After eight years of war in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has gained control of much of the country and is poised to take over Idlib, the last rebel stronghold, but what does that victory look like?
The New York Times answers this question through a rare trip by three of its journalists between the rubble of Syrian cities and neighborhoods, including the city of Douma, which has been ravaged by the ongoing bombing of the Assad regime and the killing and displacement of its residents.
It was not difficult for her and her team as they made their way through the ruins of Douma, the administrative center of the Damascus suburb of Rif, 14 kilometers from the capital, to realize the disaster.
She adds that the city is almost empty of young people, most of whom were killed in the war, or were absent in the cells of the regime or displaced outside the Syrian borders, and there are only women, elders and children, who are trying to adapt to live despite the wounds of war and the absence of loved ones.
The war wiped out the Douma youth
As they toured the city's devastated neighborhoods, the streets were empty of women carrying items brought in from grocery stores, old men on motorbikes, and skinny children carrying water to the rest of the houses.
The newspaper reported human stories of some survivors clinging to life in the ruins of the city despite harsh living conditions, devastating infrastructure and lack of basic services, and monitored how they were trying to heal their wounds after years of war and siege that turned their lives upside down.
Among the survivors interviewed by the team were Umm Khalil, the 95-year-old grandmother, who lost her husband and killed three of her sons during the war, the fourth was imprisoned and tortured by rebels, and the fifth was absent in the regime's prisons, leaving her with the widow of her son who was killed in an air strike by the regime. Raising her five grandchildren orphans.
“Sometimes I sit and think about how it all happened,” says Umm Khalil, who lives with the rest of her family in an apartment for an acquaintance. “I had children working, we were living a normal life and suddenly I lost them and my husband too.” "I hope to find someone who destroyed this city and killed him."
The disappearance of the middle class
According to the paper, the war not only ravaged the city's infrastructure and the rest of Syria's ruined cities, but also Syria's middle class, most of whom fled abroad or descended into the economic ladder because of the war.
UN statistics estimate that eight out of ten people in Syria live in poverty, at about $ 3 a day.
In the absence of international assistance for the country's reconstruction, the reporter says, survivors of the war in Duma are always trying to fill the holes left behind by the shelling in their homes and provide food for their children.This task falls on older women, the elderly and children in the absence of parents.
The lion is above the rubble
The paper asked about the price of the victory achieved by Assad over the revolution after eight years of war, noting that that victory required the killing of half a million people and the displacement of more than 11 million Syrians from their land and the settlement of cities on the ground.
It is difficult to mistake the visitor to identify who headed the destruction, as the newspaper says - where banners carrying pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and slogans in support of him at the entrances to the cities that his army has controlled, and overlooking among the rubble of the destroyed city and checkpoints en route to it .
"Lion forever." One of the newspaper's many banners, with pictures of the Syrian president, and some of his allies, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, overlook cigarette lighters and at checkpoints.