City of Chaos ( Syria, 2013)

22 images Created 5 Oct 2013

It’s been over 6 years since the revolution in Syria started in March of 2011. Bloody battle has spread across the country. This historic country, a one of the richest histories in the world, has been torn apart. In 2013, I crossed the border from southern Turkey with a fixer who is also a member of the Free Syrian Army. We instantly became friends, and I stayed at his house, where his uncle’s family, his fiancé’s family, and his cousin’s family all live together. I always ate lunch and dinner with them, chatted with them, and laughed with them. I was amazed by the incredible hospitality of the Syrian people, even in this turbulent time. As soon as I arrived in Aleppo, the second largest city of Syria, I realized that there was no water, electricity, food, medicine, gas, jobs, school, or even milk for babies. They lost everything. Those who used to be normal citizens of Aleppo took guns and joined the Free Syrian Army in order to achieve victory against President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held presidency since 1971. But as the battle for Aleppo gets harder and longer, people have become more anxious about the future of their country and their daily life. You hear the sound of indiscriminate shelling and gun battles even at midnight. You see the death of a friend or somebody you know every day. They feel like they are forgotten and isolated from the international community because no help has arrived, even though they have been calling for help. Many Syrians have become pessimistic; they do not wish to endure the condition of their daily lives any longer. On the other hand, the soldiers of the Free Syrian Army are optimistic and believe that they will eventually win. I often drank tea with them, and we laughed together. Even in front line, they were still laughing and joking until bullets ripped the air and the government forces began shelling them. I cannot forget their frightened faces when the battle became hard and one of their soldiers was shot. I cannot forget their anxious faces when we escaped and hid from the shelling. I realized that they were just like me in many ways. No one wants to die, even if they are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect their town and people. Are they the people who are being swallowed by the huge wave of the history of Syria? Or are they the people who are creating a new history of Syria? I do not yet know. But none of them know what is going to happen if they defeat Bashar al-Assad and his forces. They used to be students, teachers, engineers, farmers, and taxi drivers. They are someone’s father, someone’s son, or someone’s lover. None of the soldiers in the Free Syrian Army know what is going to happen next. One soldier said, “We really don’t have enough time or room to think about life after Bashar. We only have time to think about how we can win the battle. That’s it.” Syria has plunged into the chaos of war.
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