Postcard from... Damascus


Click to follow
The Independent Online

This winter is more peaceful than last for the people of Jaramana, a Syrian town on the outskirts of Damascus. The sound of regular bombardment has been banished since the army drove away approaching rebels; instead it has been replaced by the sound of chopping wood.

Despite their support for the government of Bashar al-Assad, residents facing the biting cold are finding it difficult to obtain heating oil – so they are instead having to take an axe to anything that will serve as fuel for their heaters, including furniture.

“Things are better than last year,” says Adnan Tannous, 50, recalling the 10 to 15 mortar bombs a day that used to strike the district where he and his wife have lived for years. But, faced with the smoke pouring into their chilly home from a heater designed to run on oil, not wood, he admitted: “It gives nowhere near the heat of diesel.” Outside, his son used an axe to break up a flimsy cupboard.

It’s good news for firewood traders, but not for anyone else. “Everything has doubled in price,” says Mr Tannous, who earns the equivalent of £2.50 a day distributing cleaning products. To save money, he rides a bicycle instead of taking the bus. “We haven’t grilled meat for two or three months,” he said.