DAY 683 - JANUARY 22, 2013
Syrian Rebels capture Mayadin, a regime army base outside of Deir Ez Zor, which confirms that most of the city is now under opposition control. In an attempt to lure FSA forces out of hiding, cellphone and internet reception across Syria becomes spotty, pressuring rebels to communicate via landline, a method that is traceable by the Assad's government. Islamist faction Jabhat Al Nusra is declared a terrorist organization by the United States and embattled Syrian President Bashar Al Assad begins deploying Scud missiles, thereby continuing to escalate the conflict. On average more than 100 people are dying everyday in Syria and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that over 45,000 people have been killed in the country since the start of the conflict in March 2011.
Snow is falling in the Ancient City of Aleppo, bringing the fighting to a brief but much needed halt. You wonder if your father was really down there, in the depths of the Hanano prison and you wonder what he must have done to end up there. In a strange turn of events an American, and Muslim convert, fighting for the FSA turns up in the possession of Jabhat Al Nusra. At first Sheikh Yousef and the other commanders, including the leader of the Al Tawhid Brigade Sheikh Muhktar Al Mu'in, believe that this American, Eric Harroun, is a spy trying to infiltrate the Islamic rebel front. The two good Sheikhs ask you to talk with him. They think you will be able to extract his true allegiance. Flattered by the elders, you video chat with the American as he remains bound in a dark room, amongst Al Nusra soldiers. But, after hours of trying to find reasons to call him a traitor, you realize that he is too reckless and unintelligent to hide any sort of ulterior motive. He simply wants to shoot people with guns. You also realize that this American Muslim convert and former US Marine can be used as a powerful pawn against the West. You tell Jalal Al Din to take as much footage of the American as possible as you will find it handy in the future. Meanwhile food in Aleppo costs more than ever as many of the bakeries have completely run out of ingredients to make bread. Aleppo is becoming increasingly fragmented with different factions and brigades on both sides. You are trying to talk with all of the factions but, as the city descends into lawlessness, new ones seem to sprout up everyday. Online, members of the Syrian Electronic Army introduce you to a Pro-Assad Druze man who lives near the Golan Heights, along the border with Israel. And he, in turn, introduces you to several members of the Ba'ath Brigades, a group of Sunni Muslim volunteers who support Assad's regime and tout influence in Aleppo. Additionally the Druze man informs you of two people that might be of relevance. He tells you both are Ba'ath Brigade members and both, also, claim to know you. He tells you the first is a kid, apparently not much older than yourself, named Khalil. And the second, is an older man who goes by the name Ibrahim. Says he's your father... The Druze tells you over secure email.