Syrians Have Been Living Underground In Response To Airstrikes

Living conditions in eastern Ghouta have all the shades of hell. Here's how people are surviving.

As the war in Syria enters its eighth brutal year and the complex alliances, front lines, and war crime allegations ebb and flow from view, it is very difficult to get unbiased information. As a general rule, BuzzFeed News does not use images from nongovernmental organizations. We have decided to make an exception in this case given the paucity of reliable information and because of the shocking recent news from the town of Douma and the impending foreign policy decisions that it may prompt. We have not been able to independently verify this information.

The family seen in these photos had been living largely underground in the beleaguered eastern Ghouta neighborhood as the Assad regime sought to gain control from the rebels.

The living conditions underground were inhospitable at best, according to the International Rescue Committee, which provided the pictures and quotes to BuzzFeed News. In search of safety, dozens of people packed into the basement of a house destroyed at the end of February.

"There is little fresh air and the high humidity in close quarters was causing mold and respiratory infections to flourish. Cooking, cleaning, playing, and sleeping all had to be done below ground to protect from airstrikes. To go upstairs and outside to retrieve household items or food rations was risky at best," the IRC said.

As we publish, the Assad government has newly captured their neighborhood, and it is unclear if or how their living conditions will change now that the front lines have shifted and the US has conducted airstrikes. We are using first initials to protect their identity.