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Mónica G. Prieto (Homs, Syria)

Translation: Blanca G. Bertolaza

  • We start publishing a series of reports written during these Christmas holidays by our correspondent Mónica G. Prieto in the Syrian city of Homs, besieged and bombed by the army under Bashar al Assad’s regime.

It was impossible to recognize young Ali Ahmed al Zeib in the remains that lay in the humble kitchen. The inquiring look the 15 year old gave his mother hours before when she remembered the sudden loss of his brother Mahmud, 12, victim of a nail bomb dropped by a Syrian tank a month ago on his street, was now frozen; his limbs were gone. It hurt to remember little Ali while he helped, just a few hours before, Umm Yihad to look for pictures of his brother, when he held his breath while she referred with pride to the loss that, she said, “was breaking her heart”. “But he has died as a martyr of the revolution, thank god, and I’m willing to give out my sons one by one to end this regime. Since I was little I learnt from my parents that Hafez Assad [father of the current president] was a criminal. I thought his son would not be so bad, now I’ve seen that he is even worse than his father”.

What Umm Yihad could not suspect is that barely a few hours after welcoming Periodismo Humano in her home in Baba Amr, one of the most significant neighborhoods in Homs, the military aggression launched by the Syrian regime against its citizens would snatch away two more of his children. At six in the evening of Tuesday December 20th, a missile landed right in her home, unleashing what Baba Amr considers the worst massacre since it rebelled against Bashar Assad. Ali Ahmed lay in the kitchen torn into pieces, his big eyes lost in the emptiness. One of his arms stuck out among the rubble, which just an hour before was a spacious and simple home where Umm Yihad handed out fruit, a luxury given the siege of Homs, to her guests. The remains of Ali and Yihad, his older brother, 24, had been scattered around the room making up a grotesque collection of scraps. On one side of the room, a huge tray with rice makes us think that they were in the middle of dinner when the explosion that has broken once more Umm Yihad’s heart took place.

Ali Ahmed al Zeib’s wrecked corpse, 15 years old, lies on a rug in his home after being hit by a bombing by Bashar Asad’s Army. WARNING: we only publish the top half of the photograph. The bottom half shows the torn remains of his abdomen and his legs ripped off by the explosion (Mónica G. Prieto/Periodismo Humano)

Al Zeib’s family, well known in Homs, was not the only victim of the tragedy caused by Bashar Assad’s forces. Part of the house next door, which belonged to the Al Aads, collapsed because of the strength of the explosion. The dust and the smell of death and explosives make it impossible to breathe. The neighbors’ howls, completely shaken, made the ambiance even more surreal. “This way, this way!” The stairs, full of debris, led to a second floor where several men worked frantically. One of them held a flashlight, shedding some light onto the impenetrable darkness of the night in Homs, where the Syrian president does not allow its inhabitants to enjoy the luxury of electricity as a punishment for not submitting to his police regime. Another one carried a blanket. A third one, on the roof, brought down with difficulty a bloody lump: a spinal column with bloody bits dangling from it. He threw it onto the blanket and vomited. The second man wrapped it up while the others tried to locate more remains of someone who just hours before tried to wear out another terrible day. Leer más