This week our eyes are on Syria, as citizen videos shot on August 21 from the Damascus region are being utilized by governments, diplomats, and news outlets in a debate about the war in Syria and use of chemical weapons.
The Human Rights Channel has been curating videos of the Syrian War since our launch in May of 2012, and so we want to point you to a few links for further analysis and background of the of videos of the August 21 chemical weapons attack that are currently under the international spotlight.
The compilation of 13 videos from the attack authenticated by the CIA and released this weekend to the public includes several videos from the Shaam News Network, which aggregates verified videos from citizen media outlets across the country. Our partners at Storyful have traced those videos back to the original uploads, and compiled them in this YouTube playlist:
While the August 21 attack was the largest alleged chemical attack documented thus far in Syria, citizen filmers allege that chemical weapons have been in use since late 2012, and have filmed the aftermath of such attacks. The playlist embedded below curates videos of alleged attacks in Ghouta, Aleppo, and Homs from December of 2012 to April of 2013, and this playlist includes videos of victims of an alleged attack in Douma early last month.
Aside from alleged chemical weapon use, this January the Human Rights Channel curated citizen videos that appear to document war crimes by both sides of the conflict. See the playlist here. Additionally, you can find verified citizen videos of the Syrian conflict on the Human Rights Channel’s monthly Watching Syria playlists and other in-depth playlists of the conflict.
With greater attention on Syrian citizen videos, and their current role in an international policy debate, the process of verification is as critical as ever. This is a topic we have covered on the WITNESS blog quite a bit, such as in this writeup on the challenges of monitoring a war through citizen and soldier video, and in this Q&A with Storyful’s Della Kilroy about techniques all reporters can use to attempt to establish the authenticity of citizen videos.
Catch the latest citizen videos by following the Human Rights Channel on Twitter (@ythumanrights). If you’re a journalist and would like to be added to our weekly reporters email, send a request to madeleine [at] witness [dot] org.