January 8, 2015
By Osama Abu Zeid and Brent Eng
AMMAN: The storm raging across Syria this week is exacerbating the plight of residents in opposition-controlled areas who have gone months–sometimes years– without access to water, electricity and a steady food supply.
Temperatures falling below zero degrees Celsius and heavy winds are sending Syrians encircled by regime forces to warm themselves in what was already a fuel-scarce environment.
In Al-Waer, the last rebel-controlled area of Homs city, an estimated 90,000 residents and fighters have been encircled by the regime for more than a year and half as various truce efforts fail to bring relief for civilians.
“Civilians depend on firewood for heating, which they purchase for SP90 [$0.40] per kilo,” a pro-opposition photographer in Al-Waer, who goes by the pseudonym Judi al-Homsi, told Syria Direct on Thursday. People have no choice, she says, because “they cannot cut firewood from the nearby forest due to regime barriers and snipers.”
Photo courtesy of Judi al-Homsi.
This week’s snowstorm drove one desperate Al-Waer resident to chop up his own house for firewood, as shown in a picture taken by al-Homsi Wednesday and given to Syria Direct Thursday.
The wood came from the remains of the man’s house, which he says was destroyed by regime bombing earlier in the week.
In Al-Waer, electricity is available for only four hours at a time, and comes randomly, al-Homsi added.
“The price of diesel, if there even is any, is SP700 [$3.87] per liter, even though one of the largest oil factories in Syria is located three kilometers from Al-Waer.”
Meanwhile, the regime and rebels entered talks this week for a new attempt at a ceasefire, the regime-affiliated newspaper Al-Watan reported Wednesday.
Previous attempts in 2014 repeatedly failed or collapsed after the terms were agreed upon, with both sides blaming each other.
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