Michael Weiss reports: “When I’m sitting here and we hear a plane, which is a lot now, I know from the sound. If the plane is above us—you can tell if it’s above you, because that’s when it’s the loudest—and if it’s a Russian plane, then it doesn’t attack where we are. It attacks two or three kilometers away.”
Rami Jarrah is telling me how he distinguishes which government is now bombing civilians in Syria’s Aleppo City. It’s a question that used to answer itself—but no more, given the presence of Syrian, Russian, and coalition aircraft in the skies. Syrian jets, he says, once flew so low that you could actually see the pilots in the cockpits; Russian fixed-wing aircraft fly at much higher altitudes such that they look like crosses or plus-signs in the clouds. They fire from far away, the better to evade the bullets of the Dushka (the name means “sweetie” in Russian), a Soviet-era antiaircraft machine gun, which is typically all anti-Assad rebels have to deter helicopters and attack jets, sometimes successfully.
Jarrah lives in the war-ravaged provincial capital of Syria’s industrial province, documenting the gruesomeness of multisided civil war for his open source newsgathering service ANA Press. Born in Cyprus and educated in London, he first became famous in 2011 as an English-speaking eyewitness on Western TV channels to what was then still a peaceful protest movement against a Ba’athist dictatorship. He used to call himself Alexander Page, a pseudonym he doesn’t need anymore because what good is a pseudonym against one of Putin’s jets? [Continue reading…]