Damascus Morning Raid

Damascus Morning Raid

It was dawn; I was lost in that moment between the conscious and unconsciousness of sleep, then the sound of heavy boots thumping the cobbled stones in the alley outside, in my confused state I didn’t understand what I could hear, then suddenly the sound of the stock of a gun being repeatedly bashed against a metal door, the fog of sleep banished in a second as I sat stone still, within seconds the shout of “jeish” screamed at the unanswered door, I sprang from my bed and stumbled into my trousers, comically tripping as my heart and mind raced, I through a coat over my camera bag and slid it under my desk, then the same bashing on my door, my heart heaved through my chest, I shouldn’t have been so surprised as the army had been searching houses in the Old City over the previous couple of days, I hadn’t quite realized they were going literally from house to house and had assumed just to those suspected, I opened the door and the soldier just stared at me and said nothing, other soldiers were milling around in the alley while others were going in and out of my neighbor’s houses, yes I said half expecting him to have opened the conversation, “jeish” he shouted at me, oddly I was calm, he was the same height as me and I smiled and said I could see he was the army, I handed him my ID which he had not actually asked for, he looked a little confused and passed it to a superior, they seemed a little amused when they read it expired in 2015, I invited them inside and they questioned me, had I any weapons, now there’s a funny story I thought but decided against mentioning the fact I did in fact have .22 air rifle hidden inside the sofa, I knew it was harmless but didn’t feel in the mood to tell them the very amusing story of the rat and the gun dealer, no I said, no weapons, had I seen anyone with weapons in the area he asked, my eyes glanced at the four Kalashnikov wielding soldiers poking around in my laundry basket and said I hadn’t, they didn’t look very hard and did their best to be polite, the plain-clothed superior handed back my residents card and said I was welcome, it was my house but I didn’t feel very welcome, they all filed out, I closed the door and my heart started to thump again.
Diary from Damascus 14 August 2012

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4 thoughts on “Damascus Morning Raid

  1. I had a similar experience in the Filipino Jungle of SAMAR, not far from TACLOBAN where all the devastation is now. I was travelling on a bus from one town to another through the jungle. The bus was going very fast, maybe 80km per hour. I looked ahead and saw a small speed limit sign. I could make out 60 on the sign, but as we rapidly approached, I then saw it said MINIMUM 60kph. I asked a local why the bus travels so fast. He said to keep the NPA (national peoples army… or rebels) from boarding the bus.
    Not long after, the bus slowed and was pulled over by none other than NPA soldiers. Some boarded, some waited outside. Some people were taken outside and made to kneel on the road with their hands behind their heads. One soldier then looked at me, and the other Australian man I was travelling with and shouted “AMERICANO, AMERICANO” pointing his loaded ancient weapon at me.
    “No, Australiano Spiritus”… (Australian preachers), replied the Sargeant who looked when the shouting began.
    We were allowed to continue on our journey. To this day, I don’t know how, in the middle of this jungle, this rebel soldier knew exactly who we were. Nor to this day do I know what happened to those we left behind with their hands behind their head kneeling on the road.
    21 years ago, and it still brings me some tears even now.

  2. it’s one of those moments when you feel all your life passing fast in front of your eyes, makes you remember things and people you never expected to cross your mind in such a second. and forget things you never usually forget. also a self experience in Syria.

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