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 discovers a foreign ID card 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.
Back in New York, you are nominated for several reporting awards per your work in Syria. You are one of the only journalists who remained in the country for nearly the entire duration of the conflict. In the subway you look around at people on their phones, talking to each other, laughing. You observe the quality of life in which they all live, how it is so drastically different in places like Aleppo and Homs, how they can't even begin to understand. You are asked to speak at a handful of fundraisers, several liberal arts colleges, and the Overseas Press Club Awards. You agree to do some out of respect but decline the majority. You think about all the people whose names will eventually be forgotten as more and more are killed in Syria and you think about how strange it is that you somehow like it better there in the shit than you do here, in the city so nice they named it twice. Really all you are thinking about now is how it's too hard to walk around, to assimilate back into society. All you are thinking about, really, is when you will fly back to Beirut and then how you will never come back here ever again.