journey to the end of aleppo

words francsesca borri & images stanley greene 

It sounds like a jet approaching, and all of you, for a matter of instants, stare at one another, your words stifled in your mouths; but it's only a gate that slides and shuts. A hatchet chopping firewood is a burst from a kalashnikov; the step of a woman's heel, a sniper shot. We look normal, in Aleppo. Fear is a cancer that wears us out only from within.

One year and a half after the beginning of the battle, only one thing hasn't changed here: Assad jets are so inaccurate that they never bomb the front line—they might miss the rebels, and hit the loyalists. And if the favorite target had once been Shifa Hospital, now that its walls are reduced to dust, its medical staff to bouquets of flowers and framed photos, the most dangerous places are the bread lines. Today, they are made up of only women and children. Two hundred, competing for a bunch of boxes with some olive oil, some rice, chickpeas. Sugar. They are missing fingers, missing ears; their eyes are red and wrinkled, and amid the wind needles of this winter's remains, they are haggard and emaciated. They are barely covered in threadbare shirts and little else, their bones sculpting their skin like a bas-relief. Mothers notice you, notice a stranger, and try to give you their baby: Take him with you, they beg. Save him.

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