It is often depicted as an apocalyptic battleground, but on the ground in the Souq Shaabi of northeastern Syria’s Afrin, a street vendor sells socks from a table. A restaurateur proudly displays his kebabs. A barber is open for business. Children walk through the marketplace with their mothers.
Humdrum scenes of daily life but in wartorn northern Syria such dullness is a miracle, a respite from a complex unremitting war that has engulfed the region for a decade.
During the past 15 months I have visited northern Syria three times on day-long trips. Each of the areas was under the control, or under the influence, of the government of Turkey, whose moves and motives in Syria have been controversial. Each of the trips was organised, or at least allowed, by Turkey. But despite such limitations, such visits are invaluable.
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