DAY 951 - OCTOBER 15, 2013
In response to threats of Western intervention, the Syrian Electronic Army, a group of pro-regime hackers, breaks into the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Twitter, CNN, TIME Magazine, Global Post, and the US Marine Corps. Russia denies that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attacks, attesting that it was a false flag planted by jihadist rebels. After much deliberation, the United States and the Syrian government reach an agreement that allows international inspectors to start destroying Assad's chemical weapons by way of a deal brokered by the Russian Federation. Two more journalists are kidnapped near Al Raqqa and the Turkish border, dissuading more journalists from entering the country and consequently bringing the international coverage of the conflict to a halt. Thirteen rebel factions in Syria break off from the FSA-backed Syrian National Council and form the Islamic Coalition, which further fractures the aims of the already disjointed Syrian opposition.
On account of poor sanitation and drinking water, in addition to "Aleppo Evil" spreading among those in Syria, cases of Polio, a disease that was nearly eradicated 20 years ago, has surfaced in Aleppo. Regardless of egregious living conditions in rebel-controlled areas, ISIS is still hell-bent on taking over the city. From your apartment, among several other Al Nusra lodgings in Sakhour, you can even see ISIS members in the streets. You try not to make yourself visible from the window but you watch as sturdy Iraqis, men who seemingly spent years in American prison, move without empathy or remorse. They carry their rifles with the safeties off. They are not warriors of Islam. Their motivation transparently exists for the power. You, however, can identify with that. You have become disenchanted with Salafist culture--the restrictions, the regimen. You are of the belief that Aleppo is doomed but it is your home. And you will never leave. More than anything though, you have lost faith in allegiances. Al Nusra and ISIS are supposed to share the same religious beliefs. Why, then, are they not able to agree on a single common enemy. Somewhere along the line the focus shifted from Assad to all those who stand in their way. What this has taught you to believe is that sides, political and religious ideologies, alliances, are never to be trusted. Because the fighting is always the same and the motivation is always be interchangeable. At that moment you see Sheikh Yousef being taken, forcefully, from his car by a young ISIS member. Sheikh Yousef, his arms saggy and his knees weak, begins to yell at the boy who mishandles him. He tells the boy that he is a bad Muslim, but the boy doesn't seem to care. Then, a technical full of other ISIS members arrives next to them, you begin to formulate the idea that they are actually kidnapping the good Sheikh. At that moment you also remember that the good Sheikh saved your life when he called Hamid the Weaponeer to deal with the Badr Martyrs. Furiously, you look around the four bedroom apartment, that is more like a dormitory than anything else. That's until you find the FN FAL rifle under Jalal Al Din's bed.
- Take the shot. There is still such a thing as loyalty in this world and, like Aleppo, it is fused on a neighborhood basis.
- Let him go. Even if you take down two or three ISIS fighters, they will still drive away with Sheikh Yousef. You won't be able to stop them. The world is doomed. That is what this life has taught you.