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Photo and Video Diary from Eastern Ghouta, Syria – by Vanessa Beeley

Driving towards Wafedin camp in Eastern Ghouta that has been receiving civilian evacuees from Eastern Ghouta. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

Truth always reveals itself. We have seen it in Homs, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Madaya – in all areas of Syria where civilians are liberated from the US Coalition proxy army of terrorist groups. Now it is the turn of Eastern Ghouta to expose the Western corporate media campaign for the sensationalist propaganda it has been for the last seven years of this senseless conflict, externally imposed upon the sovereign nation of Syria and its people.

UN Press Briefing in the Four Seasons Hotel 28th March 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The UN held a press briefing yesterday in Damascus. We arrived late but in time to hear UN figures of 75,000 civilians who have escaped Eastern Ghouta for the safety of the Syrian government centres set up to receive these traumatised civilians as they flee the terrorist occupation of their towns and villages via the Syrian/Russian established and negotiated humanitarian corridors.

According to a UN official, 25,000 of those civilians have been reunited with their families by the Syrian government, the remaining 50,000 are in the IDP centres and are being taken care of by Syrian civil society organisations.

These UN figures are lower than the Syrian Government and Russian negotiator numbers but it is not unusual for the UN to be out of alignment in this respect. Syrian Arab News Agency recently reported numbers closer to 135,000.  However these UN figures still expose western media reporting of much lower numbers as deeply flawed at best, deliberately misleading at worst.

Assaf Abood from BBC Arabic told me that the UN is not doing enough to assist at these IDP centres and he raised this question during the meeting. He also informed me that there are an estimated 130,000 civilians still in Jaish Al Islam controlled Douma.

Negotiations are ongoing between Russia, the Syrian Government and Jaish Al Islam (a Saudi financed terrorist faction) to decide upon their ultimate evacuation destination, among other important conditions for their surrender  and the final release of all civilians under their control.

It is worth mentioning that Jaish Al Islam have the reputation of being the most brutal & extremist of the terrorist occupiers in Eastern Ghouta. The notorious “repentance prison” is located here:

“These terrorists are taking the civilians as hostages, they have a jail in Douma (Eastern Ghouta’s main city) called the Jail of Toubah, do you know what Toubah means in Arabic? It’s ‘Repentance’, you don’t leave this jail until you repent. They have thousands of innocent people taken prisoners, civilians, and put in this jail in Douma. And from time to time they take women and children, put them in cages and drive them into the streets” ~ Syria News

Wafedin Camp

Yesterday I went to Wafedin Camp located at the end of the main humanitarian corridor that has allowed civilians to leave the occupied Eastern Ghouta under the protection of the Syrian Arab Army. These corridors have been regularly shelled and civilians sniped in an effort by the terrorist factions to prevent their exodus.

The loss of human shields and propaganda assets is a hard blow to these NATO-member-state sanctioned terrorist factions. There is also the fear of what will be said by these civilians once they reach safety and are able to express themselves freely without threat of imprisonment or worse. We saw this in East Aleppo.

Syrian media was present as the civilians arrived. No western media that I was aware of. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Curiously corporate media seems to have gone silent again as the civilians stream out of the areas they have nominated “democratic rebel” held areas for the last seven years.

SAA soldiers carried bags and belongings, some carried children. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I was greeted by the SAA General in charge of the evacuation operations in Wafedin. Courteous, cheerful and efficient he directed us (myself and my translator) to the end of the corridor where the civilians would enter the IDP camp area. SAA soldiers were in position to react if the terrorist factions fired on the civilians. As always in these situations, there was no tension, just calm efficiency and care for the civilians. The soldiers were alert, prepared, but conscious of the needs of the traumatised and exhausted civilians who dazedly walked towards safety.

The following video was taken just as civilians poured over the ‘finishing’ line. Watch:

The first lady we spoke to was clearly exhausted “my heart is beating so fast” she told us. Her eyes were startlingly blue and she seemed eager to move on but she told us she was “comfortable” now that she had finally arrived. One young boy told us that being here was so much better than being inside Ghouta. Two young women described conditions in Douma as tragic but expressed their hope that the situation would be resolved quickly so they could return.

Many of the men among the civilians had been injured and were on crutches or struggling to walk. Many times we saw the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and REAL Syria Civil Defence step in to carry those who were unable to walk the last few steps to freedom.

We spoke to one of the REAL Syria Civil Defence crew members. With familiar humility he told us that it is the SARC who are inside Eastern Ghouta assisting the evacuation. The RSCD role is to treat the civilians medically when they arrive or to transport them to a hospital for more intensive care. Watch:

The civilians were escorted to the IDP centre in Wafedin. Once inside the compound most of them sat on the ground, visibly drained and relieved to be able to rest. Children seemed withdrawn  and many showed clear symptoms of malnutrition and stress.

A child who had just entered the Wafedin compound. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Children who slumped against the wall of the compound, exhausted. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Many children showed signs of hair loss & malnutrition. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Bags and belongings were checked over by the SAA before the civilians were able to register at the centre. Many will be reunited with their own families in Damascus. We interviewed a few people. All described the conditions in Douma as unbearable. We heard reports of terrorist factions hoarding humanitarian relief  and food supplies, selling at extortionate rates to civilians. Ikg of rice was over $ 10, 1 kg of sugar $36. The oppression of disssenting views, the deprivation of essential elements of daily life…water, electricity. The following interview was with a man who had just arrived, with his family, from Douma. Watch: 

When asked how he felt to have arrived in Wafedin, this man beamed with joy ” I feel reborn again”. What an appropriate statement to make as we approach Easter weekend in Damascus.

The following are photos from this evacuation which convey the sense of quiet relief and liberation that cannot be falsified. There was a dearth of western media during this evacuation, perhaps facing the truth ,yet again, of the misery their lies have inflicted upon the Syrian people is too much for them to deal with but they should be held accountable.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files




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