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 that is accidentally left behind. 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 and Jeremy sneak through the back alleys of Aleppo for several hours until you reach your apartment in Sakhour. You assure yourself you made the right decision by saying it would have been too dangerous to attempt to find Ibrahim, your dad, in regime-controlled territory. That's until you talk to the Syrian Electronic Army and your Druze friend who both tell you that your father has passed away from complications of his disease. You ask what disease? And the Druze man tells you that your father contracted Polio about two months ago. He tells you it was kind of a big story because he was the first one that contracted Polio in Aleppo. His age must have played a part, says the man. This all makes you think about how terrible the conditions must be for a virus that has been almost globally eradicated a half-century ago to resurface. And en mass for that matter. The Druze man continues to tell you that your mother and two brothers were killed in Salaheddine by a wayward rebel RPG-7. All of this makes you continue to think that there is no right or wrong side in this hellish war. Your father was a Sunni fighting for the Alawites. Zaia is a rebel fighting against other rebels. Jeremy is a journalist fighting no one but is the target of everyone. And you...Not only are you playing for both teams, but honestly, you have lost your faith in fundamental Islam. You've lost your faith in most things now that this war seems unwinnable. By preaching hardline worship, you contributed to the Al Qaeda problem, the rebel vs. rebel violence. It's at that very instant that you make up your mind to leave Aleppo for good. It pains you to see your city pulverized, more and more, everyday. So you pack a small bag with clothes and toiletries and some light reading, which is not the Quran, and you head towards the door, while your computer still lays on the desk where you left it months prior. As you pass, who is Jeremy kneeling in the living room, you say special delivery and throw him the keys to the apartment. You tell him it's a gift. Jeremy doesn't know what to say so you say don't say anything. And finally you tell him to gain some weight, man, while you walk out of the apartment, out of the building, and out of the city. Forever. It took 5,000 years to build the city of Aleppo and only two years to fully destroy it.