As 422 White Helmet rescuers and their families were moved this week from southern Syria to Jordan, thus saving them from the Assad regime’s retribution, journalist Elizabeth Tsurkov brings the story of one volunteer who was not so lucky.

Tsurkov writes that the rescuer was released from prisons as part of the exchange deal earlier this month in which pro-Assad fighters and residents could leave the regime enclaves of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.’

Tsurkov thought her contact was dead, only to learn that he was among 1,200 detainees freed. Others were not so fortunate: “long-term political prisoners were largely absent…raising grave concerns about their fate”.

The White Helmet testifies that he was in the notorious prison run by Branch 215 of Military Intelligence in Damascus , where many prisoners have reportedly been executed or died from abuse and poor conditions. He verifies:

There were detainees dying daily from lack of medical care and constant torture. I saw young people in their prime dying of infectious dermatitis.

I saw young people die from severe beatings. I saw people whose skin was falling off their flesh.

The rescuer, after several months in detention, says he is exhausted and suffering from partial amnesia.