Ayyam al-Ahmad
Fiddler on a broken Syrian roof: Yarmouk's last musician
Syrian musician continues spreading music expressing hardship at Yarmouk refugee camp through Skype after other band members arrested and others fled; Yarmouk recently scene to massive clashes between ISIS and local Palestinians: 'We sing and play on the rubble.'
Over the last two weeks, the focus in the intractable conflict in Syria has shifted to Yarmouk – a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus's suburbs – where the Islamic State group has recently launched an offensive. Before the assault on the camp, a group of young people had formed a band they called Al-Yarmouk. Only the pianist, Ayyam Al-Ahmad, still plays.



"We sing under the rubble. We play words and melodies on the organ, create new life from them even under siege and give voice to the suffering of the camp residents," the group explains on its Facebook page. The songs, in which the torment of life without electricity, water, and food coexists with cautious optimism and an element of Palestinian nationalism, have become popular on social networks.


Ayyam al-Ahmad playing on a rooftop
Ayyam al-Ahmad playing on a rooftop


A Yarmouk resident told Ynet that the group's last street concert was interrupted by armed Jabhat Al-Nusra militants, who reportedly threatened the musicians. Most of them were arrested, stopped playing music or fled the camp.


In one recently released video, the pianist sings lyrics criticizing the PLO and aid missions. Al-Ahmad accuses them of being useless while the camp residents are hungry and exhausted.  Hoping to spread his message to the world, Al-Ahmad broadcasts his concerts on Skype.


Reuters reported on Wednesday that IS fighters had withdrawn from most of the camp, leaving the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda in charge.


Palestinians protest in front of a hospital in Yarmouk (Photo: AFP)
Palestinians protest in front of a hospital in Yarmouk (Photo: AFP)


However, the camp resident who spoke to Ynet said that "Daesh (IS) has not retreated. Even now I can hear the sound of the battles." He said that when residents arrived to receive aid packages on Wednesday, armed militants seized the goods. He added that the militants have avoided contact with civilians.


"They just come and go to the battle zones. Anyone who raises a weapon against them, they arrest him or his relatives, even if they're civilians. They kill and decapitate only those who fight against them, like local rebels and their relatives."


He said military intervention was not the answer. "The solution is the creation of a safe passage for us to leave Syria. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is the one who should demand to protect us and get us out of here."


The Syrian military has meanwhile targeted rebel-held areas of Aleppo. "Assad's planes have intensely bombed the area for five days," said a local reporter. "The Syrian regime is using different methods to crush the people that wanted to topple it. In Yarmouk people are dying of hunger because of the suffocating siege. In Aleppo people die from ground missiles and airstrikes… That's because it can't be besieged."


פרסום ראשון: 04.17.15, 22:45
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