded village with her daughters staying at a relative’s house in Damascus. They communicate by phone but cannot see each other. Um Qamar describes the chaotic scene in her town to Nuha Shabaan in the hours following the attack.

Q: Describe what happened to you early Wednesday morning.

Around 3am there was violent bombardment around the neighborhood. We did not know where it was exactly. I said to myself that it might be the rebels fighting the security forces. I tried to sleep again, then after awhile woke up to people screaming. We started to breathe in something strange in the air coming from the orchards.

People started to put pieces of fabric on their noses and mouths, because they got news that it was a chemical gas attack. In the beginning, the smell was a bit lighter and the young men started to call women and children to go down to the basements and shelters and they closed all the open windows and escape holes.

I ran with my husband and other people from the town. They put us in a shelter and closed the doors, windows, and all holes not to make the gas reach us. The smell started to become stronger.

Most people with respiratory diseases died. The scene of crying and choking were horrifying. We stayed in the shelter around 24 hours with no water and food. After that the men brought us some food and water. Some of those who did not die from the smell died because of the low oxygen in the shelter.

After we get out of the shelter, we saw things that you can't imagine. We heard about more than 3,000 casualties only in Hammouriya, most of whom were women and children. The death toll increased gradually. I went with my husband to the medical center. My husband felt so tired because of the huge amount of people. He started to breathe heavily and there was shortage in all types of medicine. Today we have a curfew.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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