24 July 2012, 21:27

Aleppo: a firsthand account

Aleppo: a firsthand account

For the last few days Western and Arab TV channels have been constantly telling us about the fierce battles between government troops and the opposition in Aleppo – the economic capital of Syria. At the same time, it’s worth noting that they are just describing the events and not showing them. Instead of a television picture we are offered only a few seconds of fuzzy amateur videos. So what is going on in Aleppo? Aleppo resident Fatima Banauwi, an Aleppo University employee, has agreed to an interview with the Voice of Russia. According to her, the rumors about the battles in the city have been grossly exaggerated. But all the same, it is not safe in Aleppo.

We try not to go out into the streets because it’s unsafe there right now. Some kind of rallies are being held all the time organized by the so-called Free Syrian Army. But there are no locals at those rallies.

Who comes to the rallies then?

Some from Idlib, some from Hama.

Have you seen them yourself?

Yes, they are young, around 15-16. They look very strange, walk with weapons, curse and shoot in the air. Seems like they’re not themselves, either drunk or drugged.

And what’s the life of ordinary citizens like right now?

Well, the prices have gone up. The rebels attack cars with food provisions and other products, but they don’t use them. They either throw everything out or burn it. Why do they do that? It makes no sense. Maybe to make the local population protest against the government, I don’t know.

Today in the morning they were threatening the owners of some bakeries. They put huge gas tanks in front of the shops and said “If you open the shop today, we’ll blow it up!” Then they blame the authorities for us sitting here without bread.

But all in all, we manage. It’s Ramadan right now, so we still go visit each other, celebrate together, try to support each other. We believe that everything will get settled and the army will take care of the bandits. They can’t frighten us!

And what does the local TV show?

We don’t know which channel to trust. The “Halab-Today” channel that supports the opposition gives reports of every explosion and shoot out right from the hot spots. And sometimes they even show news before it happens! I’m not kidding, it’s true.

And how do the Syrian defense units operate in the city?

The soldiers probably try to make it so that the local residents don’t get hurt. But the militants shoot wherever, they don’t care who they kill. They even kill children! And then they put horrible pictures of those killed children on the internet and write that they are victims of the regime.

In other cities, including Damascus, the rebels forced citizens out of their homes and occupied their houses…

We’re not leaving our homes! The militants would ransack them. Those people have no education, no faith - they’re savages!

I’m sorry, seems like there’s some kind of noise. Is that the TV or is the sound coming from outside?

Don’t worry, that’s the street vendors. They use megaphones to advertise their products (laughs).

Naovaf Ibrahim, Munsef Matni
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