My (unusual) summer in Aleppo, Syria


Palace of the Aleppo Citadel Aleppo Syria
Source: Wikimedia Commons

(Editor’s note: Spinnaker Digital is aware of the writer’s identity but has chosen to keep them anonymous for safety reasons.)

If ever there was a perfect place to call home, this place would be Aleppo, Syria.

I have been traveling to Syria for almost 20 years. Year by year, Syria always remains the same: a family-oriented, safe, caring and friendly environment. However, my most recent trip to the country this summer was something no amount of news stations, articles, and gossip could prepare me for.

Aleppo used to be the city that never slept. At 2 a.m., you could always find people safely walking the streets.

This year, however, even during the day, the cars that roam the streets of Aleppo are countable.

For one, gas is becoming increasingly scarce. It may take days or even weeks at times for tanks of gas to arrive into Aleppo. During this time, the people are left with absolutely no gas to spare.

Even when gas begins to be imported into Aleppo’s few gas stations, filling up a tank is not an easy task. People are often forced to wait anywhere from three to ten hours only to find out that after this wait, there is no more gas left. They are forced to wait until the next arrival. Beyond this, there have been shootings at several gas stations involving disputes over gas.

Another reason for Aleppo’s scarce streets is fear. It is very common to hear that a man, child, or woman has been kidnapped. The families of those kidnapped are forced to pay a large amount of money in exchange for their family member’s life.

Starting at around 8 p.m., one begins to hear loud and aggressive noises. These noises continue all throughout the night. These sounds I am referring to are the sounds of bombs, gunshots, and rockets. Some days, I could look out the window and see bombs in the air. Seconds later, I would hear a loud, mind-blowing noise. This is the sound of destruction, death, and ruin.

By the time I had left Aleppo, these noises became so familiar I would barely flinch at the sounds of them. I was able to differentiate the sound of a bomb, gunshot, or rocket. Each one had its one effect. Each one has left thousands of people dead, injured, and homeless.

The last Sunday I was in Aleppo, I was in the car and stopped at a red light. I browsed around my surroundings and noticed a young boy, no more than five years of age, asleep in the grass in the scorching hot sun. I do not know his story but I began to imagine what his situation might be. Maybe his home at been destroyed and the boy remains without a place of comfort to go to. Maybe his family was killed and he has no one to turn to.

As I drove past this boy wondering what his situation might be, I felt a feeling of appreciation thrust upon me. There was no gas for me to get to place to place but others do not have a place to go to. There is often no electricity and no water but there are many without a home to worry about such things.

I could not sleep the night from the sounds of bombs, gunshots, and rockets but it was neither my home being destroyed nor my family members being killed. While I had felt like my lifestyle in Aleppo was unfair, my sufferings prove to be nothing next to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are left with nothing.