The civil war in Syria is closing in on the capital, Damascus. There have been a series of bomb attacks in and around the city this week. Anchor Marco Werman speaks with freelance reporter, Mikel Ayestaran, who left Damascus on Thursday.
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Marco Werman: The fighting in Syria is on a completely different scale than the political, social unrest in Egypt. In Syria, it’s all-out civil war. Rebels remain determined to push President Bashar al-Assad from power, but Bashar and his regime aren’t budging. The conflict, though, is closing in on the Syrian capital, Damascus. There were a series of bomb attacks in and around the city this week. Freelance reporter, Mikel Ayestaran, left Damascus just yesterday. He says the war has come to the outskirts of the city.
Mikel Ayestaran: I think right now there are two different Damascus. One thing is what’s going on downtown, or in the first ring of the capital. And totally different is what’s going on outside Damascus, in the countryside. In places like Douma, Harasta, Sakba, they are absolutely out of the control of the government. And the civilians caught in the middle suffer right now from food, gas, or power shortages. The situation is becoming more and more complicated for the civilians. And let’s see what happens in the next days, because the winter now is really very hard.
Werman: So, how close did you get to the fighting that’s happening just outside the Damascus city limits?
Ayestaran: The fight is going on street by street. Right now many places, even in the first ring of Damascus, there is no clear line, a clear border between the two sides. So in places like Jarmuk, a refugee camp, for example, the difference between the two lines is just one street.
Werman: Wow. So, in the center of Damscus, right in the center of the city, is it calm? Or is there fighting there, as well?
Ayestaran: The center is calm. And the shops are open, the restaurants working. You can see a lot of people, really, these days, especially because all these people from, all these civilians from the outside Damascus are now living in the very center of the capital. This is the last part the regime has really in control. I mean, the presence of the security forces is really heavy in central Damascus, but only in the first ring, not more.
Werman: Right, so in other parts of Damascus, how are civilians actually feeling the effects of the war? Are there any shortages of food and fuel?
Ayestaran: This is what’s happening in central Damascus. There are shortages, really, of food, gas, and power. Now, for example, if you want to buy bread in Damascus, you need to be in queue for at least three hours. This is the first time that Damascus has this situation.
Werman: Freelance reporter, Mikel Ayestaran, speaking with us from Cairo. He left Damascus, the Syrian capital, just yesterday. You can follow some of his Syria reporting at The Daily Beat. Mikel, thank you very much.
Ayestaran: Thank you, you are very welcome.
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