Conversations: A Road Trip to Idleb

Syria Deeply  –  December 05, 2012

As part of our effort to highlight civilian stories, below is a conversation between Syria Deeply and a Syrian university student. She’s from a conservative Sunni family in Aleppo.  She hopes to leave the country, but first had to get a passport from her family’s registered home address in Idleb. She told us her observations about the road between Aleppo and Idleb.

The driver took us to Idleb from all the “liberated” villages. We passed from a village called Kafar Halab, which has a big hill nearby. The landscapes there were amazingly beautiful. I want to buy a house there after the revolution…

There was graffiti everywhere we passed through. Some of the writings support the regime and others are supporting the opposition. Each one of them tries to erase the other one and write in its place. It is very childish. You can never trust anyone of them.

I saw the shamsin bread factory on my way and there was an unbelievable crowd in front of it. There were thousands of people fighting and pushing each other for bread. Then I saw the Magic Land restaurant complex. It has a billboard, that now reads “We are a nation whom Allah gave the pride of Islam”.

We passed from a Free Syrian Army checkpoint, and then we reach the Icarda intersection, where was located al-Nusra Front Islamic jihadist group’s checkpoint. Surprisingly, they were nice to us. Perhaps they saw my hijab and modest clothing and they respected that. We passed from Binnish and Taftanaz, both are targets of heavy aerial bombardments, however, life is still normal there and people seem not bothered at all from living under shelling. They are insisting on not leaving their homes. Some university student girls from Binnish joined our vehicle and told their stories of how they are going to Idleb everyday for their lectures, fearing all the way that a shell, a barrel or a car bomb will take their lives…

Finally we reached Idleb, but my passport wasn’t ready yet. I wandered around and had a tea near the souk. They have a nice souk (covered market), which is exactly a smaller copy of our old souk in Aleppo. There were a lot of people and life was bustling there, just like it used to be in Aleppo before the big fire in the old city and the historic souk two months ago. I bought a Derby chips (a very famous Syrian produced potato chips) and the seller started to chat with me when he heard my Aleppo accent.

He asked me about the situation in Aleppo and I replied that it is still not good. He replied saying that when they were being shelled in Idleb we were making barbeques and eating kebab in Aleppo! I got mad and left the place.

I bought some bread from there to bring it home with me, because there is no bread in Aleppo. Before, we used to bring home sweets and other luxuries from our trips, but now a piece of bread is more valued than anything else… I hold the bread with both hands the entire road as if it is a treasure. On my way back to Aleppo, in the front seat of the bus there was very obsequious man, who used to greet every checkpoint we were stopped by. He sucked up to them whether if they were army or rebel checkpoints.

We reached Saraqeb, which is perhaps the most bombarded town in all of Syria. If not all houses are destroyed then they are half destroyed. We saw a shepherd with his sheep in the beautiful nature near the town. I saw a lot of people who had lost their young sons and children, their relatives, but somehow they were still hopeful [things would get better].

I cannot say how my heart was tearing apart on the road every time I saw these people and our beautiful country burning everywhere. I am sick of all the propaganda, applauses, analysis, and everything from both sides. What I saw on the road was enough for me.

This people want to live!

Visit Syria Deeply for more conversations on Syria.

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