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1-Trip starts w standard car ride from Beirut to #Damascus. Capital feels v safe. During dinner, sound of artillery. No one flinches but me
2-Next day is spent with friends. Conversations ranged from discussing the #Syrian war to discussing the Syrian war.
3-Ride to #Aleppo is planned for 7:30 am start. I Am reminded that the old Damascus/Aleppo highway is only operable up to Homs
4-I request that we pass through city of Homs rather than follow highway around it. Wish I didn’t. Nothing prepares your eyes or stomach
5-Main street running through #Homs feels like Ghost town with so much destruction. We pass by square that saw bulk of early demonstrations
6-Soon upon leaving #Homs, old highway is blocked as we approach Talbiseh & Rastan. Cars must now make a right turn into Eastern #Syria
7-Without this Road that leads all the way to Raqqa, Aleppo would have been lost to the Opp. Arguably, this 1 road may have settled this war
8-Size of #Syria becomes evident as you travel on what seems like an endless desert East. #ISIS had made this road its home for years
9-It was Tiger forces who took back what was this military road and used it to as the artery that would later help break siege of #Aleppo
10-Even today, few dare travel on it after sunset. The road is still dangerous even for those who lived through the whole war
11-Finally, we reach Sfireh/Khanaser where we turn left away from Raqqa & towards Aleppo. Road is busy with Trucks carrying supplies
12-Road still seems endless but we are now finally on outskirts of #Aleppo approaching city center from the airport’s direction
13-Before the war, hardly any #Aleppo residents had travelled through this area. They all grew with the old Damascus-Aleppo highway west
14-As we enter the Armenian area of Midan, the destruction hits you in the stomach. Kurdish flags are seen right across from SAA checkpoint
15-Next morning, childhood friends offer to drive me through whole city. We enter neighborhoods where few civilians have gone before.
16-NOTHING prepares you for what see in four straight hours of driving. We pass by my old primary school in old city. It doesn’t exist. Gone
17-Through next 3 days, it’s an emotional roller coaster. Optimism about the future followed by extreme pessimism and back to circle again
18-Friends & family who stayed through the war think of #Aleppo now as #Geneva when they compare it to 2012-2016 period that they call hell
19-Bulk of the destruction is undoubtedly in Eastern part whose citizens had supposedly long left to either #Turkey or other parts of city
20-How does it play out? Will reconstruction start anytime soon? Most Residents are optimistic. Feels more like hope than anything tangible
21-Most widely discussed subject was however not reconstruction but the military draft and the chance to be called into reserves.
22-People are clearly tired of death & blood. They’ve had enough. They want their sons home. They want to start picking up the pieces
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