Page 1

Ahmed Muhammed’s journey to salvation. Journal Entry February 15th, 2011 It was 6 o clock in the morning, I woke up to the sound of my radio. "It is Tuesday, February 15th of 2011." exclaimed the alarm. To my surprise, my wife was not next to me. The window slam right open as the cold air rushes in. I'm too used to that. My clothing was on my bed, well folded. I put them on and walk to the kitchen. The wooden floors squeak as I walk past the kid's bedroom. The TV was open to the Figure 1: the steel factory belongs to the Joudco corporations, the same new one. "As the president of Egypt cooperation’s that owns the factory where Ahmed works at resigns just days ago, the country is ready to face a war," said the announcers just as I turn off the TV. In the middle of the living room was a table, two shawarma’s lies on the table. Across from it was a beautiful girl, my wife. I sat down and finished my meal, then I kissed her goodbye and left for work.

Figure 2: This man in the picture is Mouawiya Syasneh. he was arrest by the government official because he sprays paint his school with antigovernment ideas.

W When I arrived at the Joudco steel plant it was already 8. My back’s still sore from the 1and-a-half-hour ride. My job at the plant is to overlook the heater. 4 of us make sure the heater doesn’t overheat. it was like any other day, we have the radio on and just rest. About 2 hours into the job, we heard a report. “A protest starts in Deraa after a boy was arrest after spraying anti-government graffiti.” “What a poor boy,” said Muhamad, who was one of my co-workers. “what are you talking about!” said Shabazz. “He clearly had it coming!” “He should’ve never spray those things in the first place,” said me, “he clearly deserves it.” My other co-worker decides to side with us which just enraged Muhamad even more. But after an hour of explanation, he finally calms down.

It’s finally 6 o clock and my shift is over. I rode back home thinking about what Mohamed has said, just thinking and thinking…

Journal Entry March 16th, 2014 T he ground shook as we scrambled to the air raid shelter in the city of Latakia. The vault door, an unseemly let safe door. slammed shut as the last of us entered. This has been the 4th time of this week we have to hide in the air raid shelter. The room, pitch black and shaking, is making us scared. "Another American bombing," said one of the sergeant to calm the nerves of some: "they're too scared to fight so they sent their machines to their dirty work." a sign of agreement hymn through the room. We lived to pass 2 rounds of bombing and it was time to go out. 4 hours of continuous bombing made every fighter irritated. Just last month, a private got so disturbed, he went mad and killed himself. Shellshock, that what we call it. “We got new orders.” Said the captain “we are going to Aleppo.” “Isn’t Aleppo full of rebels?” said one of the private. “yes, but we’re going to push them out.” We finally reached the outskirts of Aleppo in the next day. We camped on a mountain that overlooks the city. The ruins of the municipal building stand out from the others. Dozens of platoons have camped on that site since late 2011. After lunch we had a break, I stand on top of the mountain overlooking the ruins they call Aleppo. I still can see the ruins of my house as I remember. It was around this time last year when my wife Figure 3: Even though air raid shelters have changed over the years, they are still in use and child died in the till today bombing. It was also at this point the army offer me a job. “you can avenge your dead.” The officer said. I took it, and now I’m here, back in Aleppo. The next morning, we got our mission from general James, the leader of the siege of Aleppo, we will be the recon squad or the first to die. In the command of the captain, we march into the ruins of Aleppo. The smoke fills our lungs. ` The dust covered our eyes and blinded us. As we diligently walk on Al Maysar street, I heard a noise. "Mon Mothma will reward you handsomely. "said one of them. Mon Mothma, the name that still gives me chills to this day. He is the leader of the rebels. I instantly knew who they were. “Rebels!” I yelled. Bullets start to fly everywhere. Many of my partners fall to the ground. One by one as we’re being slaughter like goats. Finally, the shooting stopped, the smoke cleared. We have killed an entire squad of rebels. We rush back Figure 4: This photo was taken in the city of Aleppo. The fighting has done great damages to the city. why should we continue?

to the camp to inform the army of our discovery and to treat those who died or injured. An airplane flew above our head, straight for the city of Aleppo. Then another, then another. They started dropping bombs like it was raindrops. As the night arrives, the bombing continuous. Finally, the bombing stopped. I close my eyes, ready for tomorrow. Journal Entry February 16th, 2018 It has only been a day since the truce. 30 days of peace with the rebels. The truce was only in play since February 25th and it already seems like the fighting has stopped for years. We still have not captured the leader of the rebellion but that’s not the only bad news. 2 more rebel’s groups have formed over the year, the Kurt resistance and ISIS. The government has shifted most of its forces to stopping those two groups rather than fighting the rebels. We are one of the last platoons still fighting the rebels. Every day we drive into rebel territory with tanks and car, we bomb every building we see, but no rebels are in sight. But to the south, our forces led by general Jamil Hassan have been pushing the rebels back. But ever since the truce, the rebels are fleeing. Many of them went to join the Kurt rebellion, who controls mass land in the north or ISIS, who control land to the east. But today, we are sending small groups of troops into enemy territory to see were their bases lie, using the truce to our advantage. At 1 is on February 26th, every platoon has to send out 5 men to rebel cities in order to find the rebel bases. Fortunately, I was one of the chosen ones. Figure 5: This photo of the snipers represents how the team was ambushed

U Under the cover of darkness, we head into rebel territory. The five of us, crammed into one car, headed full speed to Afrin. We drove for 4 drained hours, we finally reached Afrin. The city was completely emptied, the only thing left standing was a half-broken statue from the iron age temple. Heat scorching, heart racing, the five of us left the car. Adam, the designated diver, left the car to take a piss as the rest of us reckon the area. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a gunshot. Omar, my best friend in the army was dead. Blood drips from the shirt as he falls to the ground. They have broken the truce. We quickly scrambled to around the statue. Another gunshot was heard. Ahmed, our trophy sniper, was hit. He was hit in the stomach. Blood rushes from his belly and painted the dirt around him. We spurt to the car, leaving Ahmed alone. I step the petal as hard as I could as we finally left the city. This is when we realized we have now known the location of the rebel base.

Figure 6: The temple shown hear is the iron age temple in the city of Afrin. After an air raid, the temple was sadly destroyed.

We finally got back to Aleppo. Tried and traumatizes, the three of us got out of the car. We were given the war metal and were treated like heroes. The next day, general Jamil Hassan order an air strike on the city of Afrin, breaking the truce, as I think to myself, was it worth it? And I already have an answer for that, even if I like it or not. It was worth it just to avenge the death of my family. But all of these people are dead, hundreds of thousands of families broken or wiped. But this was all worth it. I could get a huge piece of land after the war where no one will find me. I could earn money or live out the rest of days. As I think more about this glamorous future of mine, I start to lose part of me.