Rumors and Fear Hit Damascus

Facing an imminent threat, Syrians are all asking: What should we do?

Fearing a possible military strike led by the United States on the Syrian regime, Wafik and his family have started preparing a room in the basement of the building in which they live, at the center of the Syrian capital Damascus.


Damascus is living in a state of anticipation and fear.


Every moment is heavy with news and anticipation of dire consequences now that almost everyone is certain that the decision to bomb the  Damascus has been made.


Now, it is just a matter of time.


"Every moment the news of a military strike is confirmed again. And every moment our fear intensifies," says Wafik.


"I hurried to prepare the basement with all the necessary supplies –  medical, canned food, water and blankets. I called my close friends to let them know they can share the shelter. What else can we do?"


Damascus has not been under any major attack since 1973, so the majority of the population have no experience of incidents of war other than seeing the devastateing effects of war in Iraq in 2003, when thousands of Iraqis fled violence to Syria.


Today, they face an imminent threat and all are asking: What should we do?


In this tense atmosphere, a broad debate is raging among Syrians, about support for the opposition and the feasibility of the strike.


Alisar is an opposition activist who stands firmly against any foreign military intervention, warning that if it took place, "there will be a high price to pay." She does not hide her fear and concern about her family living in the capital, Damascus.


Umm Alaa on the other hand is another opposition activist with a different view.


"The Assad regime is the only one who dragged the country here and the protection of the Syrian people is a political and moral responsibility of the international community," she says.


"Intervention is inevitable in order to put an end to Assad's crimes ".


Syrians in general feel confusion around all their positions.


Nasr, another young activist says: "The fact is, I do not have any attitude towards this issue, as it comes in the context of regional conflict and international powers in the region. Syrians no longer have any hand in it".


"This strike wasn’t a response to what we wanted, and even if we refused it, we can't stop it if the decision has been made to go ahead."
"What distracts me most is how to stop the wheel of death. Stop the violence at any price, and then we may have a useful dialogue," he concludes.


Sharp differences exist between Syrians about outside military intervention, regardless of their attitude towards the ruling regime. But while each provides its excuses, all share their fear.


Reem is a media activist, who was displaced from the city of Daraya with her family.


"I am against a military strike on Syria," she says. "It will inevitably weaken the regime but it will not make it fall, while on the other hand, about five million displaced people reside in the capital, Damascus," she says.


"If they bomb the capital, where will all those people go?"


Saba, by contrast, believes that "civilians will be spared any injury" because the strike will "exclusively target military forces".


Rumors are swirling that families loyal to the regime have begun to leave and travel abroad. Others report the evacuation of ministries staff, but that news was also denied.


Reports also say the houses in the Yousef al-Azma complex – home to the elite fourth division and republican guards –  as well as all other military sites have been evacuated.


Many public sector employees are not turning up to work, fearing any sudden developments.


Syrians find themselves obliged to act as though there is no place safe to hide from the shelling and explosions in their country. With no place to flee to anymore, they are simply now waiting to die. The liberated places are not safe, nor the capital, or even neutral places in light of the upcoming military strike.


Where to go? This is the question thousands of Syrian families are asking, but there is no real answer.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer



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