It’s been over two years since the violence in Syria started, launching the country into a civil war between a government and its own people. An estimated 80,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, according to the U.N., which adopted its fifth non-binding resolution related to the crisis on Wednesday, calling for a political transition in Damascus and condemning the government's use of heavy weapons.
Throughout the conflict, AC360 has spoken to Syrian activist Zaidoun al Zoabi for regular updates and accounts of the regime’s brutality. Zaidoun, whose father was a member of Syrian parliament, never shied away from using his real name, saying this revolution has enabled him to hear his voice for the first time. His activism led to his and his younger brother’s arrest last December. The Syrian secret police took them to a notorious facility known for torture. Zaidoun was released less than a month later. He later spoke with Anderson saying it was a “factory for madness and death.” His brother was never set free.
This week Anderson Cooper will be joined by Christiane Amanpour, Jeffrey Toobin and Amy Holmes for a special edition of the program at 10 p.m. ET. A fifth seat at the table will be filled by a different guest each night.
On Monday, blogger and author Andrew Sullivan took the fifth seat, which made for a lively debate about U.S. involvement in Syria. Watch part of their conversation when Senator John McCain called in to argue why it's imperative to help the Syrian people immediately:
Fran Townsend and Bob Baer analyze video that purportedly shows patients sickened by chemical weapons in Syria.
Bashar al-Assad's regime and the opposition fighters accuse each other of using chemical weapons in Syria. Fran Townsend and Bob Baer react to the news and discuss what the situation means for the United States.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said "we're going into some very dark times" when asked about the Syrian government possibly unleashing chemical warfare. If they did indeed use chemical weapons, that would be crossing the red line set by Pres. Obama to mark when the U.S. would take action.
Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, are still trying to verify what's happening on the ground in Syria.
Anderson Cooper spoke with Senator John McCain about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria two years after civilian protests began, leading to a brutal crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad and a violent conflict between government forces and the opposition.
They also discussed the issue of same-sex marriage in light of Republican Senator Rob Portman's announcement that he now supports gay marriage because his 21-year-old son is gay. McCain says he respect's Portman's decision, but disagrees because of his religious beliefs.
Zaidoun, a Syrian activist who has spoken on AC360 about the atrocities in Syria, tells Anderson Cooper what he witnessed inside a notorious prison where his brother is still held captive.
Zaidoun says he wasn't tortured, but did become seriously ill with no medical treatment to help him, and lost 35-40 pounds. He was in a small room that had little oxygen with about 90 others, and heard "horror stories" about how detainees were treated. The description he gives offers a glimpse into the psychological suffering of civilians imprisoned "for no reason." Zaidoun refers to it as "the torture of souls."
An activist who has spoken on AC360 about the massacre in Syria is now free. Zaidoun was taken weeks ago by secret police, and he says he was gravely ill while detained. His brother remains in custody.
Zaidoun's children don't know he's been detained in Damascus at a notorious facility; they think he's been traveling for a few weeks. Risking his safety, the Syrian activist spoke many times on AC360 about the violence in Syria and the regime's attacks on civilians. His family is hoping he and his brother will be free soon. Anderson Cooper spoke with Zaidoun's cousin who lives in the U.S.
A Syrian activist, Zaidoun, was detained by secret police in Syria along with his younger brother, according to his family. He risked his safety many times to speak out on AC360° in order to expose the massacre in the country. Zaidoun also talked of the importance of justice and freedom. In one interview, he told Anderson Cooper,"This is our chance of life to get our freedom. We've been dreaming of this moment for the past 40 years."
Zaidoun's family created a Facebook page for supporters.
An activist put himself in danger to tell the world about atrocities he witnessed. Zaidoun was recently detained by secret police, according to his family.