DAY 1000 - DECEMBER 9, 2013
Foreign fighters on both ends of the conflict flood into Syria, hoping to turn the tides in a country where little more than rubble is left of most cities. A family of 150 Kazakh jihadists, including women and small children, arrive in northern Syria to try to help topple the regime of embattled President Bashar Al Assad. Meanwhile, a team of Russian mercenaries, beholden to Assad, is discovered to have operated near an oil field in Deir Ez Zor after an ISIS member finds a foreign ID card. As the winter months approach, disease, malnutrition and starvation affect those Syrian citizens that have not evacuated the country. Polio, a virus that has been eradicated in the United States for over 25 years, surfaces in Deir Ez Zor, Damascus, and Aleppo. The Syrian government meets the first deadline for disposing of their chemical weapons with all of their manufacturing facilities being successfully dismantled. However, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says that although they have located most of Assad's stockpiles, the complex instability in places like Homs has made it difficult to verify if clusters of Mustard, VX, and Sarin gas still exist amidst the daily firefights. ISIS soldiers continue to push westward against the Free Syrian Army, eventually taking control of Bab Al Hawa, the Turkish border crossing that was both a FSA stronghold and a transport lifeline for foreign arms and medical supplies. The UN and other international organizations, unable to verify mounting fatality figures in Syria, start to abandon their death toll tallies. The numbers continue to soar while the identities of the deceased gradually disappear, namelessly, without reason or record.
You can no longer stay in Al Raqqa. Everytime you leave your house, you see men in black masks following you and Yara. They have nothing else to do besides intimidate you. It's the story of the entire revolution, really. You haven't done anything wrong, yet you are harassed, scared, abused, and followed. You are simply trying to provide a good life for your children in the country in which you were raised. In your home. But all that seems impossible now. There is nowhere safe in Syria for you to flee towards. You have to leave, fall victim to one of the under-funded and diseased refugee camps across the Turkish border. Your life will be in a tent, indefinitely. How did it all come to this? There was such promise at the start. You are just trying to provide a good life for your children. You are just trying to provide a good life for your children. You are just trying to provide a good life for your children. You can hear the news bleeding from one of the shisha places on the block. They talk about a suicide bombing in Iraq, Fallujah to be precise. ISIS takes responsibility. These attacks are happening more and more in Iraq. This year was the most violent year in Iraq since 2008. The Syrian war has spilled over into every neighboring country. You think about Emad, him being close to the border with Iraq. Him being alone in the desert with a dozen men in black Tawhid masks. You think about what he is doing and then briefly you think if, a few years from now, he might be the one in that car, ready to die in a moment for the name of a cause that no one can really explain. You look at Yara, the one you have left, the good one, and then you begin the first small steps that will end with you leaving your country, hopefully forever.