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 the 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.
On July 19th, the Battle for Aleppo happens all at once and simultaneously transitions Syria into the next phase of the war. Between 6,000 and 7,000 rebel soldiers from nearly 20 battalions storm a number of southwestern districts and eventually move to contest the gates of the Old City at Aleppo's center. Heavy shelling ensues between rebel and regime soldiers throughout most neighborhoods and Assad begins to employ attack helicopters and heavy artillary against brigades like Liwa Al Tawhid and Jabhat Al Nusra. After days of fighting, opposition forces establish checkpoints in several eastern swathes of city blocks, including the neighborhood Al Sakhour, close to Al Nusra's main headquarters. Sheikh Yousef informs you that soon a rebel offensive is set to occur in the Salaheddine neighborhood of Aleppo. It's where your family's house is located. You haven't been back since you moved in with Khalil over a year ago. The good Sheikh asks you to go to Salaheddine with one of the battalions in order to film the martyrs of the Al Nusra Front in action. You understand these videos are crucial to spreading the Salafist ideology as well as for recruiting new members, but you have never seen live action before and you wonder if you are prepared. Part of you is terrified but the other part says maybe you can find your family...
- Go to Salaheddine and film the opposition raid. You know that you are one of the most technically astute members of Al Nusra and this will be an efficient use of your skills. Additionally you may be able to find your family.
- Hang back in the eastern quarter of Aleppo and monitor the action from afar. You are too valuable to risk your life on the front lines. There will come a time when there will be a necessity to fight, but now is not that time.