8 July 2019
I am in Gaziantep, Turkey, just 150 kilometers from Saraqeb. 150 kilometers from the war that just won’t stop. It’s weekend In Gaziantep, a quiet day. It’s also quiet in Saraqeb. Except for the sound of fighter jets flying overhead, and the roar of explosions in the distance.
“Hi Ahmed, how are you?”
“Are you in Gaziantep? Really? Boy, would I love to be there rather than here.”
“The last few days I can only think about leaving. You know, we have some land in Raqqa. If we could sell it, maybe we would have enough money to leave. The future here no longer exists. Here in Saraqeb we live under HTS [a jihadist militia] and I wouldn’t want to live in Raqqa either — the Kurds there are seeking rapprochement with the regime.”
“Have you heard of Kafranbel? The city that used to be a symbol for all the good things about our revolution has been abandoned. The people were driven away. But what’s so embarrassing: one of the pilots taking part in the bombing of Idlib comes from Kafranbel itself. They’ve promoted him to colonel because of what he’s doing.”
“We hear more of those stories: there’s someone from Khan Sheikhoun who is leading the bombing there for the Syrian army, and we have similar stories of people from Saraqeb.”
“Maybe the stories are true, maybe not. But I wonder why people would do this, turn against their own. Because they’re criminals? Or because they get status and power? I don’t know. Maybe they’re forced to do it . To be part of their new community, the army, the Assad faithful, they must break all ties with their old community. In fact, they have to destroy it. Who knows.”