Ahmed Deeb, a Palestinian photojournalist, spent 24 days taking photographs beside the rebels in Syria’s largest city. He sends us this report.
The Free Syrian Army in Aleppo is made up of separate brigades and battalions. They cooperate when they encounter shortages of ammunition or manpower. Most of the Free Syrian Army fighters are young, between 18 and 30 years old, and a smaller number of them are older. The leaders are always with their soldiers at the front lines.Exact numbers are unknown, but there are probably between 7,000–8,000 fighters total in the city of Aleppo and its surrounding countryside. While the Aleppo fighters stay in their city, supporting soldiers from Damascus, Idlib and Homs can be found here.
Most of the city of Aleppo is under the control of the Free Syrian Army. Soldiers from the government of President Bashar al-Assad are based in fortified places, like military barracks and military airports.
The countryside around Aleppo is no longer controlled by the government, but it is sometimes bombed by military planes. Once rebels had liberated the countryside, they moved onto the city of Aleppo. Many fighters in the city live there for long periods of time without seeing their families.
Syrian mobile phone networks often have weak signals and telephones lines are often cut, making communication difficult in the country. The rebel leaders use wireless devices to communicate with each other during battles.
Thousands of civilians have fled Syria for Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, due to indiscriminate shelling and targeting of civilian homes, the burning of factories, and the lack of water, electricity and communications in many provinces.
Abu Mohamed, 38, has four children and is a farmer in Ghuz, a village near Aleppo.
Abu Mohamed joined the Free Syrian Army a year ago, originally to repel an attack by Bashar al-Assad's forces on his village. He continued to fight with the rebels them to push Assad's forces out of his village.
After helping to clear the countryside, he joined the Tawheed Brigade in Aleppo, and moved on to fight with the rebels in the city of Aleppo, 45 kilometers from his family.
A view of the famous Aleppo Citadel, from which Assad's forces are launching artillery onto the surrounding area.
Youth on their bicycles watch tongues of smoke rising from houses the Old City of Aleppo after a missile attack by an MIG aircraft.
An elderly man walks through streets of the Old City, viewing the aftermath of aircraft missiles and mortars from Assad's forces.
Flags of Syrian independence and the revolution are manufactured by the Free Syrian Army. They are created from cropped Palestinian flags, with stars spray-painted on them.
A member of the rebel army takes a break beside his weapon and ammunition, ready for any event.
A group from the Free Syrian Army during the planning process against a government checkpoint in the Qustul neighborhood of Aleppo.
One of the rebels cooks eggplant for members of the Free Syrian Army near the military action.
A leader of the Tawheed Brigade explains the plan for an attack on Hanano Military Barracks to the rebels involved in the process.
Members of the Tawheed Brigade maneuver before they storm the Hanano Military Barracks. The barracks are some of the strongest and best defended in Syria.
Clashes between members of the Free Syrian Army and Assad's forces during the storming of Hanano Military Barracks in Aleppo.
A group of Free Syrian Army snipers monitors the movements of Assad's forces in the area of Sakhur in Aleppo.
A woman passes in front of a Free Syrian Army checkpoint as normal life continues for some people in the parts of Aleppo controlled by the rebels.
A member of the Free Syrian Army uses his phone before the storming of checkpoints in the Aleppo Market on the perimeter of the Aleppo Citadel.
A member of the Free Syrian Army fires on soldiers from Assad's forces in Aleppo.
One of the Free Syrian Army soldiers who was killed during the clashes with the forces of Assad after the government army tried to regain control of part of the Hanano Military Barracks.
One of the Free Syrian Army rebels watches the movements of one of the government checkpoints; the wall behind him is scarred by a tank round.
A leader of the Tawheed Brigade was killed by a sniper bullet to his head in the city of Aleppo.
After a mortar fell on Kadifah Mosque, where a number of Free Syrian Army soldiers were stationed, a soldier screams for help and an ambulance because of injuries in the mosque.
Members of the Free Syrian Army take pictures before they launch a military operation against a government checkpoint in the neighborhood Sha'ar.
A child sits on the rubble of his home after the Syrian air force bombed it and the neighboring houses.
A wounded rebel during a clash in a neighborhood beside the Hanano Military Barracks after pro-Assad forces re-seized control of the part of the barracks.