Syrian children dressed up as Isis hostages in death cage for anti-Assad protest
Anti-government activists in Syria have dressed young children up as Isis hostages and put them in a cage next to a flaming torch in a protest mimicking the death of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh.
The children, wearing orange jumpsuits like those frequently seen in the group’s execution videos, were holding banners with slogans condemning President Bashar al-Assad.
One complained of the international attention given to Isis. It said in Arabic: “We saw your media about the burning Jordanian pilot but we didn't see it when Douma children were burnt.”
The children were photographed on Sunday inside a large cage similar to that used by Isis to imprison Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh when he was burned alive.
It was placed amid destroyed buildings reduced to rubble by what activists say were deadly regime air strikes on Douma, a city north-east of Damascus.
The protest aimed to compare forces loyal to President Assad to Isis and to draw attention to residents living under siege and bombardment, Reuters reported.
UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 183 people were killed by bombing in the first 10 days of February in Douma and other areas east of Damascus.
The green belt of Ghouta around the capital and markets in Douma were targeted, it said, with banned barrel bombs being used in some areas.
President Assad denied using the weapons, prohibited by the UN because of their huge and indiscriminate destruction, in a rare interview with the BBC last week.
Douma has been heavily shelled and targeted by air strikes during Syria’s continuing civil war but state media has said all offensives there were against “terrorists”.
A woman and her four children were reportedly among the casualties of a regime strike on 11 February and 15 more civilians were killed two days before.
Douma was initially controlled by opposition group the Free Syrian Army but is now reportedly run by Jaish al-Islam, or the Army of Islam, a rebel group part of the Islamic Front coalition.
The Islamist militia has also been accused of atrocities, including kidnapping human rights monitors, killing civilians in its bombardment of Damascus and involvement in the 2013 Adra massacre of religious minorities including Alawites, Christians and Druze.
It is not believed to be allied with either Isis, the opposition Syrian National Coalition or Free Syrian Army.
The rebels have vowed to retaliate against regime air strikes with increased rocket attacks against government-held areas.