In Damascus Suburbs, Rebels Store Human Shields in Cages

Cageloads of Pro-Govt Captives Ferried to Rebel Sites

On Friday, Syrian military rocket strikes against the Damascus suburb of Douma, in the East Ghoula district, hit a marketplace, killing at least 89 people, including a number of civilians. This fueled concerns about the large civilian tolls in the regular bombardment of this rebel-held district.

Adding some intrigue to that story, however, video footage emerged from East Ghoula district showing rebels transporting several cages full of “human shields,” identified as the families of government soldiers, and which according to reports are being taken from place to place to try to dissuade strikes.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that the human shields program is run by Jaish al-Islam, and includes both the families of  soldiers and random Alawite civilians. The cages are often placed in areas from which the rebels are firing rockets to try to discourage retaliation.

It’s unclear if any of these human shields were among the casualties of the Douma strike, though those interviewed during the Shaam Network report on the program suggested that the site of such cages is not an unusual one across public squares.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.