Jasim Hospital

South of Damascus

March 17, 2011
March 3, 2014

According to Doctors Without Borders and other organizations, hospitals became frequent targets of the fighting. This photo shows the severely damaged National Hospital in Jasim to the south of Damascus. The shelling also hit a nearby electric substation.

Images: European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe)


Baba Amr neighborhood

Feb. 15, 2012

Sieges of cities such as Homs have left crucial infrastructure destroyed. In February 2012, an oil pipeline exploded in the outskirts of Homs. While the state news agency SANA blamed terrorists for the explosion, opposition representatives alleged that the government was responsible for the attack.

Image: European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe)

Deir al-Zour

Along the Euphrates, near Iraq

Feb. 13, 2013
Nov. 25, 2014

It has become increasingly difficult for Syrians to leave the area, as crucial infrastructure such as bridges and streets were destroyed or blocked. Between 2013 and 2014, a historic pedestrian bridge in Deir al-Zour, which spanned the Euphrates River, was destroyed. About 50,000 people were cut off from the rest of the city.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License (DigitalGlobe)

Refugee camps

Bab al-Hawa border crossing

West of Aleppo, near the border with Turkey

Nov. 26, 2012
Nov. 27, 2012

Over 3.7 million Syrians have fled since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. Many of them chose to travel through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. In the center of a U.N. photo taken Nov. 26, about 600 refugee shelters are visible. Shortly after the image was taken, an aircraft attacked the border-crossing, leaving a 40-diameter crater and destroying about 50 shelters. Although the U.N. report did not specify casualties, refugee camps were not spared from shelling. According to other news reports, the Syrian government attacked various other camps with barrel bombs and mortars.

Images: European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe)

Yarmouk Camp

A district in Damascus

May 11, 2011
Jan. 15, 2014

The unofficial Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus was particularly affected by shelling. Satellite images from 2014 show the district besieged, with roads blocked and security checkpoints set up. The Guardian newspaper recently called the camp the "worst place in Syria," despite being just five miles from Bashar al-Assad's residence. Yarmouk houses Syria's Palestinian diaspora population, but the siege of the Syrian government has left the camp without electricity, running water or access to enough food. Some have described it as Syria's Gaza — or even worse. About 150,000 Palestinians used to live in Yarmouk. This number has been reduced to about 18,000, who mostly live in the besieged refugee camp.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License (DigitalGlobe)

Al-Zaatari refugee camp

Northern Jordan

Nov. 15, 2012
Jan. 3, 2013
Feb. 26, 2013
July 10, 2013

Because of the frequency of attacks on refugee camps in Syria, many of the country's displaced people decided to flee across the border. Within two years, the al-Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan evolved from an uninhabited desert area to a tent city that houses more than 85,000 people. U.N. satellite imagery has tracked the evolution of the camp since its creation. According to the organization, "the al-Zataari refugee settlement has become the second-largest refugee camp in the world and the fourth-largest city in Jordan."

Images: European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe)

Feb. 26, 2013
July 6, 2014

The refugee camp rapidly took the shape of a real city — structured, planned and even separated into neighborhoods and subject to gentrification. The evolution also affected the shelters themselves: Whereas tents were used in the early stages, they were later turned into more permanent structures.

Images: Airbus Defense and Space (CNES); European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe)



Near the old city's citadel

Nov. 21, 2010
Oct. 22, 2014

According to the most recent U.N. analysis, more than 8,000 buildings and other structures were damaged or destroyed from 2010 to May 2014. Aleppo is among the hardest-hit cities in Syria. The satellite photo above shows multiple historical sites that were damaged, including the Carlton Citadel Hotel and the Great Umayyad Mosque.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License (DigitalGlobe)


On the Turkish border

Sept. 6, 2014
Nov. 6, 2014

The northern Syrian city of Kobane was once a Kurdish haven next to the Turkish border — until the Islamic State briefly took it over last year. The sudden escape of the city's residents was especially observable at the old Souq al-Hal market north of Kobane, about 435 yards from the Turkish military border station. The photo showing impact craters inside the market was taken in November — about two months after Islamic State fighters took the market and caused additional damage around the area.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License (DigitalGlobe)

Sept. 6, 2014
Oct. 15, 2014

This photo shows cars that were abandoned by refugees on the Syrian side of the border near Kobane. Within days, makeshift refugee camps sprung up in Turkey to accommodate the residents of the embattled city.

Images: DigitalGlobe


Masaa Al-Arbaeen district

Aug. 6, 2010
Oct. 23, 2012

These two satellite pictures depict the results of the demolitions occurring in the Masaa al-Arbaeen district of Hama at the end of 2012. Government forces attacked the district because its residents were regarded as opposition sympathizers by the Assad regime. More than 3,000 buildings were destroyed.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License and European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe)


National Hospital

Jouret Al-Shayah neighborhood

June 29, 2010
April 21, 2014

What distinguishes the current U.N. report from previous analyses is its focus on details. For instance, the researchers examined the National Hospital complex in Homs. By April 2014 the buildings had been heavily damaged, forcing the remaining doctors to operate in makeshift underground hospitals. According to Doctors Without Borders, there were at least eight field hospitals in the north of Homs by March 2015 — providing medical services for about 350,000 people who have been besieged for more than a year. "Medical supplies can only reach North Homs after a perilous journey on dangerous and insecure roads full of checkpoints, where the probability of death, arrest and confiscation of material is high," the organization said.

Images: European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe). CNES 2014-Distribution Astrium Services/Spot Image. Airbus Defense and Space.


Al-Hamidiyah neighborhood

June 29, 2010
April 21, 2014

Another U.N. photo shows three schools in Homs that were damaged by shelling during the war. Attacks on schools are common in Syria — often claiming the lives of students, teachers and parents. According to the organization Save the Children, more than 3,000 schools have been damaged. Syria Deeply — a news Web site dedicated to the Syrian conflict — described one attack on a school in Homs last year: "The first blast went off as the children were leaving school. The second exploded as parents desperately searched for their children among body parts and rubble that lined the streets near the school." To protect themselves from shelling, some teachers have set up makeshift classrooms in basements.

Images: European Space Imaging (DigitalGlobe). CNES 2014-Distribution Astrium Services/Spot Image. Airbus Defense and Space.

Historical sites


Archaeological site near Iraq

Sept. 4, 2011
April 2, 2014

Not much is left of the historic east-Syrian border city of Dura-Europos. Looting has left some of the city's ruins unrecognizable — among them extremely valuable architectural sites such as synagogues and churches that had remained untouched for centuries. Experts are also worried about Syria's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. All six of them have been placed on a "danger list," and, according to some reports, militants are using the looted relics to finance the fighting.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License (DigitalGlobe)


Historic city east of Aleppo

Oct. 12, 2011
Oct. 6, 2014

Raqqa in the north of Syria — a center of the Islamic world in the 8th and 9th centuries — has suffered from similar destruction. Since it was occupied by the Islamic State, historic sites and buildings have been targeted by the militants. The two photos show the shrine to Uwais al-Qurani and Ammar Ibn Yasser in 2011 and 2014. By 2014, all three tombs on the outside of the shrine and their minarets had been destroyed.

Images: US Department of State, Humanitarian Information Unit, NextView License (DigitalGlobe)

SOURCES: Satellite Imagery Analysis by UNITAR-UNOSAT.