March 13, 2013
by Jerome Sessini
When i come back from each trip, I am often asked what a warring city looks like. In this case, this relates to Aleppo. I feel a certain attraction for some cityscapes which have been transformed by war. Eagerness and stress which are specific to cities disappear, giving place to silence and lethargy. The heartbeat of the city slows down.
Paradoxically, I believe that I am much more alert and curious in a ravaged city. More aware of its charm when it is bruised, lacerate, crippled by the weapons. According to Syrian rebels, 70% of Aleppo’s territory is under control of FSA. This information can either be verified or visualized, since it's impossible to cross to “the other side”, the area controlled by the Syrian army. This unreachable elsewhere, that can be stealthily glimpsed through holes used as arrow slits by FSA’s snipers, haunted my soul throughout my trip in Aleppo. The fact of being unable to reach it, stimulated my imaginaiton.
This obscurity is complete on both sides. Since I ignore all about life beyond the front lines, do Aleppins have an idea of what is happening in the liberated Aleppo?
I went to the six fronts of Aleppo: Bustan Al Bacha, Bustan Al Qasr, Salah al Din, Al Amria, Cheick Said and the old city. In these areas, destruction is the most impressive. The buildings on the front lines give the feeling to rot on the stalk. They are empty.
Rebels and Syrian fighters scrutinize each other through the ruins, sometimes they talk to each other, they insulte each other, they blame each other for fighting for an evil cause and killing their own brothers. Since my last stay in October, the intensity of the fighting has decreased.
It is a war of attrition, a tactical struggle for position. Rebels sometimes launch an attack to move forwards, but the situation remains rather static. Considering the lack of rebels’ military assets, one could asked himself if Syrian army is totally inefficient, or demotivated, maybe both; it also might be a regime's strategy of attrition of the rebels and rot and devastation of the situation in order to win Aleppo’s battle.