Photojournalist Fared al Mahlool took these photos of Idlib over the eve and morning of Eid. They show that the battered province is a safe haven mainly for men, women, and children, who take the same joy in new clothes, good food, carnival-rides, and candy as we all do. Their smiles are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Syrians are caught between the overt violence of barrel bombs and covert killing through hunger and enforced privation. Syria has exposed the fragility of international norms. Words have not alleviated its people’s suffering. Only action can give meaning to the words.
Thousands of Syrians have fought as mercenaries in Libya, Azerbaijan, and possibly elsewhere, on both Russia and Turkey’s behalf. Dozens have been killed, and hundreds have come back after their contractual deployments, but none return to the life they left behind.
Documents and pictures, made public in English by Newlines for the first time, that indicate Qardash was in fact a leading figure among Iraqi jihadist groups over the past two decades who has steadily worked his way up the security and religious hierarchy within the Islamic State group.
Studying Arabic in Syria gave one student a first-hand perspective on the tensions and grievances of living in the country. But he could never have predicted how rapidly early protests would give way to a civil war.
He was not a jihadist, although he’d been called one when convenient. When he joined “the Kurds,” he automatically became a “fighter for women’s empowerment and the rights of the dispossessed Kurds.” He was neither. And neither are so many other Syrian Arabs from the eastern part of the country.
My dear Idlib, how I wish for you to go back to being forgotten and ours again. Until then, we’ll always have your accent in our world, your olive oil in our cells, your trees etched in our memories. And most importantly, “wlad al-balad” to count on wherever we go.