Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

Danin analyzes critical developments and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

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A View From Homs

by Robert M. Danin
June 19, 2012

Damaged buildings are seen in Homs on June 2, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). Damaged buildings are seen in Homs on June 2, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

As the international community debates what, if anything, to do about Syria, the daily bloodshed and carnage there continues. For those just trying to survive, life has become quite brutal. One recent blog post, by Homs resident and blogger “Big Al,” provides a powerful and upsetting description of daily life in his city. Big Al, who tweets under the handle @BigAlBrand, readily agreed for me to share some of his recent observations from his post “Life in Homs” which I include below. The entire blog is available here.

“8:30 AM, I watched the news, got depressed and went back to bed (Since I don’t have a business to go to, because it’s been closed for over a year now, like most other businesses in Homs, but that’s a story for another time). In bed I tried to check my email and twitter but I found out that 3G and GPRS aren’t working. I don’t have ADSL at home so I have no internet connection now. No big deal, I’m used to it. But unlike the previous six days we have fresh water since morning.

12:30 PM, I got up, went out to buy vegetables which can’t be found easily, and as I was walking, I heard noise, and then a security forces’ vehicle passed by, followed by a tank, then a pickup truck with a huge machine gun (Shilka), I then went to a street where there’s more than one store and found most of them closed.

I went inside an open store and started collecting the things I need, only to be interrupted by the same vehicles once again passing right by me, and that’s when I quickly turned my Smartphone’s camera on and filmed the tank passing by without them noticing.

Seconds later, the Shilka started shooting and it was only 5 meters away from me. I was inside the store so I lied down on the floor next to the salesman. The glass shattered and the goods started falling from the shelves on us because the entire place was shaking badly.

Fire paused for a couple of seconds and that allowed us to crawl to another section of the store that has a wall to hide behind and a sink. The Shilka started shooting again and this time three bullets hit the store’s front. We ducked behind the wall waiting for what’s coming next.

At that moment, surprisingly, I wasn’t afraid. I actually felt like it’s the ending of me and was somewhat relieved. As a Homsi, I made peace with death a long time ago.”

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