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Life Underground: Syrians Seek Surviv...
Hama
By TTM Contributor 9
11 Mar 2015

Hama, Syria
March 11, 2015

Rebels and civilians in the Latamina area of northern Syria have taken to digging mountain shelters in order to protect themselves from government forces. A rebel battalion called Tajmmu al-Izza (Pride Gathering), aligned to the Free Syrian Army and operative in rural parts of Idlib and Hama provinces, is doing the bulk of the digging.

The ensuing network of artificial caves provides a base for combatants, as well as a shelter for the dwindling numbers of civilians who have not fled the area. These caves also house a field hospital and pharmacy with 30 meter walls and continue to serve civilians and fighters alike. On the other hand, any makeshift medical centers built above ground were routinely bombed by Assad forces, according to an interviewed rebel spokesman.

This video shows detailed scenes of workers digging one of these makeshift caves with only simple tools, a task that usually takes about 12-15 days to be completed. Footage also includes interviews with the spokesman and the head of Tajmmu al-Izza.

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Wide of rebel vehicles outside cave
Wide of entry point to caves guarded by rebels

Wide of workers digging
Wide of worker taking debris out using wheel barrow
Various of workers drilling rocks
Various of workers taking debris out using wheel barrow
Various of workers building protection wall to shield cave entrance from bomb shrapnel

Wide of makeshift pharmacy
Wide of nurse working in pharmacy
Wide of entrance and emergency room in makeshift medical center
Various of nurse handling medication
Various of medical workers setting up operation room
Close-up of nurse preparing injection

Various of medical worker setting up operation room
Interview with Ubada al-Hamwi, rebel spokesperson
Various/ cutaways of Ubada al-Hamwi
Various of makeshift medical center and other caves
Various of rebel fighters inside caves

Medium of batteries used to provide lighting
Various of rebels in an office inside a cave Various/ Cutaways of Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group
Interview with Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group
Various/ Cutaways of Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Ubada al-Hamwi, rebel spokesperson
05:26 – 07:22

“The hospital was built underground in a rocky cliff. The rocks above it are about 30 meters high. This was done because of the bombing carried out by the regime, using explosive barrels and rockets. There was a need for an underground hospital to be built in order to protect medical staff, as well civilians and [fighters] who are being treated from injuries. The hospital has been established about 11 months ago. Most of the cases involve civilians injured in bombings. They could be injured by bomb shrapnel or suffer amputation. [The hospital provides] first aid to civilians. Fighters are usually treated from gunshots; undergo chest catheterization; and have shrapnel removed from their bodies as a result of mortar bombing. They also undergo surgery, which includes cutting the abdomen.
We needed a building that could protect doctors and medical workers, as well as the injured receiving treatment. An injured person feels more comfortable in a safe location.
Before we came up with this idea, we had an ordinary building that was repeatedly hit. We came up with this idea to provide the injured with safe and healthy conditions.
Digging was carried out using simple tools, such as drill compressors. The human effort involved was very large.”

07:02 – 07:22
“I am 23 years old. I studied Physics – I was in my second year at Tishreen University in Lattakia. I left university and joined the revolution since the outbreak of the early demonstrations.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Major Jamil al-Saleh, head of Tajmmu al-Izza Rebel Group

08:58 - 13:01
"We resorted to building underground shelters and caves to protect ourselves from the barbaric air and artillery bombing carried out by the regime. We went to the mountains because the altitudes above the caves are quite high. Caves have at least 20 or 30 meters of altitude above them. This provides more protection for our men and equipment. Hence, we have become able to last longer under air and artillery bombing carried out by the regime, thanks be to God. This gives us more strength, thanks to the thickness of the walls, which we can achieve by digging into hills.
The digging process… we are able to provide health services as well as electricity and water, but we face difficulty in providing these services. The means that we, rebels, have are limited. We do not have digging machinery. We are using simple tools. We do not have good means to provide fortification. We rely on manual labor. Our men are making a big effort.
We are accelerating our work, theerfore it takes about 12-15 days to finish a cave. By the end of this time caves would be ready for our men to use them. About 12-15 days, depending on the area of the cave.
Aircraft bomb field hospitals the moment they are discovered, whether these hospitals are used by fighters or locals civilians. This is done to exert pressure on the rebels' popular support base. We had to build hospitals in protected areas the same way we built headquarters.

"Thanks be to God, medical staff are able to carry out their work under bombing because of these hospitals. They serve the civilians – this is something that we care much about. We are also protecting medical staff because we need them in the current war circumstances.
The number of caves is very large. Civilians as well as rebels have resorted to caves. Caves are everywhere because they protect us. It is difficult to remain in the northern part of Hama province without these caves.
We, as fighters, are able to follow up on our work thanks to God and these caves.
Civilians have to stay inside these caves to be able to live. They are not happy with this, but many people have no other alternative. They cannot leave the area. You saw the weather conditions that we experienced this year. There was a lot of rainfall and it was very cold. People suffered a lot.

Power is provided by generators and water is extracted from wells. The regime has stopped providing services, such as diesel and electricity. It is not only rebels; civilians suffer from this as well. There is no flour or bread. All of this is provided by aid organizations from Turkey because the regime has stopped offering these services two years ago.”

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Women Fighters Ukraine 03
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 15, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Nurses Lesya and Dasha live and work inside the in the only working field hospital in the hotly contested town of Shchastya on the frontlines. A mere 16 KM away is the separatist held town of Luhansk. Pro-Russian separatists have shelled the town constantly since the ceasefire completly broke down in mid january. The two nurses treat the many wounded soldiers and locals who have been injured in the fighting. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 04
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 15, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Nurses Lesya and Dasha live and work inside the in the only working field hospital in the hotly contested town of Shchastya on the frontlines. A mere 16 KM away is the separatist held town of Luhansk. Pro-Russian separatists have shelled the town constantly since the ceasefire completly broke down in mid january. The two nurses treat the many wounded soldiers and locals who have been injured in the fighting. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 05
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Mama Tanya, a veteran from the Nagorno-Karabak war in the mid 90's is now fighting alongside Ukrainian forces by going to the front lines as soon as an injured soldier needs to be taken to the rear and receive treatment. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 06
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Mama Tanya, a veteran from the Nagorno-Karabak war in the mid 90's is now fighting alongside Ukrainian forces by going to the front lines as soon as an injured soldier needs to be taken to the rear and receive treatment. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 07
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Mama Tanya, a veteran from the Nagorno-Karabak war in the mid 90's is now fighting alongside Ukrainian forces by going to the front lines as soon as an injured soldier needs to be taken to the rear and receive treatment. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 08
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Mama Tanya, a veteran from the Nagorno-Karabak war in the mid 90's is now fighting alongside Ukrainian forces by going to the front lines as soon as an injured soldier needs to be taken to the rear and receive treatment. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 09
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Mama Tanya, a veteran from the Nagorno-Karabak war in the mid 90's is now fighting alongside Ukrainian forces by going to the front lines as soon as an injured soldier needs to be taken to the rear and receive treatment. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 10
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Vitaminka has left boyfriend and family to join in the Aydar volunteer batallion and fight against the Russian supported separatist forces. She now fights on the front lines alongside men. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 11
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Vitaminka has left boyfriend and family to join in the Aydar volunteer batallion and fight against the Russian supported separatist forces. She now fights on the front lines alongside men. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 12
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Vitaminka has left boyfriend and family to join in the Aydar volunteer batallion and fight against the Russian supported separatist forces. She now fights on the front lines alongside men. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 13
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Vitaminka has left boyfriend and family to join in the Aydar volunteer batallion and fight against the Russian supported separatist forces. She now fights on the front lines alongside men. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 14
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Vitaminka has left boyfriend and family to join in the Aydar volunteer batallion and fight against the Russian supported separatist forces. She now fights on the front lines alongside men. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 15
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Vitaminka has left boyfriend and family to join in the Aydar volunteer batallion and fight against the Russian supported separatist forces. She now fights on the front lines alongside men. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 16
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 17
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 18
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 19
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 21
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 20
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 22
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 16, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Anaconda also left family and friends to join up and fight in the war against the pro-Russian separatists. She enjoys her time at the front risking her life alongside the men from the battalion. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 22
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 17, 2015, Starobilsk, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Viktoria was a fighter on the front lines until she was injured. Her commander made her go back away form the fighting to take care of dead soldiers who need proper burial while. Sometimes she has to take care of bodies so badly mauled that a DNA testing is necessary for recognition. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 23
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 17, 2015, Starobilsk, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Viktoria was a fighter on the front lines until she was injured. Her commander made her go back away form the fighting to take care of dead soldiers who need proper burial while. Sometimes she has to take care of bodies so badly mauled that a DNA testing is necessary for recognition. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 24
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
24 Feb 2015

February 17, 2015, Starobilsk, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Viktoria was a fighter on the front lines until she was injured. Her commander made her go back away form the fighting to take care of dead soldiers who need proper burial while. Sometimes she has to take care of bodies so badly mauled that a DNA testing is necessary for recognition. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Join the Fight in Ukraine
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
15 Feb 2015

On the front lines in Eastern Ukraine, the town of Schachtya, situated 16 KM North of the rebel held side of Luhangsk, is home to numerous Ukrainian army units fighting to keep control of this strategic town. One of these units, the volunteer assault battalion Aydar has many women amongst its ranks. While some hold more conservative positions, such as medics, doctors, and burial specialists; a few women have made the choice to become snipers, or to fight on the front lines along side their male counterparts. Here are their stories:

Lesia and Dasha, two nurses who live and work in the only field hospital still functioning in the front line town of Shchastya. The town has seen regular shelling by Grad rockets and artillery fire from separatist forces camped only two kilometers away. Though a Red Cross flag floats on the building’s rooftop, many separatist shells have found their target, destroying the entire room inside the large brick building and destroying ambulances, walls, ceilings, and even the office used by the staff.

 "A shell hit the building just two days before, smashing out all the windows. Thank God the floor where the nurse usually sleeps was empty that night," Dashia said. “Otherwise she would have been killed."

She describes how the shelling got so bad that the doctors decided to evacuate any wounded civilians or soldiers still getting treatment within the hospital’s walls. Though most of the hospital’s staff left to nearby cities further away from the front line, Lesya and Dashia and a few volunteers like her have remained behind to treat the injured still inside the city in need of being stabilized before being sent off to other hospitals in safer towns.

The incessant shelling has destroyed the city's electrical grid, forcing locals to seek heat by cutting down the city's trees for firewood. The lack of electricity is a recurrent problem for the nurses who are charged with making sure the hospital stays warm, for themselves, but also for the patients who need treatment in their facilities.

"The silence is the most frightening," Lesya says. "When we are bombed, we know what to expect, what to do. We hide in the room in the far corner of the building. It used to be the safest place until the windows in it were knocked out by artillery strikes. When it is quiet we are more afraid."

However, the shelling and harsh living conditions have not frightened them. The nurses decided to come and help the Ukrainian soldiers suffering at the front. Both come from the restive Luhansk region in the east of the Ukraine, where for four hundred years locals have been heavily influenced by their big neighbor: Russia. Nonetheless, Lesya and Dasha refuse the very idea of a divided Ukraine.

Both have children. They had an opportunity to leave but they chose to stay.

"The people from Aydar (a volunteer army battalion with strict nationalistic views) are my friends," Dasha explains. "My boyfriend serves in this battalion. I am also completing documents to join the unit."

 

This is not the first war for Mama Tanya. After college she was a medic in Baku, Azerbaijan, during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the 1990’s. Her experience and her incessant will to save young men’s lives has brought her into yet another war in Eastern Ukraine where more soldiers need her help. Her task is to give first aid and pull wounded soldiers out of battle fields during special operations, heading to the front lines, picking up injured men and bringing them back to a nearby hospital for treatment.

"I fight for freedom and the territorial integrity of my country," she said, lighting up a cigarette. "This is our land. We are not aggressors like Russia. We are protecting our territory."

In this war alone she was injured on the battlefield, taken prisoner, and beaten up by Chechen soldiers. Yet she continues to stay on the frontlines.

"It is so scary here during artillery fire," she says. "I am the first one to run to the basement to hide, and I urge all the others to follow. It is stupid to die from a shell. To die on the battle field when one can see the enemy is another thing." She shows a certain tenderness for the young men fighting as she speaks.

The most difficult part of this war for her is not staying in wet dark trenches for days, without being able to look out or pee normally. She is sick and tired of losing people.

"I love everyone of the guys," she said. "I am ready to give up my soul for any of them. But most of all I love the kids, the young ones. I always wonder. Why, for God's sake, are they coming here?"

Mama Tanya, like many volunteers serving in the Aydar battalion, does not believe in the new cease-fire.

"The new humanitarian convoy from Russia has arrived," she explains. "We are waiting for 'presents' from the Luhansk People's Republic. They will wish us a happy morning, afternoon and evening. We known their schedule for artillery strikes precisely."

Though she dreams of peace, it will be difficult to leave life on the front lines.

"We are like a big family," she says. "The war will end sooner or later. When we think what we'd do after it ends, I jokingly suggest going to fight in Iraq or to liberate Georgia."

 

Vitaminka's biggest concern is that her boyfriend does not speak to her.

"That bastard went to the front without me," she recalls. "He went to work and told me to wait for him in Kiev, and I did for some time. Then he disappeared somewhere for two months. I later found out that he volunteered to go the front." Eventually, the 24 year-old girl also went east.

When the fighting with pro-Russian rebels grew more violent during mid-summer 2014 her boyfriend asked Vitaminka to return to a peaceful life and adopt a more traditional role, but Ukrainian women are not to be intimated easily. She joined the Aydar assault battalion as a fighter. As much as staying amongst civilians seemed intolerable for Vitaminka, her sense of patriotism towards her country has never been stronger.

"The most difficult thing is that when my dear brothers are dying here, the rest of people don't give a damn about it," she says recalling life in her native town of Zaporozhe. "They just drive fancy cars, buy expensive clothes, or sneakers for $200-300 per pair. That is why few fighters return from a vacation without getting in a scuffle with someone."

Vitaminka says the battlefield does not scare her. Everything is clear. She says her instincts take control of the body, as her will to kill remains sharp at all times. However, what really scares her is the anticipation in the run-up to an assault on enemy positions: "The most difficult is to wait for the unknown," she said.

Despite her unorthodox profession, Vitaminka has very conservative plans for the future, and plans to get married and have kids. She also wants to work as a recreation therapist.

"How could I help people get over the psychological effects of war if I have never experienced it myself?" she says. "What I like about being here is that life seems more vivid. There is a lot of grief.  It comes very often. Because of that, one feels joy much more keenly. I cannot change my attitude towards events. It is easier to change the events instead."

 

'Anaconda,' is young and willing to fight to keep Ukraine a unified nation. She got her name from a unit commander who jokingly referred to the young woman as powerful, yet a little slow due to her large size. The baby-faced 19-year-old says that her mother is very worried about her and calls her many times a day, sometimes even during combat. She says it is better to always pick up the phone, as her mother will not stop calling up she picks up.

"In the very beginning my mom kept saying that the war is not for girls," Anaconda recalls. "But now she has to put up with my choice. My dad would have come to the front himself, but his health does not allow him to move. He is proud of me now."

She used to serve near Debaltseve, but decided to move to the Aydar volunteer battalion to join some of her friends who were already in the unit. As a medic, she never liked violence, however being a passive observer was not for her either.

"I used to work in Kiev's military hospital as a nurse," Anaconda explains. "I understood that I could not keep watching our men dying and sit on the fence anymore. That was it. This is my country and my people. It hurts to see how fighters and civilians die on both sides of the conflict. I want this war to end faster," she said.

There are only two girls in the corps, but the men treat her well. "People are good," she said. "The only problem is to find a room to change."

 

Some 30 graves with grave markers reading “Temporarily Unidentified Hero of Ukraine” were hastily dug in a small cemetery on the outskirts of Starobilsk, in eastern Ukraine. Walking along the graves, Viktoria had something to say about each of the unknown soldiers. Though she had never met any of them while they were alive, she had kind words for each of these young men who fell defending the unity of Ukraine. After the 22-year-old was wounded in combat while fighting pro-Russia separatists, she was sent to Starobilsk to rest. Her will to help in the war effort did not diminish, and she felt she could do more while recuperating from her injuries.

Viktoria now takes care of the dead fighters. She delivers the bodies to the local morgue for DNA analysis, as many of the corpses who come in are in such poor shape that they are unrecognizable. She fills in the necessary paper work sends the DNA sample back to Kiev for testing, and hopefully finds a match with a family. Once this is done, she orders the coffins. She also has to deal with relatives of the dead.

"I talked with a wife of one soldiers buried in this cemetery," Viktoria said. "I told her that other fighters saw her husband crawling after them without two legs. It is unlikely that he survived. After the DNA analysis confirmed his identity, I called her again to find out the approximate date of the exhumation. But she did not believe me. She said that her husband was alive, and she would not rebury him."

Viktoria says that men are not able do her job. They go mad after a week of it, she explains. However, she too needs breaks from this rather morbid activity. Her solution is simple. Make regular trips to the front lines to feel the winds of battle upon her face, to remind herself that she is alive, and not dead like the many soldiers she helped bury.

"If I do not go to the front at least once a week I simply go nuts," she says. "I used to be in a combat unit, always on the front line. I need to sit in a trench for a minute at least or deliver food there and see the boys. My commanders do not allow me to go to the front very often. They are scared that I will stay there."

Viktoria refers to all of the dead fighters from the Aydar volunteer battalion only as 'her boys'. She feels obliged to pay them her last respects.

"We have buried so many decent people," Viktoria says. "Some of the boys had several university degrees, were very smart. Some were 18-19 years old. This land is not worth the lives of our soldiers. There are some deserving people here. But they are few," she continues, adding that most people in the region prefer to flee and become refugees, who talk of the 'crazy people fighting in the east'.

She used to believe that she was protecting her country, but now she is not so sure anymore. Yet, she cannot leave.

"Where I can go to get away from them?" she smiles. "They are helpless. Once I took a vacation. For the first time in a year, I put on a fancy dress and went to a nightclub. At five in the morning, I got a call in the nightclub. They said that there was a dead fighter. I had to give them instructions all the day via phone."

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Women Fighters Ukraine 01
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
14 Feb 2015

February 15, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Nurses Lesya and Dasha live and work inside the in the only working field hospital in the hotly contested town of Shchastya on the frontlines. A mere 16 KM away is the separatist held town of Luhansk. Pro-Russian separatists have shelled the town constantly since the ceasefire completly broke down in mid january. The two nurses treat the many wounded soldiers and locals who have been injured in the fighting. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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Women Fighters Ukraine 02
Schachtya, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
14 Feb 2015

February 15, 2015, Shchastya, Lugansk Oblast, Ukraine. Nurses Lesya and Dasha live and work inside the in the only working field hospital in the hotly contested town of Shchastya on the frontlines. A mere 16 KM away is the separatist held town of Luhansk. Pro-Russian separatists have shelled the town constantly since the ceasefire completly broke down in mid january. The two nurses treat the many wounded soldiers and locals who have been injured in the fighting. (Jonathan Alpeyrie)

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The syrian nakba 38
Atmeh
By adrian
01 Dec 2012

The silhouette of a Syrian woman outside a medical tent in Atmeh camp for IDP Syrians. Around 12,000 IDP's now live in the camp. The seemingly endless Syrian war means that these people will likely stay in these camps for the foreseeable future.

December 2nd 2012, Atmeh, Syria.

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The syrian nakba 39
Atmeh
By adrian
01 Dec 2012

Atmeh refugee camp, for internally displaced Syrians. Around 12,000 IDP live in the camp. Atmeh, Syria.

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The syrian nakba 40
Atmeh
By adrian
01 Dec 2012

02/12/2012 Atmeh refugee camp, for internally displaced Syrians. Around 12,000 IDP live in the camp. Atmeh, Syria.

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REDUCED TO RUBBLE: ALEPPO SCHOOLS & H...
Aleppo, Syria
By Editor's Picks
29 Nov 2012

A few short blocks from Dar al Shifaa hospital, destroyed just last week, an Aleppo school was also targeted by government forces, reducing the area to rubble in the early dawn.

Zachariah, a volunteer at the hospital told the photographer last October, "Even in the middle of death, happiness can still rise," in reference to his upcoming wedding with Bushra. The two had been married for about two weeks when she was killed. Now he spends his days alone in the ruins of the hospital, mourning his wife.

Fleeing ongoing violence, the sheer numbers of Syrian refugees have prompted Lebanon to request help from the UN to care for the displaced people.

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Destroyed Field Hospital in Aleppo - ...
Dar al Shifaa, Aleppo, Syria
By Jean Carrere
28 Nov 2012

The ground floor of what was for three months the field hospital in Aleppo. It was completely destroyed by a government airstrike on November 22nd. Between 35 and 40 were killed in the attack, including several medical staff. The rebel-controlled part of Aleppo is currently deprived of fully functioning medical facility.

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Destroyed Aleppo Field Hospital - Dar...
Dar al Shifaa, Aleppo, Syria
By Jean Carrere
28 Nov 2012

In front of the now fully destroyed hospital is Zachariah, a young man who volunteered at the hospital since the start of the conflict in July. He was married to a nurse last month, but she was killed in the air raid on 22/11.

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Destroyed Aleppo Field Hospital - Dar...
Dar al Shifaa, Aleppo, Syria
By Jean Carrere
28 Nov 2012

A former doctor and a volunteer from the destroyed hospital look through the rubble of what was the main emergency operating room in order to find personal belongings like wallets and identification.

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Destroyed Aleppo Field Hospital - Dar...
Dar al Shifaa, Aleppo, Syria
By Jean Carrere
28 Nov 2012

Zachariah and a former doctor look through the collapsed ceiling of the operating room. This is where Zachariah's wife Busrah fell to her death after the rocket hit. She was working on the first floor at the time of the airstrike.

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Destroyed Aleppo Field Hospital - Dar...
Dar al Shifaa, Aleppo, Syria
By Jean Carrere
28 Nov 2012

When I met him for the first time in late October, Zachariah told me that "Even in the middle of death, happiness can still rise," in reference to his upcoming wedding with Bushra. The two had been married for about two weeks when she was killed. Now, he spends almost everyday alone in the ruins of the hospital, mourning his wife.