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360-degree video lets you step inside the devastation of Syria's civil war

Report was shot in the city of Jisr al-Choughour, where much has been reduced to rubble

A Syrian news agency has published a new report that allows viewers to see the devastation of Syria's civil war in 360-degree video. As French newspaper Le Parisien reports, the video was shot by a Syrian journalist in the northwest city of Jisr al-Choughour, near the country's border with Turkey. The images were captured between May and July, using a six-camera system, and were then optimized for virtual reality (VR) headsets by Paris-based Okio Studio.

Jisr al-Choughour has been the site of ongoing bombing and fighting in Syria, which has been engulfed in civil war for four years. As of 2011, there were about 40,000 people living in the city, though many have since fled. In April, Syrian rebel groups seized control of the city from the government of President Bashar al-Assad, though as the video report shows, nearly all of it has been destroyed. Since war broke out between Assad and opposition groups in 2011, more than 200,000 people have been killed.

The video, published by the Smart News Agency, allows users to change viewing angles by dragging their cursors across the screen or using a navigation tab in the top left corner. (The functionality does not appear to work in Apple's Safari browser.) Le Parisien reports that the video is best viewed through a VR headset. As VR technology has advanced, there has been growing interest in its potential for immersive storytelling and news reporting. Earlier this year, a news organization produced a 360-degree video report shot in Nepal, following devastating earthquakes.