April 2, 2013
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Our great friend John Wreford is sticking it out in Damascus for the time being, it is his home and has been for 10 years. To many his reluctance to leave would seem to be verging on the insane but John is a man of great fortitude. When I had the chance to travel with him through Syria in 2009 I found that everywhere we went he was greeted like a brother. People would stop him in the streets to say hello and embrace him, hotels we stayed at refused to take payment treating him like family, it didn’t seem to matter where we were there was someone who knew him. I guess that is why he is still there. This piece he has written for Roads and Kingdoms, here are the opening passages…
All photos by John Wreford
Damascenes have long told themselves that their city is where all journeys, all religions and all civilisations begin and end. We who live there now also know that Damascus will be where the final battle for control of Syria will be fought.
Rebel forces are gathered just a few kilometers from the stone walls of the Old City, and inside the walls for almost a year now we have lived with the terrifying sounds of war, the scream of fighter jets, gun battles raging and shells flying overhead. War on our doorstep.
For me the only journeys I ever take these days are around the souks and alleyways of my neighborhood. On these walks I am not only trying to get a sense of the situation, but also a bit of the reassurance that comes from seeing the market busy with shoppers and children heading off to school. I drop in on friends and get updates on the crisis. Often it’s only gossip and rumor, but there are few other reliable sources of information. I check to see what food is in the market and at what price, as there have been days when fresh food and bread have been scarce. Those are the things on my mind as I slam the heavy metal door of my house and head out into the warren of passageways tucked in a corner of the Old City between the ancient gates of Bab Touma and Bab Salam.
Outside my door all is quiet. The street cleaner has collected the rubbish and the cats have retired for a morning nap in the shade of satellite dishes on the wonky roofs. A hose pipe peeks out from behind a door and a woman sprays water over the dusty cobbles. The alley here is no wider than an arm’s length. It doglegs a couple of times, ambles down a few stone steps and underneath an archway, past a small local mosque with a pretty courtyard dotted with potted plants. Despite most of the neighborhood being Muslim, few seem to visit this Mosque. Another couple of steps and another arch and then I see the first sign that life here is not as it used to be: there’s a checkpoint, not military but civilian…..MORE
October 15, 2012
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From the always excellent photo blog at The Denver Post, 20 images to make you think and to marvel at the talent of the photographers, go here to see the whole series
An Afghan refugee girl stands next to her family’s sheep in a field next to a slum area on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Christian pilgrims take part in a group baptism in the waters of the Jordan River on October 3, 2012 at Yardenit in northern Israel. An estimated 100,000 Christian worshippers make their pilgrimage to the Holy Land each year and one of their most sacred rituals is being immersed in the biblical river where, according to Christian beliefs, Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
Smoke rises over Saif Al Dawla district in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. The U.N.’s deputy secretary-general says U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon made a strong appeal to Syria’s foreign minister to stop using heavy weapons against civilians and reduce the violence that is killing 100 to 200 people every day.(AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)
A Syrian man cries outside the Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, Syria after his daughter was injured during a Syrian Air Force strike over a school where hundreds of refugees had taken shelter Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. The border violence between Turkey and Syria has added a dangerous new dimension to Syria’s civil war, dragging Syria’s neighbors deeper into a conflict that activists say has already killed 30,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March 2011. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)
See the rest here
March 23, 2012
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Another really great set of pictures collected by The Denver Post for their pblog series.
I was very pleased to see my friend and photographer John Wreford recently returned from Damascus. He lives there, has for a number of years, knows the country well, so his understanding of what was happening offered another perspective. The warm, friendly, generous Syrian people are suffering, dying and the world stands by and does nothing.
“(AP) Fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and members of the Free Syrian Army continue in Syria. The U.N. estimates that Syria’s crackdown has killed more than 7,500 people so far. The killings add to the pressure on U.N. Security Council members who are meeting to decide what to do next to stop the violence. The international community’s current effort—a peacemaking mission by Annan—is faltering, with both the Syrian government and the opposition refusing to talk to one another.”
Syria launched a long-anticipated assault to crush the opposition in the rebellious north, bombarding its main city with tank shells from all sides and clashing with rebel fighters struggling to hold back an invasion.
President Bashar Assad rejected any immediate negotiations with the opposition, striking a further blow to already staggering international efforts for talks to end the conflict. Assad told U.N. envoy Kofi Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as “terrorist groups” threaten the country.
Ahmed, center, mourns his father Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper, during his funeral in Idlib, north Syria, Thursday, March 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #
Members of the Free Syrian Army in Idlib Prvoince, Syria, February, 2012. The Free Syrian ArmyÅs strength lies inside the towns. The regular Syrian Army, which has proved to be unreliable and is already stretched thin, is reluctant to storm the towns and consolidate control. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #
Armed only with rifles and homemade bombs, members of the Free Syrian Army attack a column of Syrian Army Tanks in Saraqib, in Idlib Province, Syria, Feb. 15, 2012. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #
A fighter with the Free Syrian Army, the armed opposition group made up largely of defectors from the Syrian military, attacks a column of Syrian Army Tanks in Saraqib, in Idlib Province, Syria, Feb. 15, 2012. The armed opposition in Syria is led by the underequipped Free Syrian Army. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #
SEE MORE HERE