Even when I’m not “looking” for stories to share from Syrians, they come to me. Sitting at the sea, a young man a few metres away began talking with me after he saw my Syria wrist-band. I asked a few general questions, and then he let loose on the hell that is life in Halab (Aleppo) with the foreign insurgents. He did so in the same mournful voice that others I’ve met here and in Syria have had, again without the bitterness and anger you’d expect from people suffering so greatly under this manufactured crisis filled with its unending, ghastly atrocities.
With his okay, I recorded our conversation (it’s in Arabic, so will take a bit for me to type out or post the audio), and as with others I’ve met here he said “but no photos, my family is still in Halab, the terrorists would kill them.”
He also said what virtually every other Syrian I’ve met has said: “You should have seen Syria before, it was the most beautiful place, the safest place.”
As we parted, he told me “I needed to tell you these things; I’ve been carrying them around inside me. I have worse things to tell you, but I can’t bring myself to talk about them.”
[I find many parallels between the suffering of Palestinians and of Syrians…(and surely other oppressed/invaded/colonized…but I’m speaking from my own experiences) In both cases, the corporate media distorts the reality and blames the victims. In both cases the people are amazingly gracious and loving. In both cases, they are suffering untold horrors and, in general, keep it to themselves, never get a chance to speak of their sorrows. And in both cases, they have spoken openly and honestly to me, when they see I am willing to listen, because they need to speak of their suffering and they wish that the outside world understood the truth.]
The latest re Aleppo and surrounding areas is that Turkey has cut off the flow of the Euphrates River, “threatening primarily Syria but also Iraq with a major water crisis, ” Al-Akhbar reported.
…the water level in Lake Assad has dropped by about six meters, leaving millions of Syrians without drinking water. [ Eupherates of Syria Cut Off by Turkey ]
Violating international norms, the Turkish government recently cut off the water supply of the Euphrates River completely. In fact, Ankara began to gradually reduce pumping Euphrates water about a month and half ago, then cut if off completely two weeks ago…
…In Raqqa, the northern side of Lake Assad is today completely out of service. Two million Syrians living in the region covering the villages of Little Swaydiya to the east until al-Jarniya to the west could lose their drinking water supply.
On a more positive note, mass rallies in Aleppo for the upcoming elections [FB photo]
Most I’ve met here, despite carrying terrible stories within their memories and hearts still have that whimsical, always-ready-to-laugh nature about them.
Ismail, a 14 year old working in a shop I ducked into one morning, was polite and hard-working, but I couldn’t get him to crack a smile. He’s also from Aleppo.
Khaled, a young teen from Deir Ezzor, was likewise polite but with a face older than his years. A teen near his age was recently executed by ISIL, point-blank shot to the head, accused of having stolen something.
The other morning I went to a Beirut hotel to meet up with North Americans participating in an international delegation to observe elections.
We chatted, they left for Syria (I hope to follow soon!), and I began making my way back to Hamra. Flagging down a taxi I assumed was a servis, the driver nodded “no” to my question “Cola?” (a main traffic hub). But the family inside said to hop in.
The older woman with some tattooing on her face asked where I was from. Her pleasant looking son replied, “we are from Syria” (no surprise nowadays). From Hasaka, near the border with Iraq.
“Ana Kurdi, (I’m Kurdish)” she said. She said they fled 6 months ago, “Daash mawjud (ISIS is there).”
I asked if they had voted. Emphatic “yes”es all around. For who? “Bashar!”
In typical Syrian fashion the young man paid my fare, no contesting him on that.
Kurdish areas of Syria are in the news recently for the killing of at least 15 Kurds in the province of Hasaka, where my taxi companions were from.
An al Qaeda renegade group killed 15 Kurdish people, seven of them children, in an attack on a village in northern Syria….The attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which was disowned by al Qaeda’s central command earlier this year, occurred during a six-month-old ISIL offensive against Syrian Kurds and various rebel groups…
…the attack took place on Thursday near the Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain after militants stormed a village.
Ras al-Ain, 600 km (375 miles) from Damascus, is part of Syria’s northeastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, home to many of the million-strong Syrian Kurdish minority.
In one Reuters photograph, six bodies could be seen, including three young boys. A middle-aged woman held one of the bodies.
On the same day in a different Kurdish town, Press TV reported on the kidnapping of nearly 200 Kurds:
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday that ISIL members abducted at least 193 Kurdish civilians, aged from 17 to 70 years, from the town of Qabasin on Thursday.”
The report goes on to cite earlier ISIL kidnappings in Kurdish areas, noting also that in July 2013, “ISIL kidnapped some 200 Kurdish civilians from the towns of Tell Aran and Tal Hasel also in Aleppo province. Only a few of those hostages have reportedly been released.
I stopped into a veg shop, forgetting that among all the conversations with Syrians I’ve been having in Lebanon, the man and boy in the shop are also Syrian and we’d discussed my prized possession: the misbaha (prayer beads) given to me by Syria’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, which I wear around my wrist. I’d told the man they were a gift, and he’d lit up: he is from Halab, as is Dr. Hassoun. [“They want to start a religious war; we want to extinguish it” – Mufti of Syria]
The man got to talking about the essence of humanity: love. He waxed poetic for quite a while, repeating that we just need to view one another as humans and treat one another with love.
…If only this simple message was lived world-wide. If only our political “representatives” were capable of this.
The boy with his shining smile told me to drop the cucs I was bagging and come outside to the better ones.
Walked into a supermarket which I forgot I’d been to (I tend to wander and weave the streets; approached this one from a different direction). Hearing a gentle voice speaking to customers I thought, he’s probably Syrian. When I got to the counter I realized he was Abu Mohammed, the new Sweida friend I’d met some days ago, who’d insisted on serving me coffee.
“Hi Ava (Eva, Ava, I like both renditions), I read many things on your blog… what you wrote about Gaza and now about Syria. You wrote the truth about us! Thank you! We want people to know we are not like what the TV says about us.”
He unsurprisingly couldn’t help but offer me something: juice? coffee?
“In other areas where the government controls, we see that people are returning. Given that the recent events about elections in foreign countries, and millions of Syrians turning up, showing support to the President and the government, is there any change in the United Nations and specifically the SG with regard to the government and the President of Syria?”
“the Secretary-General’s position is unchanged.”