my first day in damascus


Yesterday was my first day in Damascus for The New York Times. Together with reporter Anne Barnard, I traveled here to show the civilians and daily life of people living under the regime.

In many ways, the people of Damascus are trying to continue life-as-normal. People go to work and school, day-time traffic is bustling, restaurants are still operating. But at night the streets are empty. And everything is done with the clear sound of shelling, incoming and outgoing, in the background.

Our first day here we witnessed the aftermath of a bombing at the Damascus University Faculty of Engineering where at least 12 students died at an outdoor cafe. The surviving students seemed to be in a state of shock. Not only by the loss of their close friends but also by the reality of the situation now in front of them.

Ruaa Salam, 21, mourns the loss of her friends who died in an explosion at the Damascus University Faculty of Engineering where she also received minor injuries. They were hanging out at a cafe when the mortar fell.


Students leave the university after classes were cancelled when a mortar landed at a cafe at the university. The Dean said 12 students died in the explosion.

Shooting is not easy. Freedom of the press, especially cameras, is not something people are familiar with here. But the government seems to be somewhat open to finally providing a window into the lives of the millions of people still living in and around their capital city. I hope they continue to keep their doors open to us.

© Andrea Bruce, 29 March 2013.

Feature image: Syrian soldiers and investigators survey the scene where a mortar landed at a cafe at the Damascus University Faculty of Engineering in Damascus Thursday 28 March, Syria. Andrea Bruce for The New York Times.

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