Middle East

Syrian opposition turns to Pokemon to win support

Syrian opposition groups have taken advantage of a global Pokemon craze to draw the world's attention to the plight of children caught up in the country's five-year civil war.

Photographs of children in besieged Syrian towns holding pictures of Pokemon characters and appealing for help were published by the Syrian National Coalition, an alliance of Western-backed activist and rebel groups.

Their release is an attempt to capitalize on the success of "Pokemon GO", which challenges players on smartphones to go to real-world locations to capture the cuddly monsters using the phone's camera.

"If you are looking for a Pokemon you can find it in Syria," the coalition said on Twitter through their communications arm, the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office.

Many Syrians feel the world is ignoring a conflict which has killed more than a quarter of a million people, displaced half the population, and left hundreds of thousands trapped by either government or rebel forces.

One photograph of a child with the Pokemon character "Pikachu" reads, "I am trapped in Douma in east Ghouta. Help me."

Douma is a suburb of Damascus besieged by government forces. Bombardments are a daily occurrence there and in the surrounding neighborhoods, which hold tens of thousands of civilians according to the United Nations.

Rebel fighters have also besieged government-held towns in the north of the country, and have fired rockets and mortars into government-controlled neighborhoods of Aleppo and the capital Damascus.


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