Return to Stories

The Battles for Syria

When a regime bombs and shells its own people - in hospitals, bakeries, schools, apartment blocks and places of worship - it knows it is losing the battle. Aleppo is as brutal a place as anywhere on earth - neighbourhoods laid to waste, bodies lying in no man's land, the thud and crash of bombs and screams in the night. The frontline snakes through the old town and the souk, enemies crouching one block from each other down an alleyway, some so petrified of capture that they will fight to the death. For the moment, a deadly stalemate prevails. It is clear that this fight can only go one way. What is less clear is what post-Assad Syria will look like.

Up against the razor wire separating Syria from Turkey lies the refugee camp of Atmah. Thousands of terrified Syrians are stranded and bottlenecked here, trying to escape their own governments bombs. It is hard to imagine a more miserable place where the beginning of winter has brought icy rain. Men, women and children slip and slide through the mud, looking for food and water. Only the horror of constant shelling would drive them to a place like this.

In Tal Rifat, Tom Pilston and Martin Fletcher from The Times, met Hakim, the local FSA commander. Martin Fletcher had met him some months before and could see the changes that had taken place over the past months of fighting. The rebel units had lost some fighters but gained a more steely resolve to fight on, knowing that if they lost the regime would exact a terrible revenge, worse than the bombing and killing they have already endured.

Tom PIlston was commissioned by The Times and spent 15 days in November travelling in and out of Syria from Turkey, covering the unfolding tragedy of Syria's civil war.
powered by