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 capitalise 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 neighbourhoods, which hold tens of thousands of civilians according to the UN.
Rebel fighters have also besieged government-held towns in the north of the country, and have fired rockets and mortars into government-controlled neighbourhoods of Aleppo and the capital Damascus.