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12 September 2016updated 09 Sep 2021 9:05am

The Assad regime’s bloody game of cat and mouse

As the media focuses on one humanitarian tragedy, the regime inflicts another. 

By Mairead Dixon

You probably haven’t heard of Moadamieh, but you might have heard of Daraya, where Syrian rebels recently surrendered to the Assad regime after years of siege, and you’ve probably heard of Aleppo.

And as far as the Assad regime is concerned, that’s precisely the point.

Opposition activists say that while the rest of the world is becoming outraged about human rights in one part of Syria, the Assad regime takes it as a cue to attack another group of rebels.

A spokeswoman for Humans of Syria, a media network of reporters under siege, who calls herself Marvin Gate, said Moadamieh could be at risk “in a matter of hours”.

She said: “The regime plans everything very well. Everyone focuses on one city, and Bashar al-Assad is free to do something really bad to another one.”

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“When everyone was talking about the evacuation of Daraya, the regime bombarded Al Waer Street in the city of Homs with napalm. Children were burned to death, and doctors had to treat wounds with mud as a result of the lack of medical materials there.”

In mid-August, the shocking image of a little boy injured during airstrikes on Aleppo was shared around the world. But at the same time, the regime escalated its attack on the Damascus suburb of Daraya, bombing its last remaining hospital. In late August, rebels surrendered the territory. Days later, the regime bombed the Al Waer neighbourhood. 

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The Assad regime may be a global outcast, but it remains astute at manipulating media coverage. In the early days of the revolution, a group of hackers calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army targeted news websites.

More recently, the Assad regime has tapped into Western fears about ISIS, using a blanket characterisation of rebels as terrorists. Assad himself has taken part in media stunts, most recently performing Eid prayers in the now-empty suburb of Daraya.

Now, as the regime makes a grab for the rebellious suburbs of Damascus, Gate fears for the safety of local journalists. She warned: “The regime has always worked to silence journalists and news reporters.

“The United States, and UK must do something to protect the civilians.”