DAY 741 - March 19, 2013
As the war in Syria thaws out of winter, countries in the surrounding region, as well as across the globe, feel a compulsion to get involved. Israel bombs a Syrian weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Russia and Iran both say they will continue to supply arms to Assad's soldiers. The United States commits to supplying "nonlethal aid" to moderate rebel forces. However, with the threat of arming radical Islamists looming, the European Union rejects a bid to give weapons to the Syrian opposition. Meanwhile, Assad's air force is unrelenting, bombing rebel bastions like Deir Ez Zor, Al Raqqa, Aleppo, and even over the western border and into Lebanon.
A month later the Druze man tells you that your father, Ibrahim, is in the northwestern neighborhood of Sheikh Maksud. You know that the district is on the fringe between rebel and regime control. At this point you are playing both sides of the conflict, creating your own diplomatic solutions that benefit your interests. You wonder if it's the same with your father, if the saying like father, like son holds as much water as everyone seems to think. Did he move your mother and two brothers to Sheikh Maksud as well? What is there left to do besides try to track him down? There is nothing, you decide. Sakhour has been decimated. It is a ghost town, and it will only get worse. It's a miracle you made it this long without seeing the wrong side of a barrel bomb. If you don't move now the odds are not in your favor. But going headfirst into enemy heartland, when you haven't left your apartment for a year, isn't going to be easy. Additionally, twenty-six people died today in the the Khan Al Assai district of western Aleppo. There are many videos that surface of the victims choking and clawing desperately for air until they eventually fade away. You think this is the first chemical attack perpetrated by Assad's regime. You knew that there were no longer rules in Aleppo but this seems to expertly prove your theory. Later you watch a video of a young boy in Aleppo holding a rifle to the head of the downed statue of Bashar Al Assad's father, Hafez Al Assad. And adding fire to flames, one hundred and ten dead bodies wash up on the edges of the Queiq River, which separates the regime-controlled western bank of the city and the rebelled-held eastern swath of Aleppo. Their hands are bound behind their back, making you and everyone else think it was a massacre. It is just one more atrocity that eventually will be forgotten throughout the course of the conflict. Aleppo, your home, now seems to resemble a tangled mess of shattered stone more than anything else. Foreigners are arriving to try to witness the unimaginable here, to see for themselves how dark humanity can plunge. You read about one of these war tourists in Aleppo, a 45-year-old Japanese man named Toshifumi Fujimoto. It all seemed to sneak up on you so fast, the destruction. You've heard testimonies of complete lawlessness out there. You're so confident online, but now you're having to come face to face with your mortality, like everyone else, and it is terrifying. But you have no other choice but to find your father. Your city is now so debased that it is an amusement park of irreverence. Aleppo took 5,000 years to build and only two years to destroy.