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Russia attacks in Syria are lessons for online investigation in Ukrainian war, research says

March 24, 2022 at 4:32 pm

Russian military vehicles drive on the road as Russia makes a new military and logistic reinforcement of 30 vehicles to its military points in Kamisli, which is occupied by PKK [Samer Uveyd – Anadolu Agency]

Russian attacks in Syria laid the groundwork for what is happening today in Ukraine, a research conducted by Bellingcat says.

According to one of the world’s leading open-source research organisations, Bellingcat report, Russian attacks on Ukraine bear many similarities to those witnessed in Syria.

“Everything that happened in Syria, as well as what happened in Ukraine between 2014 and 2017, really laid the groundwork for what is happening today,” said Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat.

“It was basically in Syria where we learned all the processes we are now using with Ukraine. It’s also where we built a lot of the relationships we now have with the tech community, with accountability organisations, policymakers and others.”

Mnemonic, a Berlin-based non-profit, is also playing a major part in archiving efforts for the Syrian war.

According to the report, Mnemonic started off with the Syrian Archive, which was set up to preserve digital evidence of human rights violations during the Syrian war.

The online war archive was founded in 2014 by Syrian journalist and digital security expert, Hadi Al-Khatib, after he noticed activists did not have a central place to store videos and other material they collected in Syria, the report says.

“It only took us a few days to set up the Ukraine Archive,” Al-Khatib explained. “We knew how to do it and we know there are certain standards and protocols that need to be in place for preserving this material,” he said.

Now, Mnemonic is training Ukrainian activists on how to work with raw material — it is advice Syrian activists did not get until much later.

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