Issa Touma is a Syrian photographer living in Al-Jdeideh, a historic neighborhood in the Old City of Aleppo, just north of the Citadel. His 13-minute video captures the initial 9 days of rebel-occupied Aleppo. When men with guns first appeared on the narrow street below his living room window.
First, they came as young men in camo shorts with modern assault rifles–where such men found sophisticated weaponry is never revealed. Yet their presence was a minor nuisance compared to what came next.
On day 9, the scene from Issa Touma’s window becomes more frightening. The young, clean-shaven men calling themselves the “Free Army” have taken down their barrier and left, but new, unrecognizable men step in and rebuild the barriers. They have beards, AK47s, and call themselves Liwa al-Tawhid. “National television calls them terrorists,” the photographer tells us, “the international press calls them freedom fighters. I don’t care what they call it. I refuse to choose a side. It’s a lie that the revolution started peacefully everywhere. At least in my street, Al Said Ali Street…it started with guns.” In this short documentary, we watch a military conflict set in on a city that’s about to be changed forever.