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Syrian Kurdish Refugees Find a Home i...
Akre
By Mat Wolf
20 Mar 2015

March 20, 2015
Akre, Iraqi Kurdistan 


Housed inside a former detention facility, Syrian Kurds who fled fighting in their homeland are doing their best to restore normalcy in their lives in the mountainous Iraqi Kurdish city of Akre in the Dohuk government.
 
At the Akre settlement for Syrian Kurds—housed inside a former prison and Baathist military base—parents look on as their children run around the facility’s courtyard setting off fireworks. Youngsters are also working on a mural covering part of the two-story, yellow brick facility’s walls and stairwells in an art project sponsored by the Rise Foundation NGO and local teachers. Cartoon characters, animals and hearts are popular themes in the artwork.
 
“I like the trees, flowers, woods—the natural views,” says English teacher and fellow refugee Nazim Qamr, 29. He adds he’d prefer the children avoid cartoon characters, but it’s not up to him.
 
“We ask the children and listen to their opinions about what they like and don’t like,” Qamr says. 
 
As rays of sun occasionally poke through the clouds on an otherwise gloomy March 20, Iraqi Kurdistan’s mountains and postcard beauty makes it easy to forget the Akre settlement is a refugee camp. Housing just under 1,500 people—many of them small children—its residents are afforded small apartments converted from prison cells, and many admit they’re superior to the UN tents and ad-hoc structures that define many of the region’s refugee camps.
 
“They gave each family a room,” says 24-year-old English teacher Kawther Ahmed, originally from Damascus. She came to Akre with her family a year and a half ago, and said camp administrators from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government have done their best to ensure the Syrian Kurds feel welcome. “Compared to the tents, this building is better than the tents,” she says.
 
Because the Syrians at Akre have been taken in by their fellow Kurds, they’re also allowed more privileges than the local government typically allows non-Kurdish refugees. Residents of the Akre settlement are allowed to freely come and go from the camp once they’ve filed residency paperwork, and can seek work in the local community. But despite some advantages given to Kurdish refugees in Kurdish territory, many of Akre’s Syrians still bear the scars of their homeland’s complex civil war, and have faced difficulties in adjusting to life in Iraq.
 
Adnan Mahmoud, 35, says he is originally a mechanic from Qamishli who fled the forces of the so-called Islamic State in Syria and came to Iraq a year and half ago. Since that time he’s developed a cataract in his left eye, and he says he’s gone partially blind. “It’s a simple surgery, but they don’t have doctors here to do it, and I’ve filed paperwork to go to a hospital that can, but nothing’s working,” he says.

He adds his young daughter Haifa has suffered a knee injury, and has had an X-ray done, but she also needs surgery and the refugees at Akre can’t find basic medical care.
 
Mahmoud’s friend and neighbor Samir Mohamed Saleh, 31, is a former restaurant worker who lived in both Syria and Lebanon before fleeing to Iraq a year and a half ago. He adds that in addition to insufficient medical care, work opportunities for Syrian Kurds in Iraq are limited and low paying.
 
They both say they’d like to be able to find real, serious work like they had in Syria. Like other men in the camp, they’ve found work packing and loading gravel, but they say the salary is poor and the work exhausting, sometimes for as little as $1.30 a day.
 
“We need real work, we need self-respect,” Samir says.
 
He adds however he thinks the Iraqi Kurds have been gracious, and that at least in Akre he has a roof over his head and food to eat.
 
“It’s good here, we have bread, electricity, food and water,” he says. “The Kurds in Iraq have helped us a lot, I mean we’re the same nation, but we still need more.” 

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Destruction and Relief Accompany Libe...
Tal Hamis
By TTM Contributor 33
02 Mar 2015

Kurdish and Arab commanders explain the significance of the liberation of the village of Tal Hamis in the broader struggle against ISIS in northeastern Syria. Suleiman al-Shemri, military leader of the Al-Sanadeed forces - themselves the descendants of the Al-Shummar tribe from which various ISIS fighters have been recruited - describes how the three-day battle to liberate the village was in response to pleas from the village's diverse population hailing from various tribal backgrounds. The film also depicts widespread scenes of destruction in a village that, while verdant, has been given over to abandon.

Shot List:

Shots of the destruction caused by the 3-day battle
Shots of some ISIS symbols and pronouncements
Shots of the city streets and road signs
Shots of the Kurdish forces in the city with the vehicles and flags of the Kurdish forces on a strategic hill in the city

Transcription:
(02:22-04:26) Akid Derek, field commander in the YPG:
(Man, Kurdish)

Telhamis was a center for the Syrian regime but they relinquished it about two years ago and it fell under the control of those terrorists. Our raid started from more than one angle. We began in the town of Jazaa, which is located on the border of Kurdish Iraq, and from the village of Palestine, until we reached here. People's Protection Units and Women's Protection Units along with several supporting Arab forces were able to liberate areas in order to reach Tel Hamis. Coalition air forces were available but not with the required intensity. The liberated area is very big and even reaches the town of Telbrak.

Civilians gradually began returning to their homes and are now free after having suffered under the control of ISIS. We talked to the inhabitants of the liberated villages who confirmed that members of ISIS had seized their property and belongings and evicted them from their homes and villages. At this moment we are going to continue with our raid until we clean the area of members of ISIS, who are now about 30km from Tel Hamis in the area of al-Hol.

ISIS placed mines in parts in the village and in cars too. Some of them are still underground and our specialists are working on deactivating them. We have imprisoned many members of ISIS in this raid, and our forces killed dozens of them. We have 30 ISIS corpses.

(06:30-10:00) Suleiman al-Shemri, military leader of the Al-Sanadeed forces
(Man, Arabic)

Interviewer: tell us about the raid, who participated in it? And how long did it take to liberate Tel Hamis?

Suleiman: The raid began on 21 February 2015 and lasted three days. With the help of God we were able to accomplish our goal. We started this raid as an answer to the request of the population to fight those people who are not related to Islam, based on the request of the inhabitants of Tel Hamis, the people who are the tribes of Sharabeya, Shummar, and Tay. It was based upon their request that we came to Tel Hamis, a center for ISIS.

Interviewer: Why is Tel Hamis significant?

Suleiman: It is an area that connects Iraq and Syria, a strategic location for ISIS.

Interviewer: you, the Al-Sanadeed forces, participated with the YPG in the raid. Who else participated?

Suleiman: The participants in the raid were the YPG (People's Protection Units), the Women's Protection Units and the Al-Sanadeed forces. The Al-Sanadeed made up about 1200-1300 fighters in this raid, but the inhabitants also helped us, while the coalition air forces played a significant role. Almost 200 members of ISIS were killed, and we imprisoned others, but do not know the number of captives. The Peshmerga also helped us from the border.

Interviewer: How many villages were liberated? How big is the liberated area?

Suleiman: We liberated almost 150 villages in the first few days and up until now have done so in about 200 villages.

Interviewer: How far is ISIS now?

Suleiman: They are in al-Hol now. Yesterday the fighters liberated Telbrak, and now we are heading to al-Hol, and then hopefully on to Iraq. People are asking for our help and we are always ready to help people – to fight the enemies of Islam.

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Kurdish Female Fighters: A Day in Syr...
Terbespi, Syria
By Rozh
05 May 2014

March 18, 2014

Tirbespi, Northeast Syria.

Storyline: Female fighters of the pro-Kurdish Yekineyen Parastina Jin (Women Protection Units) (YPJ) tell their stories, their experiences, why they joined and what they fight for in this women-only militia amid the civil war in Syria.

Interviewees:

  1. Janda Chya, prefers to be called only as "Janda"
    Captain, YPJ Sehid Warsin Brigade

2.Dicle Jutiar, prefers to be named only as "Dicle"
Captain, YPJ Sehid Warsin Brigade

  1. Shilan Muslim, "Shilan"
    Combatant, YPJ Sehid Warsin Brigade

  2. Sozda Muhammad, "Sozda"
    Combatant, YPJ Sehid Warsin Brigade

  3. Zilan Salih, "Zilan"
    Teacher

6.Desine Xelef, "Desine"
Combatant, YPJ Sehid Warsin Brigade

  1. Manifa Salih
    Mother of Janda Chya

Shot List

  • Cutaways of AK47 being cleaned and getting loaded.

  • Zoom out establishing the location.

  • Static shots of the company fighters coming to morning attention

  • Mid and close-up shots of the interviewees outside in the open and inside a room of the camp.

  • Cutaway shots of the fighters walking around and guarding their camp as well as checkpoints.

  • Cutaway of a fighter reading a book. Others clean rifles or walk to their posts.

-Wide shots of one of the building of the camp, in front of which the fighters receive weekly food.

  • Wide, mid, close-up shots as well as zoom in and out of the fighters' daily routine: talking, joking, singing, dancing, language teaching and having launch. The shots include inside building and outside in the open at the camp.

  • Close ups, mid and wide shots of interviewees cleaning theirs rifles at the time they talk of their experiences when they first joined, why they joined and what their families think of them as women fighters. Also highlighting their fears and how they overcame them.

  • Cutaway checkpoint shots.

  • Shots inside a car taking an interviewee to visit her family and talks about how she cannot often visit because of continues attacks against them.

  • Wide and mid shots following talents while being interviewed at the camp.

  • Wide and mid shots following two talents entering a family village home.

  • Wide, mid and close ups of the talents and family members inside and outside the village home as well as through the village when they goodbye apart.

  • Short shots of from inside the car showing a drive through Tirbespi's main road while en route to the village house.

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World Largest Dolma Feast in Erbil (1...
By Stefanos
03 May 2014

Children of Kawergosk Camp in Erbil! In Kawergoskm Camp living more than 15.000 Syrian Refugees. There are 1.600 children. In 3/5/14 Medes School of Erbil Organised an event with ''The Biggest Dolma Ever in World'' . They Organised this event to give food to Children of Kawergosk Camp (Syrian rrefugees). Here are two children after taking their Dolma...

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Iraq - Kawrgosk Refugee Camp
Erbil, Iraq
By Victor Point
02 May 2014

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, around 210 000 refugees, mostly Kurdish, have found refuge in Iraqi kurdistan. The Kawrgosk camp is one of the eight camps of the region and the closest to the capital, Erbil. It opened in August 2013, after the border with Syria re-opened. Today, the camp hosts around 12,000 people, packed in 1,800 tents. The majority of them are from Qamishli in Syria.

Facilities and medicine are scarce. Funding also remains an issue for the NGOs working in the camp. Refugees who want to work outside the camp need a permit from the Iraqi authorities and have to go through long administrative procedures to obtain one. Those who are able to get a work permit are only allowed to do manual jobs. The money they earn allows them to buy items they don't received through humanitarian aid from the Kurdish government and the NGOs.

Children make half of the camp population. Only those above seven can attend school, as there are no classes for the youngest. Teachers are refugees also living in the camp. However, school is not mandatory and many children don't attend.

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Female Kurdish Fighters-19
Tirbespi
By Rozh
10 Mar 2014

Two female combatants of the Women Protection Units (YPJ) walking to their outposts in the outskirts of the town of Tirbespi northeast Syria, March 2014.

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Female Kurdish Fighters-5
Tirbespi
By Rozh
10 Mar 2014

"Zilan", a former school teacher, joined the YPJ in 2013 but mostly runs Kurdish language reading and writing classes for fellow female comrades at the YPJ camp in Tirbespi northeast Syria, March 2014. "I am now fighting for Kurdish rights and teaching a language the Syrian regime denied it existed for so many years. This is a great honor," she said.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syria
Aleppo, Syria
By U.S. Editor
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers, hidden in isolated buildings, necessitate a fast crossing through the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life downtown, still living in their houses, even if the majority have left for the refugee camps at the borders of the country.

MIGs and helicopters of the Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.

Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosives. They release these bombs over the town, anywhere they like. No targets are aimed. They throw them here and there. No one is safe in any shelter. Shelters actually don’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and buildings are very weak. In spite of that, some citizens are still keeping their homes there, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurdish minority which supports the regime. In the middle, the citizens of Halep, try to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such madness.