Aleppo is Syria’s largest metropolitan area and a millennia-old commercial capital. Today, however, it is a relative ghost town, threatened by regime bombing from the air and a militant offensive on the ground. For two weeks over the summer, VICE News embedded with the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist rebels fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad on one hand, and Islamic State militants on the other. From their secret tunnels beneath the ancient city to their threatened frontline outposts in Aleppo’s ruined medieval centre, VICE NEWS followed the Islamic Front as, against overwhelming odds, they battled to retain control of the capital of the Syrian revolution.
I have to admit that I understand almost nothing about the religion and politics behind these kinds of conflict, but it’s fascinating to see the underlying humanity. All of these men seem like decent people defending their homes by bombing the other side, all in the name of God. It’s very strange, and very sad. If God is real, I can see why he doesn’t hang around here any more.