Two armed fighters present at the protest.
Violence has reached new heights in Damascus since the bomb attack that reportedly killed Syria’s minister and vice minister of defence. Fighting between soldiers and rebels is now spreading through several different neighbourhoods of the capital. A video filmed in the neighbourhood of Rukn al-Din, in the city’s north, shows how a small protest gradually turned into a full-on street battle.
These images were live-streamed on the Internet Wednesday afternoon. The video is titled “Protest after the funeral of a martyr in Rukn al-Din.” The person behind the camera films as he walks through the neighbourhood and then arrives at a small plaza where a protest is taking place.
The demonstration starts out peacefully, with protesters chanting slogans praising Syria and freedom, jumping around, and clapping their hands. At 5’10, a sign mentions the name of the “martyr” that has just been buried: his name was Youssef Zaza.
Gradually (starting at 11’45), masked men arrive on the scene.
Suddenly, at 23’35, the singing stops and the protesters start to retreat. They’re apparently coming under attack. Some of them start to throw things, and yell “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”). Starting at 25’21, the masked men are once again on-screen, but this time, they’re armed. They’re on the side of the protesters, meaning they likely belong to the Free Syrian Army. They stay at the frontline and ask the protesters to move back.
A few moments later, starting at 26’55, shots ring out. The armed men reciprocate, while the young men around them continue to throw rocks toward the pro-regime forces, which are off-screen. At this point, the cameraman decides to retreat, his camera still rolling.
This lengthy video, which was broadcast live, offers a rare look at how protests in Damascus can escalate rapidly. Most videos published online give only brief glimpses into the fighting taking place in Syria.