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Oscar-nominated Syrian film screened in Idlib

Spectators in rebel-held city cried and sat in stunned amazement as they watched documentary on White Helmets rescuers
'What the heroes of this film lived through is what all Syrians have lived through' (AFP)

An Oscar-nominated Syrian documentary following rescuers under government bombardment in Aleppo was screened on Monday before dozens of spectators in the rebel-held city of Idlib.

"Last Men in Aleppo," by Syrian director Feras Fayyad and the rebels' Aleppo Media Centre, shows the work of the White Helmets volunteer rescuers during the government siege.

Government forces are now conducting a Russian-backed offensive to regain territory in Idlib province, the last one that had remained fully outside their control.

Idlib is mostly under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a rebel alliance led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.

Spectators on the campus of Idlib University laughed, cried and sat in stunned amazement as they watched scenes of carnage and loss in the documentary.

"It stirred memories of the last difficult days in Aleppo and the many people who died before our eyes," Mohamad al-Shaghel, who fled the city, told AFP news agency.

The December 2016 defeat of the rebels in Aleppo after a ferocious onslaught proved a major turning point in the war as pro-government forces seized their last major urban stronghold.

"What the heroes of this film lived through is what all Syrians have lived through," said Alaa al-Abdallah, the director of the university's media institute.

The film, which has won a grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, is nominated for best documentary at this year’s Oscars.

Last year, White Helmets, another film about the civilian rescuers, won an Oscar for best short documentary.

Government supporters have criticised the White Helmets, calling them accomplices to rebel groups. But the rescuers say their only mission is to assist civilians. 

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