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. D_NYC

    We have thousands of Chinese, Germans, Polishs, etc, etc, etc... Why is there a link in ARABIC in this homepage... CNN, this is ridiculous... ENGLISH IS THE LANGUAGE OF THIS COUNTRY!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff Haupt

      the rebels need to give up, Hillary needs to shut up, the US has already failed in Egypt and Lybia and the won't be successful here neither.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      I think the hope is that people in Syria (Arabic speaking) will be able to find news on what is happening in their country.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. survivin

    Pimpin ain't easy. Don't forget to duck!!!!!!!!!!! Syria is torn between two lovers (Russia and US), branded a fool.......... What will they say, come Monday at school..........

    February 9, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. jb

    Russia wants to support these murders. Let them sort out the mess, it will come back on Russia.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. ronen

    The finest Arab culture has to offer – butchering of their own people. This culture is not worthy of the word "culture", it's an auto-immune disease inflicted upon mankind.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • survivin

      They are wretched creatures and evil little ba st ar ds too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • ahmad dera'a

      u r expeirnce? can u mention 3 auto-immune diseases?

      February 9, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. ahmad dera'a

    this is agift 2 the freedom country USA

    February 9, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. D_NYC

    Ronen... I am 100% with you!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    I have a few questions to ask.
    1st) Where all the jihadis who where fighting against our soldiers in Iraq?
    2nd) why the muslims around the Islamic countries aren's burning Chinese and Russian flags?
    3rd) They called us infidel, but they always need our help to remove their faithfull criminals. Who's the infidel? read the story about the good samaritain

    February 9, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Great questions Jack. Would love to see the answers. If the Arabs want to help, let them. Saudi has all the military gear they just bought from the US. Have at it. Time for them to help themselves.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • ahmad dera'a

      1st) the jihadis are sent by the syrian regime and the iraqi prime minister proved this
      2nd)every muslims in the world burn russsian and chines flages in every morning and tommorow u can c
      3rd)u r allways follow ur benfits only u do not care about human rights

      February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cw

    Dear Bashir-Al Asad....God's wrath is thorough, I pray it finds you quick and brutally. And to those military attacking the own civilians they are sworn to protect, you criminals deserve a firing squad. Humanitarian crisis's like this MUST become a thing of the past.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. CNNshill

    "Although CNN cannot verify these videos independently,"?
    Interesting. Turner is on the war wagon promoting this propaganda with this "Danny" character.
    "Danny" claimed today on TV that he has no access to clean water, yet he remains fairly well shaved and groomed. "Danny" today called for "intervention". "Danny" uses American terms such as "livin", "luncheon meats" and others.
    Do you buy this?

    February 9, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      And he also resports that people cannot go on the streets... yet we see pictures of HUGE funeral processions marching down the streets. I don't buy it either.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • BigHwasdemo

      Next they will be liking him on Facebook and Twitter, yea I'm buying this ....NOT!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Danny's mother is English, his father is Syrian. Not all countries are as unaware of the world as we Americans seem to be.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ellen

    i just got one of my friend's email from syria. he told me that he and his family are scared now. army are crazy killing PEOPEL everywhere. he asked me for pary for them. I really don't know what those powerful country doing now. wait and see how many people are going to die in this coutnry? then finally to give help to prove how strong they are in the world again? come on~ do something~ people are dying by killed without reason every second. do something to help people

    February 9, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Jump on a plane and go help out. But I am not going to send my child to die there. If the US send forces there, we will end up with body bags in return. Syria is not Libya. Assad isn't the fool that Ghadaffi was.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • NAKH

      My friend also sent me email telling me that terrorists are everywhere, and the Syrian army should strike stronger to protect the people.
      You are saying that army is killing innocent people , let me tell you that more than 1500 soldiers and police men were killed also. each story has two sides but here you insist to show one side of the story

      February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • ahmad dera'a

      thank u

      February 9, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. D_NYC

    Jack... because they only hate America... the one they call the Imperialist and Land of Infidels... So do not ask us for help Syria... solve your issues the best you can... Some of us still remember how hundreds of you were dacing, clapping, cheering and burning American flags in the streets of Damascus as the World Trade Center collapsed with 3000 people inside... and now you ask for help? Screw yourself Syria.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNshill

      "Some of us still remember..."
      That's right D. Some people have short memories...

      February 9, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Spin Dr.

    Whatever happened to the promise: "Never again!"?

    February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      This isn't people beign rounded up and put into ovens... this is an armed revolt. All the civilians are not unarmed or the army wouldnt be resorting to blowing opening from building to building to keep from being exposed to fire on the street. Also pretty silly to use artillery against civilians... bullets are a 1000 times cheaper and quicker... use a little logic, don't be played.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Name

      Some how the people on this forum are full of hate and bias they can't see beyond color and religion they are fed lies and hate all they know is what the media feeds them which is Muslims want to kill you which is the biggest lie of the century and they need to travel the world to know the truth instead of watching the idiot box.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      @name... I have nothing against Muslims.. I wish them the best no matter what color they are. However. The Arab nations can take care of this. Why is it the US role to sacrifice our children?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. baok

    Got to love the Muslims, one day that are shouting death to America and the next day they are begging for our help! Very simple idiots, quit protesting so you quit getting killed.....and don't come screaming to the rest of the world for help when it is convinient.
    Mulsims will never be able to govern themselves. We could have stayed in Iraq another 20 years and as soon as we would have left they would revert back to their idiotic ways...just give them a year or two after we have just pulled out and the same thing will happen.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Another voice


      February 9, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • UM

      The Muslims asking for your help are the ones that want democracy. The ones that were burning the flags were the ones that don't like Americans... so you have to decide on what to do... I say to provide humanitarian aid, and thats it, no boots on the ground and let them figure it out. Who helped America during its civil war?

      February 9, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Scottish Mama

    Okay historian and military men they just showed some tanks that are bombing the people of homs, who do the tanks belong to? What kind of tanks are they?

    February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. D_NYC

    Ellen... get off that cloud... you are dreaming too high.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
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