“We’re all going to be matyrs eventually, but not for nothing.”

This was spoken by “Abdul Hakeem Haseen, a formerly clean shaven accountant and the father of two young boys.” Whose father had been jailed — fated for death, or to be used as bait. Hakeem is the commander of a little rebel unit calling themselves the Lions of Tawhid, who allowed the New York Times to document five days with them in Aleppo.

It’s hard to understand any of the many wars between related people. For lucky Australians at home where the noisiest battles reside in the flaming rhetoric of partisan politics, it’s nearly impossible to get a feeling of the surreality of daily life in wartime, and as a combatant.

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In just under eight minutes, the NYT film by C.J. Chivers and Ben Solomon delivers an extraordinary picture of necessary adaptation to gun fighting, imminent death, pragmatic betrayal. And how, in two instances, one may miraculously survive despite intentionally lethal designs.

“Aleppo is a city of a few million people. Most remain inside by day.”

“May God curse your dignity. Look at their freedom, look how good it is.” — Hakeem on rifling through the photo albums found in an apartment abandoned by a police captain loyal to the regime.

But there is a pool at the end; you escape when you can.

“War moves to capricious rhythms.”





As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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