The guerrilla groups are caging innocent people to protect themselves from Russian airstrikes.[dropcap color=”black”]H[/dropcap]undreds of cages with seven or eight people in each roam Ghouta, a city near Damascus. The intention with the practice of caging people is to stop the bombing of the Russian and Syrian aviation. So-called rebels, captured soldiers and Alawite families -children included- to use them as human shields after the last airstrikes launched by the Russian air force.
According to Doctors Without Borders, on 30 October at least 70 people died and 550 were injured at a market in Douma, East Ghouta’s largest town. These people had been captured by the rebels and put into cages to be used as human shields.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) attributes this brutal practice to the Jaysh al-Islam group, the largest in Ghouta. Islam and Jaish al Ahrar al-Sham, incidentally, congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his recent election victory, According to the observatory, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar support these rebel groups.
The OSDH notes that local militias fighting alongside the Syrian regular army did the same a few weeks ago: they put ISIS prisoners in cages and placed on roofs at two locations in the province of Idlib, Al Fuah and Kefraya, to prevent attacks by rebel groups.
Ghouta is a particularly dramatic case in the history of the Syrian war. On 16 August at least 112 people were killed in air strikes on residential areas and markets.
In addition, the August 21, 2013 sarin gas was used to attack and kill a number innocent people which first was blamed on the Assad government, but that later was found to have been done by the rebels groups that are now using innocent men, women and children as human shields. The “red lines” set by Barack Obama against the use of chemical weapons were forgotten since the US was the Godfather of the militias that later became ISIS in Syria.
Just today, the head of the research team of the UN on the use of chemical weapons in the provinces of Idlib and Hama, Virginia Gamba, showed her pessimistic view about the situation in those cities: “Do I have the name, last name and the age of the authors? I have no idea,” she said.
It is particularly tragic that armed groups now resort to using human shields in the same place where last February local activists photographed children living in cages in the style of the Islamic State.
Four months after the chemical attack on Ghouta in December, Jaysh al-Islam and the Nusra Front -the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda- imprisoned hundreds of civilians, mostly Alawites, as stated by the UN. These would be the same people who are now used as human shields.
In a text accompanying the video released by Shaams News Network, though not attributed directly to any concrete group, it was said that there were at least 100 cages but that they expect to have up to 1000 for distribution through eastern Ghouta and in particular “markets and public places of Douma that have been attacked by the air forces of the Assad government and the Russians”.