By the end of March I didn’t want to write anymore as I felt like I’ve been writing the same things over and over again. The situation in Homs didn’t change for two months and every day is the same. A vicious circle of shelling, shooting, arresting, and chasing has been controlling us all for a long time and especially since early February.
The lack of communications, electricity, and water has become a usual matter and we got used to it. That’s why I didn’t write anything on April 1st and 2nd, even though they were two very scary days for most people in Homs, but then came today, April 3rd.
Today was the first day of the eight days Annan gave Syria to stop all types of violence, but seems like the regime misunderstood what Annan is trying to do as their attacks spread to new areas, and that’s why I have decided to write again, as for the first time ever, I was able to see buildings being hit directly without leaving my house.
The sounds of shelling and shooting were like any other day, but when I went out to the balcony around noon I was surprised with the view. At first, I saw black smoke coming out of a building not far away from my house, and it kept going for a while. I made some calls and found out that a diesel container was hit and that caused the container to explode, but no one was physically hurt.
Less than 30 minutes later I looked outside my window and saw yet a different view, so I went to the balcony to get a better look. White and black smoke clouds were in the sky, and many more were being created every time a missile hits a building.
I left the house and got a little closer and I was able to see the missiles hitting the buildings and the smoke coming out.
I went back home and kept watching this monstrosity for a while. I saw my city being destroyed. I saw civilians running away carrying nothing.
I called people in Qusoor and they told me that they can’t count all the buildings that have been hit for there was a new missile every few seconds.
I saw that Assad’s artillery is about a kilometer away from my house, and that’s when I understood why many of my neighbors left the building a couple of days ago. In fact, I know many families who left my neighborhood in the past two weeks, but I still refuse to.
I’ve always said that I prefer getting killed than leaving my house and becoming a refugee, and I might prove this very soon. I won’t leave my house to anyone. I live or die here. I know I’m not being smart with this decision, but that’s who I am. I know my rights as a human being, and I will take them or die fighting for them.
Cellphones have been working since last night, but only Syriatel allowed me to go online via GPRS, and that’s why I had to ask my friends in Damascus to buy me Syriatel credits. I didn’t buy much since the company is owned by Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf, who is the greatest thief in Syria and probably the entire Middle East.
I was able to send a few tweets and check some emails before I was out of credits again. I couldn’t send any pictures, or upload any videos and that made me very mad since I didn’t hear anything or see anything about what’s going on in the news. I could’ve streamed live footage if my 3G is working.
A cheesy thought came to my mind since we’re in April. The Syrian regime decided to fool Kofi Annan and the rest of the world by accepting to ceasefire on April 1st. This is the greatest April fool’s of all time. Assad will call the Security Council on the 12th and be like “I GOT YOU! OH I GOT YOU GOOD!” and they’ll laugh and forget about us forever.
Back to reality, I decided to go to bed early as I was suffering from the worst backache I’ve ever had in my life, and I have no idea why. But of course things didn’t go as planned. They never do, right? I had to get up and leave my bedroom when some security forces members decided to come to my street and start shooting like maniacs at nothing.
News channels showed footage of a sniper murdering people in Damascus with his friends cheering for him; they were all soldiers in the Syrian military. The video was horrible, but then they showed an even worse video that shows Assad’s forces stepping on the bodies of those who they killed, they were laughing and cheering while kicking the corpses of those civilians. That’s when I imagined a friend of mine who was murdered by a sniper on April 2nd near Dablan Street in Homs. I hope they didn’t mess with his body after they killed him. RIP Rami Safwi. He was a good guy.
By the end of this day I recalled the first three days of March and the first three days of February, and figured how things are still getting worse.
April 4th, I woke up at 6 and snoozed till 7 AM, and since it was a quiet morning (compared to the previous 3 days) I decided to go out and buy some bread. Of course there was a huge line of people when I arrived at the bakery around 7:15, so I only bought a little to avoid standing in line for hours. On my way home and exactly at 7:35 the shooting began in Qusoor and Karabis areas, and then the shelling started.
Ten minutes before 8 things started to get worse quickly as the shelling sounds became unbelievably rapid and loud and they were accompanied by nonstop shooting that kept going till 8:30. Things slowed down after that for a while but the shelling was continued around noon.
Water was cut off the neighborhood since last night, but electricity and cellphones are working.
At six O’clock PM the shelling sounds got louder and closer, and then a missile of some sort hit a street near my house where people usually go shopping. Many were seriously injured and some died including one of my relatives. I went out to the balcony right after the explosion took place and saw young men carrying an injured child to a neighbor’s house to help him. I wish I was a doctor so I can help, but there’s nothing I can offer to help that poor kid and that made me feel terrible.
People told us that my relative who died was standing very close to where the missile hit, and that caused his organs to be separated and scattered all over the street. He was only buying food.
Those young men who helped the child and others were unarmed civilians; they stayed on the street afterwards in case somebody needs their help.
This was the first time the Syrian regime targets Ghouta area with heavy artillery. We did lose many people in this neighborhood since Security Forces used to come and shoot at demonstrations all the time, and of course we shouldn’t forget the snipers, but this was new.
I have to mention that my neighborhood doesn’t have any members of the Free Syrian Army and that people who live here aren’t armed and I doubt that anyone owns a gun. That’s why Ghouta was considered one of the safest areas in Homs, and it turned into a place where people come to buy food and supplies. It is considered one of the “good” neighborhoods in Homs as the value of property here is really high and not many people can afford to live here. Ghouta, Hamra, and Inshaat are probably the three most expensive neighborhoods in Homs, and that’s why the FSA didn’t get involved in them like the rest of the city, of course with the exception of Inshaat since it’s very close to Baba Amr.
Anyway, the shelling on Ghouta didn’t stop, but the streets were emptied moments after the first explosion and that helped reduce the numbers of the casualties.
News about missiles hitting different buildings in Ghouta, and Al Farooq mosque, but I didn’t go check that out myself as my parents were a bit panicked and they needed me to stay with them.
I received many calls telling me to leave Ghouta and head to Inshaat or Waar or Midan since my family has houses in those areas, but we decided not to move yet. I personally don’t want to leave my house no matter what, but I shouldn’t forget about my family. They need to be some place safe, and that’s why I made a plan. I collected all the important things we have in two bags and got my family ready to move if my street got targeted. I hope that we won’t get forced to leave, but my family’s lives are a top priority to me.
At 8 PM I saw many families leaving my street, they packed their bags and left.
Cellphones stopped working around 9 PM, and it wasn’t a surprise to me or to anyone.
Shelling and shooting kept going all night in many areas but my neighborhood didn’t see much action after 10 PM.
April 5th started like the four previous days, shelling and shooting from many areas started around 6 AM and kept getting closer and louder every hour.
11:30 AM, a taxi rushed into my street and a woman started yelling and crying out loud, and that drew the attention of everyone around including me. A blooded man was taken out of the taxi and a man with a car volunteered to take him to a hospital immediately, so he was moved into the other car which ran quickly with him aboard. I don’t know the name of that man but I know that he’s probably dead now since he was shot in his neck or head as I saw, and the upper half of his body was all covered in his blood.
And since hospitals are being monitored by security forces that would kidnap the injured people, most of the injuries get treated in houses or mosques with primitive equipments, and that’s why most of the seriously injured people die.
After this incident, I saw more families leaving the neighborhood, my building included. Phone calls kept coming asking us to head to Damascus or other areas in Homs, but the situation in most neighborhoods in Homs is similar to ours, as there is no safe street in the city anymore.
Our bags were ready, but none of us wants to leave, especially me. I tried to convince my family to move and leave me here to “take care of the house” but they didn’t buy it.
The Syrian regime said that they’ve started taking their artillery off the cities’ streets. It’s amazing how someone can be this deceiving. Every time they say they’re doing something positive, the exact opposite was being done in reality. I haven’t heard or seen this much shooting and shelling in my life, and the past four days were the worst ones we’ve ever experienced, yet they’re saying that things are getting better and that their forces are leaving.
2012 is a very strange year so far, as every month I say to myself that it’s the worst month ever, then a new month stars and it’s even worse than the one that finished. February was much worse than January, and March was even worse than February, and now I see that April is much worse than March. If things kept going like this, I doubt that I’ll see May.
I left the house around 3 PM and walked around Ghouta and Hamra then visited a friend’s house, and of course he showed me his bullets collection and the holes they left in the house’s walls. We swapped stories from the past two days, and on my way back I saw huge black smoke clouds coming from Al Qusoor area and they were bigger than the ones I saw yesterday. I found an open store and bought some fresh fruits and vegetables in case we get stuck at the house for a while.
The rest of the night was quiet in my area but not in the entire city.
April 6th, as it’s a Friday, security forces did like they do every Friday, occupy the streets and shoot randomly to scare people from even going to the mosques. The shooting and shelling gets increases by the time people leave the mosques so they won’t go in a demonstration.
Around 4 PM, a woman came to our house and said that she’s stuck in my street and can’t go home, she was with a son of hers, and she knew my mother. We let them in, and they told us their story. This woman had two sons, the elder one was killed four days ago in Qusoor, and no one could get close to his body for three whole days, but people in Khaldieh called her yesterday after they were able to get the body off the street, and that they’ll burry him today. She went with her other son at noon to Khaldieh and waited a long time to see him and say goodbye, but she couldn’t as there were many casualties arriving to where she was waiting and security forces didn’t allow the dead bodies to be taken to the cemetery and be buried.
She spent six hours watching dead bodies and limbs waiting for her son’s. Those who retrieved her son’s body came by and told her that they had to bury him yesterday since the body wasn’t in a good shape after being left on the street for three days and that only crushed her more as she couldn’t say goodbye. I believe they did the best for her not letting her see him like that, because I wouldn’t want my mother see me in that shape if I get killed. I would want my mother to remember me as I am now, because the last Image of someone lives in those who see it forever. Now this woman will always remember her son alive and well, not killed and rotten.
We brought them some food and as they were eating they told us that they haven’t had anything to eat in two days. They found a taxi to take them to their house after a while and left.
What we’ve been through is nothing compared to that woman’s story, and her story is nothing compared to other stories we’ve been hearing or seeing.
My mother was very affected by what the woman told us, she cried a lot and got very depressed. And after the woman and her son left, my mother couldn’t think of anything else, and so did I.
We could only hear gunshots every now and then in my area after that, but the sounds of shelling from other areas kept on coming till midnight.
April 7th, the number of casualties in Syria this day was the biggest in April so far, and as we’re getting closer to the date which the government agreed upon to stop the violence, violence was increasing and the attacks are getting worse.
It was difficult to do anything around noon because the shelling and shooting sounds were horrifying and they kept most of us inside.
At night, the shelling sounds were gone, and it was quiet, but suddenly someone started shooting in my street and a man was hit. People ran out to help but they couldn’t get close to him as the shooting continued for a couple of minutes. The shooter then left and some men and a woman (A relative of the injured man) were able to put him in a car and drive off to give him medical care.
A few minutes after they left, the armed man was back shooting every few minutes at random targets, but the streets were completely empty so I doubt that anyone was hurt.
April 8th, we’re having a problem with water as we only got four hours of fresh water in the past four days, and it’s getting worse as it’s starting to feel like summer in here in the past week or so.
The usual shelling was heard clearly in many areas in Homs, and the black smoke clouds that we’ve been seeing since April started are shown as well, and that means Qusoor and Jorat Al Shaiyah are still being targeted.
The Syrian regime started working against Annan’s plan and put obstacles to ruin his mission, but then again we all saw that coming. This is how this regime works. They say something and do the opposite while blaming everyone else for what they’re doing.
The night once again was quiet until 11:30 PM when I heard rapid shooting coming from a far but the shooting sounded like there was a little war in that area.
April 9th, I went to Waar for the first time in months, and I was able to use my cellphones there and check my email. I wonder when we will get the network back in my neighborhood.
The regime attacked a Syrian refugees camp in Turkey killing two refugees at least and harming many others including Turkish policemen. That never happened before and it shows how cocky the regime is these days. They’re not afraid of attacking us in other countries.
The regime hits again and kills a Lebanese cameraman inside Lebanon and harms a couple of his coworkers. This wasn’t the first time the regime kills Lebanese people or trespasses the border, yet no one is doing anything about it.
April 10th, I went to Waar again and did some work there and apparently hurt my back badly somehow. By the time I went home I could barely move from the pain in my back. I couldn’t walk, or sit. Anyway, when I was in Waar I heard missiles being launched from the military school there towards other areas in Homs, which meant that the regime won’t stick to Annan’s plan that says the attacks must be stopped today. I never thought the regime will stick to it anyway.
April 11th, things started to slow down and by the time night came the city was completely quiet with the exception of a gunshot every now and then. The regime promised Annan to ceasefire at 6 AM tomorrow. I have doubt, but I sure am hopeful. This could start a new era of this revolution, an era that we’ve been waiting for a long time.