In War-Torn Syria, Secrets and Double Lives
Every morning, Amjad goes through two army checkpoints to attend a school run by the Syrian government. Every night, he sits by his father’s side to plot attacks to bring that government down.
Amjad doesn’t see the strangeness of his predicament - reciting chants of loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad in the army-controlled city where his school is, and going home to a village where everyone knows his father’s rebel unit just blew up an Assad tank convoy.
To the scrawny 16-year-old, living a double life has become the norm, as it has for many as the country’s 19-month-old uprising descends into civil war.
“Sometimes at the checkpoints when they see where I come from they ask me about certain rebels from my village, to test me, but I haven’t messed up yet. Or they make me say if I’m pro or anti, so I say I’m pro-Assad,” says Amjad.
His school is one of the few still functioning in the war-torn northern Idlib province, and he asked that his village not be named for fear of exposing his identity.
“It’s humiliating, but my dad insists I finish my studies, he doesn’t want my future destroyed because of the revolution.”
When Syria’s revolt began as a peaceful protest movement, many participants said it was a moment when hidden views were shared honestly for the first time. They described it as a time that brought fellow Syrians together.
But Assad’s crackdown has transformed their movement into a bloody armed revolt and the conflict, in which more than 32,000 people have died, is tearing the country apart, dividing friends and families and spinning a web of secrets between neighbors.