The Regime: Syria

BY ANDREA BRUCE

Damascus is a city of people waiting for the unknown. 

Most men have sent their children and wives to safer countries. The millions who remain continue to work and attend school. The food stands are full. Cell phone and money machine lines are long. Most things appear normal.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, Portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hangs at the Mujtahid Hospital in Damascus where injured were taken after a mortar fell on the Damascus University Faculty of Engineering in Damascus Thursday. The Dean of the University said 12 students died in the explosion.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, Portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hangs at the Mujtahid Hospital in Damascus where injured were taken after a mortar fell on the Damascus University Faculty of Engineering in Damascus Thursday. The Dean of the University said 12 students died in the explosion.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, Christian community servants, similar to Boy Scouts, attend the Good Friday service at St. Paul's Franciscan Church and Monastery in old Damascus.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, Christian community servants, similar to Boy Scouts, attend the Good Friday service at St. Paul's Franciscan Church and Monastery in old Damascus.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, A Christian member of a Shabiha, men armed by Assad's government to protect their neighborhoods, holds an Easter flower while manning a checkpoint.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, A Christian member of a Shabiha, men armed by Assad's government to protect their neighborhoods, holds an Easter flower while manning a checkpoint.

 

But the shrinking bubble of “normal” Damascus which remains under the control of President Bashar al Assad is haunted by the steady sound of shelling, hundreds a day, outgoing to the suburbs of this ancient city and beyond. 

Rebel car bombings are becoming common. Civilians who were largely sheltered by the civil war now find it at their doorstep. Local men armed by the government, called shabiha, stand guard at homemade checkpoints in their neighborhoods. And the displaced Syrians who fled areas of fighting for the safety of Damascus are worried once again.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, Various portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria, Damascus, March 2013, Various portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria, Damascus, April 2013, A woman rushes her children out of school and away from the scene of a car bomb in central Damascus which killed at least 25 people.

Syria, Damascus, April 2013, A woman rushes her children out of school and away from the scene of a car bomb in central Damascus which killed at least 25 people.

Syria, Damascus, April 2013

Syria, Damascus, April 2013

Syria, Damascus, April 2013

Syria, Damascus, April 2013

 Friends and family gather in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria, for a military funeral for Abu Layth who died while fighting for the Syrian Army. 

Andrea Bruce/ For the NYTimes
30148013A
 


Most people in Damascus are paranoid about discussing politics out loud...

...as its a dangerous stance
in a place where bothsides are intolerant of doubt.

In the Syrian province of Latakia, a regime stronghold, a small village mourns the loss of a son. Killed in an ambush at the other end of the country, the lieutenant — whose family asked that he be called by his nickname, Abu Layth — was the first soldier to fall from this village of 125 people in Syria’s coastal foothills, two years into a war that has only recently come close enough for the sounds of shelling to be heard.

Syria, Latakia, September 2013, Bassel Barhoum (center) hugs his mother Jamila Marshid during his brother's funeral in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria. Abu Layth died while fighting for the Syrian Army.

Syria, Latakia, September 2013, Bassel Barhoum (center) hugs his mother Jamila Marshid during his brother's funeral in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria. Abu Layth died while fighting for the Syrian Army.

Syria, Latakia, September 2013, Bassel Barhoum (center) yells angrily after looking inside his brother's casket at his funeral in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria. Abu Layth died while fighting as an officer in the Syrian Army.

Syria, Latakia, September 2013, Bassel Barhoum (center) yells angrily after looking inside his brother's casket at his funeral in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria. Abu Layth died while fighting as an officer in the Syrian Army.

Syria, Latakia, September 2013, Bassel Barhoum hugs his mother Jamila Marshid during his brother's funeral in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria. Abu Layth died while fighting for the Syrian Army.

Syria, Latakia, September 2013, Bassel Barhoum hugs his mother Jamila Marshid during his brother's funeral in the village of Daqaqa in Latakia Province, Syria. Abu Layth died while fighting for the Syrian Army.


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