DAY 365 - MARCH 15, 2012
Protests in Daraa, Idlib, and Homs mark the one-year anniversary of the Syrian revolution. Government crackdowns ensue, staying in line with an unrelenting wave of brutality. Assad supporters stage their own rallies in Damascus, Latakia, and the Druze city of Sweida. The international community, floundering for a plan, appoints former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to head a special envoy tasked with diffusing the Syrian crisis. With the fear of arming terrorist rebels in the background, the US is hesitant to supply the Syrian opposition.
You learn that Marie Colvin, one of the most respected war correspondents the world has ever known, has died during the siege of Homs. You wonder when, if ever, the brutality of this war will cease. News reaches Aleppo that that over 40 soldiers that attempted to defect in Idlib province, not far from you, near the Turkish border, have been executed by the regime. You wonder what it takes for a dictator to make his soldiers kill their own. These are people that have fought besides each other for close to a year now. You and Jeremy aren't pinned down in Aleppo in the same way you were pinned down in Misrata not too long ago. But you sense that it is coming. Spatters of crossfire often times erupt from building to building. Here, in contrast with Libya, the conflict isn't as linear. The front lines are scattered from block to block and from city to city. After Anthony Shadid's death, many news organizations are hesitant to send foreign reporters into Syria for the fear of being blamed for what might happen. More and more the conflict is turning into a civil war whose atrocities are shrouded to the world. For the first time you realize that Syria is turning into a propaganda war through social media. With the depletion of foreign journalists, rebels and regime soldiers alike are turning their cameras on themselves and uploading the war in an attempt to sway momentum to their side. Always eager to follow a yarn on how technology is changing human warfare, you and Jeremy decide you should move. You hear of an American journalist-turned-freedom-fighter named Matthew VanDyke who is making a pro-revolution film. You hear he is in Aleppo. You want to track him down. At the same time, however, you hear of a certain DIY movement of weapon building that is happening in some of the other parts of Aleppo. You've heard of things like remote-controlled sniper rifles and massive slingshot mortar launchers. Both seem equally as interesting, but also just as dangerous to approach.
- Stay where you are. You and Jeremy are filing good stuff. You should gather more intel and be absolutely sure before you move.
- Go find Matthew VanDyke. You heard about him briefly in Libya but weren't able to reach him. This might be your second chance. Most people don't get second chances.
- Hunt down the DIY weapon makers in Aleppo. You have some contacts you can call. If there is one thing humanity is good at, it is finding creative ways to kill each other.