Free Syrian Army fighters stand guard over the state cable company premises to avoid looting in Khan Al-Assal, a district 14 kilometres west of Aleppo. Much of the rest of the place seems a nightmarish ghost town.
Scorching flames from a makeshift oil refinery sting eyes and the fumes choke throats near the top of a hill in northwestern Syria, where Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters gather for fuel, coffee and phone calls as darkness falls.
A group of six men listen as voices crackle through a walkie-talkie. They are sitting in a farmhouse in the north of Lebanon less than a kilometre from the Syrian border. The sound of gunfire and shelling in the distance sporadically punctuates the atmosphere. One of the group returns to the room after taking a telephone call. “Good news from the battle,” he exclaims with a smile.
Two floors have been ripped from the top of an apartment block in Aleppo in northern Syria. A lone man stands amidst the rubble four stories up after a missile from one of his own government’s fighter jets smashed into the building that morning. With his arms crossed, the solitary figure surveys the destruction around him.