As part of our effort to highlight civilian stories, below is a conversation between News Deeply and a Christian in Aleppo, a high school teacher in his fifties. He has lived in Aleppo all his life, his family left the country for their safety. He’s chosen to stay to keep working and watch over their home.
The situation is not good at all. It’s not even like the Lebanese Civil War – the whole country is being destroyed so fast that it’s like the same level damage that they saw in fifteen years, we’re seeing in less than two.
You sometimes see the images in the news, whole neighborhoods decimated over the course of one report. It’s 2 am now, I can hear the sound of bombings in the silence of the night, long threads of gunfire, interrupted by bombs and shells all the time. They’re shells of different sizes, different types, from air, from land, from tanks. There is food, it’s still reaching the city from the villages. We have basics like flour. There is water, but it’s often cut.
A while back we didn’t have water for more than three days because the water pipe was bombed. We can’t rest. We are exhausted. Our worries are piling up. The ghost of a bleak future is always in front of our eyes. My little brother went to Beirut with his entire family. A Muslim friend has been staying at my home for more than two months because it’s so dangerous in his neighborhood. His family of fourteen people left to a refugee camp near Latakia, after staying with me for a few weeks.
I have a little bit of savings, it should last me for a few years here in Aleppo if I spend it wisely. Other people are spending everything they have, or selling their jewelry if they have any. Many people are already bankrupt. During the Lebanese Civil War I used to hear a lot that people still had work, in East Beirut people would make a living. But here the situation is completely the opposite. The city is on full stop. The factories are all bombed and closed. All the workplaces are shut. I’d say 90% of the laborers in Aleppo are out of work. At least half of the population of Aleppo has left the city, if not more. Politically, there is no sign of hope, because neither side is recognizing the other. We can never have a ceasefire, because they won’t talk.
Those who used to preach to us about patriotism and love of Syria are all out of the country now. It’s up to us, the ones who are still living here, knowing that at any moment death can knock at our doors.
In my mind it’s not about just me. It’s about my family. My mother and my other brothers are still in the city. I don’t want to leave here without them. Even my Muslim friend who is staying with me, I want to take him with me if I go.
Where would we go, anyway? To Beirut? I’d be unemployed. There are no alternatives, so I’m staying here.