Bab El Tebanneh
Walkie-talkies allow information to flow between men at Bab el-Tebbaneh. A new confrontation is about to break out between fighters in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Tripoli and snipers are perched on the opposite hill: Jabal Mohsen. This district with its Alawite majority has been their nemesis for over 30 years.
We must act quickly. Armed men lead children away from their homes; inside, brides and mothers remain hidden. They have already created food reserves to prevent the necessity of leaving the home and being under fire. Hiding in the safest part of the bullet-riddled apartment, they cook for the soldiers while the children play, or fill arms with ammunition for their fathers. Outside, tarps were strung between buildings to protect the people from enemy snipers. Only the eyes of the the martyrs whose faces are posted on every street corner are visible from the balconies. Here neighbors exchange news from the front, as well as cooking ingredients. Stashed in an abandoned movie theater or behind a little wall overlooking Syria’s demarcation line, young men ready themselves to fight and risk their lives. They do this to protect their families.
For the majority of the inhabitants of the Land of the Cedars, Bab el-Tebbaneh is a jihadist landmark devoid of morality; a hopeless territory of which we can only condemn the existence and attempt to isolate. Women and children try to live between bursts of bullets, locked in a cycle of violence that they cannot escape. But between two mortars and a patrol of army tanks (the area once dubbed “golden door” for its rich market) you can see a young married couple in the process of moving, a young man running to class at the University, and his sister running to her football training.