February 13th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

One activist's chronicle of daily hell in Syria

As fresh attacks continue in the besieged city of Homs, Syrian activist "Danny," whose name we are protecting, has escaped the slaughter there and has re-emerged in Lebanon.

Before he left Homs, Danny shared his stories with CNN and posted a number of videos on YouTube purporting to show the violence there. Although CNN cannot verify these videos independently, they appear to show a desperate situation.

Danny’s family was waiting in Cairo last week, desperate for news of his fate.

Watching a video of the carnage, Danny's mother, Helen Abdul Dayem, said, “How can the world not listen to the cries of these mothers? I can’t watch this.”

Activists claim that President Bashar al-Assad's government has been unrelenting in its violence, something the government denies. Danny’s family has become almost a PR agency for the uprising, helping to get journalists into Syria and information out.

Danny’s parents and younger siblings all waited by the phone to hear what had happened to the 23-year-old who put himself in harm's way to chronicle the atrocities in a besieged city. For Akram Abdul Dayem, Danny’s father, the suspense was too much. He rocked back and forth on the couch.

“Just get through this day. Calm down,” his wife told him. But his nerves were too frayed. “I’m taking a machine gun and I’m going to get him. I am. I’ve had enough,” he said.

Soon, a message online confirmed that their son was still alive. Then the telephone rang: Danny was safe and in Lebanon. Connected to Danny on the phone, his father began to sob. Then the connection went dead. Soon, Danny called again.

“Danny, are you all right? It’s good to hear your voice. We’re so worried about you, Danny,” his mother said. She relayed his message to the family: “He says he doesn’t care. They said he was dead four times already,” she said amid nervous laughter. “Well, we care.”

The following is an edited ongoing account of what Danny was seeing, hearing and thinking as the situation in Syria grew more desperate each day.

February 9

As the shelling of Homs continues, Danny witnesses even more horror. This time, it is quite close to home, literally. The building he is in was hit, he says. People moved quickly to try to gather bodies and bury them.

“There's not one safe place in this area. The army is surrounding us, surrounding us in big numbers. Lots of tanks, lots of foot men, lots of troops, anti-air tanks,  tanks, they are hitting us with rockets nonstop from 4 a.m. The same building I'm in, they hit it with a rocket.

Three women they killed, they were pieces. That was 7 a.m., we had to take them - put them inside and take them, bury them.

We don't know how many casualties we have got. I am sure there's 93 people dead. We have their names, but there's more than another 100 underneath the destruction of the buildings.

They have helicopters over this area, hitting us with helicopters, and they are using human shields in their checkpoints so the free armies can't hit the checkpoints. We don't have any medication. We have only one field hospital left. We have only about six doctors now. And that's not enough.”

Because of the constant attacks, Danny says, he and others are at risk if they try to escape what is becoming a daily war zone. They are faced with a choice: hope their building isn’t hit, or try to escape and possibly be hit while fleeing. And that terror is shaking them as they fear that al-Assad’s army is closing in on where Danny is.

“Look, anyone who walks the street is in a risk he might get hit by a rocket or tank shell. Anyone who goes out in the street will be hit by a sniper and rocket. Even if you sit in your house, you're not safe. You might get hit by a tank shell or by a rocket.

The Syrian army is surrounding this area. The free army cannot fight that hard. The Syrian army is getting really close.

We expect the Syrian army will be in the area and arrest lots of people. It will kill people here. We have no idea what to do. We cannot leave this area. No one can come in. No one can go out. They've shot all the ways.”

 The attack on his building has left it in shambles, Danny says.

“More than - more than 10 rockets, 15 rockets and tank shells landed on in the street I live in. This street is only about 50 meters long. The building, my building, was hit by tank shells by rockets.

Underneath my building were three women were killed. We found them in pieces about 7 a.m. Four guys in the same house as me were injured. The situation is really bad.

 The women died. Children died. We have more than 30 children dead from four days ago. We have loads of children injured. My friends are in a hospital. I hope they'll be OK. Lots of them have been hit by fighters yesterday. (Some were hit) today just because of trying to cross the street.

Snipers hit women, children, men, kids, doesn't matter. The Syrian army - I'm not going to call it the Syrian army, they have no humanity in them, they kill anything in front of them. They are hitting civilian houses.”

 As the situation grows even more desperate around him, Danny’s cries for help also become more serious. He begs for a real solution, not just simply people keeping watch of the situation.

“We don't want the monitors anymore. They sent the monitors last time, and we did not get anything out of it. We wanted the U.N. to take this case. We wanted the U.N. to interfere in this.

 If we get the airplanes here, bombard the regime. We want someone to do something about this. We're going to get killed. I'm sure I'll get killed tomorrow if the army gets in here. No one's doing anything about this. We don't want the monitors or the Arab League. They are going to do nothing about this. We want the U.N. to interfere, the U.N. to do something.”

 The shelling, the attacks, the sniper fire haven’t just put fear into Syrians on the ground. It’s also crippled them in many other ways. There is no “normal life” anymore.

 “There's no water. There's no water. They hit all the main water tanks. We have some bread. The bread is hard. We have some - what do you call it, lunch meat, some boxed lunch meat. That's it. We don't have that much food here.

If it stays like this for another two days, our food resource is finished, medication is finished. (If) the army gets in here tomorrow, (it) is over.

No one house has been hit here. All of the houses have been hit here. Not one house has survived the attack.”

February 8

Danny holds another set of rocket shells in his hands. They're all over the place. It has become as common as any other object to be found on the street. The shell is what remains after a bombardment and an onslaught that leaves buildings shattered and families in tatters.

Blood stains the streets red.

And in Danny's eyes nobody is safe. At any minute, at any given time, families fear they could be next.

"Homs is terrible. They're doing a massacre. They're getting the Syrian army; they're surrounding this whole area.

They're surrounding the whole area with army troops and tanks and anti-aircraft. They've been bombarding us from 5 a.m. with all kinds of rockets."

The sights, the sounds, they're all becoming too common, Danny says. Things nobody should see are now a daily part of your routine should you choose to go outside. It's so bad, he says, that he'd even support U.S. military intervention if it meant the horrific acts could stop.

"Women and children have got used to seeing bodies in the street and blood in the street and body parts. We are asking for help.

We are asking the U.N. to please do something about this. We don't care if American forces occupy us. It doesn't matter.

We want any source to come in here and help us."

His cries for help grow louder each day as the violence becomes harder to handle. He talks about a mortar that he says landed on a house and killed a young child.

"His brain came out of his back of his head. This is how they're living.

Eight-year-old and 9-year-old children have to run to get out of the streets. Why do children have to live like this?"

And the streets aren't a better option, Danny notes. It's just as dangerous to even peer outside. He believes government forces are "targeting human beings" at every corner.

"There's snipers. There are snipers all around this area on the long buildings. You could hear them. Anyone who crosses the street could get shot.

I'm going to leave the house in half an hour. We're making our own way between buildings so snipers can't shoot us. This is the way we're trying to live. I'm a human being trying to live, and this is how I'm living.

I have been in this revolution from the beginning. This is a feeling you can never express. My friends, 10 of them died right in front of me because I couldn't take them to the hospital, because I couldn't move them from the streets. We're going to keep on to the end."

February 7

The crisis for Danny and others has become even more personal. Now, even their homes aren't safe, he says.

"What the army is doing is going into civilian houses even if the civilian is still living there. They take the houses, and they break wall by wall so they can move from building to building.

They don't move in the street because the free army is protecting these areas. What the Syrian army is doing are going in buildings, breaking wall-to-wall to go from building to building."

And places that they might go to seek help are being hit too, Danny says.

"They're hitting us with anti-aircraft tanks. Four have been shooting at buildings. Tanks, with shells, the army's been shooting with mortar bombs and rockets like yesterday as well.

(We have) only one hospital. No one can leave. No one go in.

As usual, no doctors can leave. No doctors can come in. They shot at Red Cross ambulance today."

Adding to the trouble of what's happening Syria is the lack of access to a private hospital that used to help perform surgeries and treat the wounded, Danny says. It is off-limits for residents like him and his friends who have been injured.

"The army took it, and it's become their barracks. They're sitting there. The army is posted in that hospital. Before they went to that hospital, they hit the operation room while doctors are doing operations. They kicked the doctors out of the hospital and all of the nurses out of the hospital and left all of the people in there.

Now the Syrian, Assad army are living in that hospital. If we want to take bodies to any government hospital ... you come out with injury in the head or leg, you have injury in head or you're taken by security forces and tortured to death, or they let you bleed to death."

Those descriptions are horrifying to think about. But something that haunts residents in Homs and other cities even more is what the real true toll may be when this all ends.

"Well, what has happened in Homs, we have for the last six months is massacre.

People are saying 6,000 dead, 7,000 dead. Our promise is more than 40,000 people dead.

Everyone who's missing, dead."

February 6

Danny reports that shelling of cities and attacks on the people of Syria continue to intensify. The gravity of the situation becomes more apparent as he sees the direct impact on the people of Syria. On this day, Danny is at a field hospital in Baba-Amr.

"Look at the bodies, dead bodies.

These are rockets. We've got more than 30 people dead and hundreds of injuries, look all dead bodies all over the place. These are all dead bodies. We're not animals. We're human beings. We're asking for help. We're asking for your help.

They're hitting us with rockets. They've been hitting us for four hours now. They're going to kill us all if you don't help us. They'll kill millions, and no one will find out about us. Please, someone, help us."

February 5

The violence is terrifying. Nobody knows when something bad might happen and if the violence will hit their family on that day, Danny says.

“You don't know if the rocket's gonna come in your living room or in your kitchen. It's not easy if someone loses their kid. I saw mothers crying today, that mother lost her 4-year old girl, and her 6-year-old girl lost her left eye.

That's not something easy. Everyone's becoming used to death here.

Blood in the streets. People think our blood is just like water."

He, like others, is concerned about the growing violence and expressed frustration about the lack of support from the United Nations after Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have put pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

 "The Assad army, they're not targeting one little place. They're not targeting someone they want. They're targeting everyone. It's randomly bombarding. They're just doing it randomly. They've never done this.

This is what the U.N. did. If it wasn't for the U.N., they wouldn't have did this. The U.N. gave them the green light yesterday. It gave them the OK to kill more. If the U.N. had done something about this, this regime would be a little bit scared."

The dispute over whether the U.N. should intervene or if the issue should be handled by the Arab League has been debated inside and outside the country. For Danny, the U.N. was seen as a last hope to help rescue the people of Syria. He fears what message that veto sent the al-Assad regime.

"We didn't want the Arab League. We wanted the U.N. to take control. And the U.N. abandoned the Syrian people, and we have no one now.

How are the Syrian people going to defend themselves? And now the Assad army has the OK from the European countries in the U.N. to hit as hard as they want."

There is also a frustration, he says, that perhaps countries have come out too late to put pressure on al-Assad. When they have, it has mostly been in grandiose words, not action. And that action, Danny says, is what is needed to stop senseless deaths and tragic and brutal beatings taking place across the country.

"Syrian people, we want to see actions. We don't want to see talk. We're really tired of talk and talk and talk and talk. We see no actions at all. The Syrian president still has his legitimacy. Until now, no country said that this president lost his legitimacy. Until now.

 Why does he still have his legitimacy? After all the killing he did, after all the raping of women, after all the children we've got dead here, he still has got his legitimacy. Until now.

Everyone's talking - while everyone's talking, every second, someone's dying here. It's becoming a normal number. There's 80 dead today, 100 dead tomorrow. These are human lives here. This is a humanitarian - they're not animals."

For many citizens like Danny, those numbers aren't just statistics. They are people. They are neighbors. And they should not be dead.

"I saw really horrible things I'd never seen in my life. Kids in the hospital, a kid with his whole jaw gone.

A little girl, a kid, she's 4 years old, she's dead. Her sister, 6 years old, she lost her left eye, and her mother is in intensive care.

This is nothing - what I saw is nothing. This is all around Homs."

soundoff (559 Responses)
  1. Prophet

    The inaction of the West will continue out of fear of the unknown. History shall repeat. Remember Srebrinca, Rwanda, Armenia.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      The west is tired... let the east step in.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      what are we supposed to do exactly? another war?

      February 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      In Rowanda millions died because of ethnic violence. In America if you dont like the govermemt you protest.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Practically minded American

      When history repeats, this time you can blame China ("the superpower"). It's funny how it's never China's fault even though they did block US-sponsored UN sanctions on Syria.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hera

      Why is this the West's problem? Since people in "the region" are known for shouting "death to America" why would they expect help from the US.Why not ask China, Brazil or any other emerging powers to help?

      February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • toadears

      Actually, MARY, that is only true now because Americans freed themselves from their oppressors by TAKING UP ARMS against the English King.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. whatislife

    its time for the world powers to put and end to this

    February 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    Way to post Danny's pictures, CNN.

    You've pretty much killed him, his family, his friends, ect.

    Good story though bros.


    February 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bob

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn't speak out because I was Protestant.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Thanks Bob. That is deep. We should those in need regardless of political and religious beliefs for our own survival.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex


      These are people, people who are being slaughtered, and no one seems to care.

      It's appalling.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • RHOFWI

      Right you are. We sat back and watched Hitler for a good while too.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hera

      This looks like a civil war with Syrian fighting Syrian.The US had its own civil war in which over 600,000 died.In that case the rebels were crushed by the US government led by Lincoln and the South destroyed. The result of that war was that no one dares succeed from the US.They have a government in Syria led by Assad, this is an issue that is best solved by Syrians.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Olla

      Thank God their are still some sane people in this world.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mosaddegh

    If Assad is out, all of the Syrian Christians will be massacred by Wahabbi crypto Jew extremists . So it doesn't matter if some FABRICATED Danni's FABRICATED mother tells some lies .

    February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. peaceful Guy

    I don't think that is the reality on the ground what is going on in Syria. CNN always make these things up. They never reported the killings in Gaza Palestine or atrocities going on in Indian occupied Kashmir or daily terrorism in India or even torture activities in Bahrain but when it comes to American interest in Iraq, Libya they are always making these stories which later on turned out to be fake.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Name one. If you say they're doing it all the time, you should easily be able to name three, or five. But name one.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AfriSynergy

    This guy's name is Danny Abdul Dayem, a British citizen. He's a liar and CNN knows it but they are using him to help promote the US government's war agenda to overthrow another government through violence.

    Last year, to BBC, Danny claimed he was shot in the waist with the bullet exiting through his back. Never any proof of that. He also claims it was not treated at the hospital and that he left Syria through its airport without any problem, referring to the Syrian government as being "very dumb". This guy is an actor.

    I hope this puts an end to this lying gangster.



    T. West

    February 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • American of Syrian descent

      Your are an Alawite dog. Images don't lie. Go stick your head in a blender ya akhir sharmuta. Free Syria.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      Interesting....thanks for the link

      February 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NAKH


    February 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. joe villicano

    This is sad and inhumane

    February 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Olla

    2011 1 dollar=48 syrian lbs today 1 dollar=71 syrian lbs...the regime will crumble soon enough, it will just take time and more civilian casualties...what a shame. He will fight tooth and nail, just as the others did before he goes down.

    February 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • NAKH

      Keep dreaming

      February 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • AfriSynergy

      You're mistaken if you think everyone the American Neocons are targeting are going to "go down". You should be more concerned about the demise of your own country and takeover by the military/merchant corporations.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    Aren't these the same people who where dancing in the streets on 9/11/2001? And they are asking where are we?

    February 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Olla

      No James, the aren't the ones who were dancing in the streets. It was the palestinians who were dancing in the streets, because everytime their homes are bombed by Isreal, they read MADE IN THE USA.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Practically minded American

    As I see it, let them kill each other. The fewer Middle Easterners (Muslims, Jews included) there are, the more peaceful the world will be. Moreover, why do we always have to bail out these idiots? Go ask China for help; after all, the Chinese are ever-busy promoting themselves as the world's next superpower. Well, it's time they start "walking the walk."

    February 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • RHOFWI

      Excuse me, you're bigtory is showing.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      You have to be atheist....

      February 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Godsspeed

    I suggest anyone who feel strongly to help in Syria should go and volunteer. We'll give you a plane, weapons, your prayer book and send you off with our prayers.

    February 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • NAKH

      nice one.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lola

    I wonder how he is able to continue to post videos to his youtube account when his building is being bombed?? My internet goes down when there is a bad storm.....

    February 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      He probably either has a device with its own internet connection, a wireless internet card or is connecting via satellite device. I don't understand why this is hard to fathom.....it's not new technology and has been available to everyone's phones for awhile now.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ma & pa

    Sometimes, relation to percentage of population is not the determining factor in who can govern a country civily, fairly and peacefully. What is to be done if the majority of the population wants to make war on each other and/or every country around them? Divide, conquer and destroy is running wherever it is not seen for what it is in the world. What does it take to keep instigators of senseless violence in check? See Them For What They Are and show them a better way. Some of them will still try to betray and kill anyone who doesn't Think their way. Consult the 2000-year-old description as reference of how they might be delt with and figure how to stop it before that happens, without chips and waves. It's not so easy to make the hard decisions. External force can stop the murder, but only the Free Will Decision of each free person to live peacefully can maintain a lasting peace

    February 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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