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Return to Homs Shows the Journey from Peaceful Revolution to Armed Struggle

Director Talal Derki discusses his new documentary on the Syrian war, and its unique impact on one particular city.

The film's protagonist, Abdul Basset Saroot.

Talal Derki’s Return to Homs, a documentary about a soccer player-turned-protester-turned-revolutionary fighter in Syria, captures on film the tragedy of one of the most devestating human events of our generation. The Syrian revolution, which began on the hopes and dreams of peaceful protesters in 2011, has in the years since become a terrifying and relentless war that has not only taken countless lives but also demolished entired cities in the Levantine country. Return to Homs’ young protagonist, Abdul Basset Saroot, represents one of millions of young men and women who first burst out onto the street in unarmed demonstrations, calling for an end to the dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad, but were then forced to take up arms when the regime responded with bullets and bombs.

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Syrian Seeds Stored in Norway for Safekeeping

A team of scientists in Aleppo won an award for their efforts to preserve plant diversity.

Image via ICARDA.

Syrian scientists are being rewarded for preserving life of another kind. In Norway, they’ve amassed a seedbank of 150,000 seeds in an effort to protect the vast, rich diversity of Syrian agriculture and horticulture. Last week, the guardians of the ICARDA genebank, which stores its seed collection at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian islands, were awarded with the Gregor Mendel Award for their extensive work.

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Lustful Rebels Get Catfished in Syria

Hackers posing as attractive women steal sensitive info from rebels that could greatly benefit pro-Assad forces.

Recently, opposition fighters in Syria looking for love on the internet got more than they bargained for when it was revealed that they were actually chatting with the enemy. In a report released Monday from security research firm FireEye, the result of a years-long investigation, it was confirmed that members of a group, perhaps sympathetic to President Bashar al-Assad, posing as young, attractive females, were able to utilize a catfishing scheme to collect over 7.7 gigabytes worth of stolen data from 12,356 contacts in at least eight countries. These hackers, using avatars and fake photos, made contact with rebels via Skype and Facebook requesting a photo swap. Once downloaded, these malware-laden photos were able to absorb a plethora of sensitive information including strategic contacts, battle plans, movement information, even the IDs of refugees who’d fled to Turkey—often housed on basic phones and laptops. While the FireEye report stopped short of making a direct link between pro-Assad forces and the hackers, the information the group recovered would certainly have benefitted Assad’s army.

Image via FireEye

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When a Haircut Turns into a Priceless Piece of Community

In this short doc, Syrian refugee camp barbers are attempting to make a living in an unlivable situation.

“Haircuts are a fundamental part of life,” says Samer Al-Sees. He’s the subject of Growing Home, a short documentary about barbershops in Al Zaatari, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Located in Jordan, near the border of Syria, the camp currently houses more than 80,000 refugees.

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