DAY 1000 - DECEMBER 9, 2013
Hundreds are killed in a chemical attack in the East Ghouta region of Damascus, most of them civilians. Scores of videos surface showing women and children suffering from respiratory failure, thereby corroborating the belief that Sarin gas was most likely the agent released. John Kerry and David Cameron bang the war drums, citing Assad crossed US President Barack Obama's "red line" with the biological attack. But to little effect, both US and UK governing bodies ultimately reject intervention proposals. Syrian rebels make a push towards Latakia, Assad's hometown and government stronghold, causing hundreds of Alawites to flee to the south. In Beirut a powerful car bomb kills 21 people in a densely populated, Hezbollah-controlled, shopping area. It is the deadliest attack Beirut has seen in more than eight years. In Al Raqqa, a liberated city in northeastern Syria, jihadist rebels fully expel Free Syrian Army soldiers from the region. 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 FSA , 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.
From time to time there are scuffles at Al Zaatari. Everyday it grows by the dozens. The Syrian Armed Forces continues to traffic more and more people in but never out, and aid workers around the camp keep talking about reaching critical mass and how everything may fall apart any day now. You try not to spend your time worrying about that, though. You continue to teach your children to read and write. You tell them stories and you do what you can to divert their attention away from the squalid conditions around you. Mostly you wait to see if your refugee status will allow you and your children to move away from the heat and the desert of the Middle East. You wonder what it's like in Norway...You wonder what snow looks like...What it tastes like...You wonder if you will ever be able to forget what you've seen in your country.