The diaries of the Free Syrian Army soldiers
AFP PHOTO / HO / SHAAM NEWS NETWORK: FSA soldiers on a training exercise
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He was talking about apricots to his exiled brother on Facebook, when a bomb exploded close to where he and a group of Free Syrian Army soldiers were in the outskirts of Homs.
He and some of his comrades were mildly injured, but this is daily life for FSA soldiers: everyday is bitter sweet.
Mohammad talks to his brother via Facebook about the meals he and his comrades prepare. It’s not exactly home-cooking as they have to stop every time the bombing starts, meaning most of the dishes end up ruined. For breakfast they cook meals made of semolina and sugar: anything that doesn’t require electricity.
A media activist, in the city of Homs who stayed with the Free Syrian Army said that in FSA neighborhoods one kitchen serves three streets, feeding everyone.
The same activist talked to Al Sharq Al Awsat about his experiences staying with the FSA:
“Food does not go to waste here, everything is recycled, new recipes are invented to make use of the leftovers,” he told them.
A lack of food is not the only issue the FSA face and often it’s the smaller things that cause the biggest difficulties. With almost no female fighters, normal relationships for the men become a problem. One soldier, now engaged to a female activist, demands that his comrades get his permission before talking to her.
All kinds of personal relationships have to take a backseat as the fighting continues. Often soldiers have not seen their families for over a year but many still feel it’s too dangerous to contact them.
“I have not seen or called my mother in six months, I don’t want her to be harassed,” said one.
As for living their lives with the sounds of bombs overhead, most are now so used to it that they continue to drink tea in the streets even as buildings around them are shelled.
“Whoever faces death on a daily basis, will be amazed at the miracles that happen. Bombs can fall right next you, but they don't go off, or buildings crumbling to pieces, yet you come out of the rubble alive,” said the activist who wished to remain anonymous.
He said the soldiers slept in turn to keep guard and when someone died only one other soldier was allowed to move the body from the hospital to the mosque to avoid more casualties.
“Every day there is a funeral, it has become part of our daily lives, although it is not easy losing a comrade, we are happy that they died as martyrs,” he said.
Abdul Jabbar (not his real name) is a Free Syrian Army fighter stationed in Homs. He said the deaths in his division only increased their determination to fight:
“Our happiest times are when we gather around a pot of tea discussing matters of the day, joking around, discussing the fate of our prisoners or singing revolutionary songs. It helps us overcome our sadness for a lost comrade.”
As for Ibrahim, a dissident soldier, who has now joined the Free Syrian Army, the best moments are when he and his fellow soldiers are able to collect ammunition, weapons or prisoners from an attack. If they are able to acquire artillery or armor they are even happier.
According to the Homsi activist, prayer is an important feature of everyday life for the FSA. But religion is not as divisive as some would like to believe:
“You see civil seculars revolutionists next to fighters, Salafists with beards next to men wearing shorts. They might have arguments and not agree on some things, but at the end of the day we have one goal in common, which is to liberate this country from the corrupt dictator”
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