Amid the rubble, elderly Syrian man finds solace in his ash-covered car collection

Published March 16th, 2017 - 09:20 GMT

For the last six years, the world has experienced the Syrian war through one haunting image after another: a drowned boy washed up on a Turkish beach, images of starving civilians living under siege, an injured child sitting stunned and silent in an ambulance in the aftermath of an airstrike. But as Syria entered its seventh year of war, AFP photographer Joseph Eid recently returned to Aleppo in search of an elderly man, Mohammed Anis, known for his classic car collection, and captured an image that perfectly sums up the devastation of war. “A novel in one shot,” wrote the Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor on Twitter.
As Eid wrote, “There are some things fighting can’t kill” - including Monsieur Anis’ will to live. Though his family has left Aleppo, he still takes pleasure in the vestiges of his former life - looking after his classic car collection, smoking his pipe, and listening to classical music on his gramophone in his shattered bedroom. 

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Mohammed Anis puts a record on his trusty gramophone at his home in Aleppo. His family gone, his home bombed out, the record player is one of the few things still working - and a main source of joy for him.

Mohammed Anis puts a record on his trusty gramophone at his home in Aleppo. His family gone, his home bombed out, the record player is one of the few things still working - and a main source of joy for him.

The interior of the 1947 Plymouth parked outside the home of Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar in Aleppo's formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood. Once a wealthy man, he owned around 30 classic cars, mostly vintage American cars from the 1940s and 1950s.

The interior of the 1947 Plymouth parked outside the home of Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar in Aleppo's formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood. Once a wealthy man, he owned around 30 classic cars, mostly vintage American cars from the 1940s and 1950s.

Life going back to normal. A Syrian man walks his dog in the previously rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10, 2017.

Life going back to normal. A Syrian man walks his dog in the previously rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10, 2017.

70-year-old Mohammed Anis opens the trunk of his 1949 Hudson Commodor outside his home in Aleppo. Most of his cars have either been damaged by shelling in the war or stolen by fighters. He left Aleppo just two months before the eastern part of the city fell to government forces, but later returned, vowing to restore his “wounded” cars.

70-year-old Mohammed Anis opens the trunk of his 1949 Hudson Commodor outside his home in Aleppo. Most of his cars have either been damaged by shelling in the war or stolen by fighters. He left Aleppo just two months before the eastern part of the city fell to government forces, but later returned, vowing to restore his “wounded” cars.

Any time one of his cars was damaged during the war, it was like seeing one of his own family members being hurt or killed, Mohammed told the AFP.

Any time one of his cars was damaged during the war, it was like seeing one of his own family members being hurt or killed, Mohammed told the AFP.

Syrians walk the streets of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of al-Shaar in Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016.

Syrians walk the streets of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of al-Shaar in Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016.

Mohammed inspects his 1957 Mercury Montclair outside his home in Aleppo. When asked “how can you live here?” he replied simply, “this is my home.”

Mohammed inspects his 1957 Mercury Montclair outside his home in Aleppo. When asked “how can you live here?” he replied simply, “this is my home.”

The interior of a damaged building is seen during a sandstorm in Aleppo, Syria. Following a long government siege, the city has barely an hour of electricity a day with generators operating here and there.

The interior of a damaged building is seen during a sandstorm in Aleppo, Syria. Following a long government siege, the city has barely an hour of electricity a day with generators operating here and there.

“Anis puffed on his pipe,” the AFP’s Joseph Eid wrote. “He looked out the window and he had a look on his face of a person watching a beautiful sunset. He sat there, puffing on his broken pipe and staring out the window as the music floated over the ruins of his house and the city outside.”

“Anis puffed on his pipe,” the AFP’s Joseph Eid wrote. “He looked out the window and he had a look on his face of a person watching a beautiful sunset. He sat there, puffing on his broken pipe and staring out the window as the music floated over the ruins of his house and the city outside.”

Mohammed Anis puts a record on his trusty gramophone at his home in Aleppo. His family gone, his home bombed out, the record player is one of the few things still working - and a main source of joy for him.
The interior of the 1947 Plymouth parked outside the home of Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar in Aleppo's formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood. Once a wealthy man, he owned around 30 classic cars, mostly vintage American cars from the 1940s and 1950s.
Life going back to normal. A Syrian man walks his dog in the previously rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10, 2017.
70-year-old Mohammed Anis opens the trunk of his 1949 Hudson Commodor outside his home in Aleppo. Most of his cars have either been damaged by shelling in the war or stolen by fighters. He left Aleppo just two months before the eastern part of the city fell to government forces, but later returned, vowing to restore his “wounded” cars.
Any time one of his cars was damaged during the war, it was like seeing one of his own family members being hurt or killed, Mohammed told the AFP.
Syrians walk the streets of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of al-Shaar in Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016.
Mohammed inspects his 1957 Mercury Montclair outside his home in Aleppo. When asked “how can you live here?” he replied simply, “this is my home.”
The interior of a damaged building is seen during a sandstorm in Aleppo, Syria. Following a long government siege, the city has barely an hour of electricity a day with generators operating here and there.
“Anis puffed on his pipe,” the AFP’s Joseph Eid wrote. “He looked out the window and he had a look on his face of a person watching a beautiful sunset. He sat there, puffing on his broken pipe and staring out the window as the music floated over the ruins of his house and the city outside.”
Mohammed Anis puts a record on his trusty gramophone at his home in Aleppo. His family gone, his home bombed out, the record player is one of the few things still working - and a main source of joy for him.
Mohammed Anis puts a record on his trusty gramophone at his home in Aleppo. His family gone, his home bombed out, the record player is one of the few things still working - and a main source of joy for him.
The interior of the 1947 Plymouth parked outside the home of Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar in Aleppo's formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood. Once a wealthy man, he owned around 30 classic cars, mostly vintage American cars from the 1940s and 1950s.
The interior of the 1947 Plymouth parked outside the home of Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar in Aleppo's formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood. Once a wealthy man, he owned around 30 classic cars, mostly vintage American cars from the 1940s and 1950s.
Life going back to normal. A Syrian man walks his dog in the previously rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10, 2017.
Life going back to normal. A Syrian man walks his dog in the previously rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10, 2017.
70-year-old Mohammed Anis opens the trunk of his 1949 Hudson Commodor outside his home in Aleppo. Most of his cars have either been damaged by shelling in the war or stolen by fighters. He left Aleppo just two months before the eastern part of the city fell to government forces, but later returned, vowing to restore his “wounded” cars.
70-year-old Mohammed Anis opens the trunk of his 1949 Hudson Commodor outside his home in Aleppo. Most of his cars have either been damaged by shelling in the war or stolen by fighters. He left Aleppo just two months before the eastern part of the city fell to government forces, but later returned, vowing to restore his “wounded” cars.
Any time one of his cars was damaged during the war, it was like seeing one of his own family members being hurt or killed, Mohammed told the AFP.
Any time one of his cars was damaged during the war, it was like seeing one of his own family members being hurt or killed, Mohammed told the AFP.
Syrians walk the streets of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of al-Shaar in Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016.
Syrians walk the streets of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of al-Shaar in Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016.
Mohammed inspects his 1957 Mercury Montclair outside his home in Aleppo. When asked “how can you live here?” he replied simply, “this is my home.”
Mohammed inspects his 1957 Mercury Montclair outside his home in Aleppo. When asked “how can you live here?” he replied simply, “this is my home.”
The interior of a damaged building is seen during a sandstorm in Aleppo, Syria. Following a long government siege, the city has barely an hour of electricity a day with generators operating here and there.
The interior of a damaged building is seen during a sandstorm in Aleppo, Syria. Following a long government siege, the city has barely an hour of electricity a day with generators operating here and there.
“Anis puffed on his pipe,” the AFP’s Joseph Eid wrote. “He looked out the window and he had a look on his face of a person watching a beautiful sunset. He sat there, puffing on his broken pipe and staring out the window as the music floated over the ruins of his house and the city outside.”
“Anis puffed on his pipe,” the AFP’s Joseph Eid wrote. “He looked out the window and he had a look on his face of a person watching a beautiful sunset. He sat there, puffing on his broken pipe and staring out the window as the music floated over the ruins of his house and the city outside.”

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