On the ground in Syria: Bloodshed, misery and hope

The New York Times reports: On the edge of Aleppo’s ancient citadel, Zahra and her family squatted in a once-grand apartment, now facing rebel lines. Plastic sheets covered its tall windows to shield the space from a sniper’s view; shelling boomed in the distance.

Zahra, 25, who gave just one name, flicked between two photos on her phone. The first showed her husband, a Syrian Army soldier and the father of her unborn child. “Seven months,” she said, touching her belly.

In the second, her husband was splayed on the ground, blood trickling from his nose. Two other fallen soldiers lay beside him. He died two weeks ago.

“May the men who did this also die,” she said with quiet determination.

Four years of war has hardened hearts in Aleppo, a divided city and, for the past week, the scene of merciless fighting.

A fragile truce, brokered by the United States and Russia, has crumbled in Syria, leading to the worst violence in months. Russian fighter jets roar through the sky, pounding targets in rebel-held areas. The rebels send barrages of mortar rounds and homemade missiles that land in crowded neighborhoods. The war has stoked sectarian tensions and become a proxy battle for regional and global interests. [Continue reading…]

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