Life for many in Damascus, Syria is beginning to regain a sense of normalcy. Once besieged by foreign fighters, the ancient city and it’s residents struggle to rebuild their lives, land and livelihood, rejoicing in the simple mundanity of day-to-day life.
Damascus — On prior visits to Damascus, staying in the Old City, the sound of mortars being fired from terrorist-held districts outside of the city was a constant. In recent months, the mortars on Damascus have stopped. Previously, Jebhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army, among other terrorist factions, rained mortars daily on residential areas of Damascus, hitting schools, homes, vehicles and pedestrians, killing and maiming indiscriminately, leaving civilians, including children, with critical injuries and amputations.
With the recent absence of mortars, Damascenes have opened outdoor establishments where before it was formerly too dangerous. Sidewalks cafes and outdoor eateries open at night were unthinkable less than half a year ago, let alone rooftop cafes and lounges. Although Syrians suffer immensely from an economy devastated by war and western sanctions, in Damascus there is a renewed sense of defiance, a refusal to give in, or as a young man in his twenties visiting from Aleppo said: “They have their own war against death by living.”
A snapshot of life in Damascus, June and July 2016:
Feature photo | The croissant stand in Aamarie district of Thomas Gate is known not only to Damascenes but visitors from other areas of Syria. While prices for most goods have risen all across Syria, the stand keeps its prices low: 125 Syrian pounds per sumptuous croissant. On the first day of ‘Eid celebrations, the stand is packed. Vanessa Beeley | MintPress News
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza. She tweets at @EvaKBartlett