DAY 500 - JULY 28, 2012


The UN declares the Syrian conflict "a full-scale civil war" and suspends its monitoring mission because of attacks against its general inspectors. The decision by the United Nations coupled with increased instability in the region, goads Russia to station two warships near its base in Tartous, Syria. Additionally, Russian and China, for a third time, veto a UN resolution plan. Syria's ambassadors to Iraq and Cyprus both defect and the New York Times reports that Assad has moved a stockpile of chemical weapons, of which he has one of the largest in the world, out of storage. There is a fear within the international community that the Syrian government may use the weapons in an act of desperation.

Deir Ez Zor is, for the most part, split in two: rebels on one side, regime on the other. The city has taken heavy shelling. Deir Ez Zor is famous for its suspension bridge that you learn has been destroyed by tank fire and air strikes. From the cover of a narrow street, you overhear another mother talking about how the banks of the Euphrates River is where tens of thousands of Armenians were killed during the genocide in 1915. She says that the death of Assad's men will overshadow the Armenian death marches that took place in the city nearly a century ago. Eventually you go up to the women. You start talking about your shared predicament, how your homeland is besieged. You stand there talking for a while until the women asks if you want to see something, and when you say sure, she takes you to an abandoned factory where some other mothers are building DIY explosives for rebel soldiers. When you leave the warehouse, it occurs to you just how many odd industries have surfaced on account of this war.