Damascus: Behind the battle lines

Tens of thousands of Syrians have lost their lives in the country's escalating conflict and the bloody internal battle has forced hundreds of thousands more to flee their country of birth.

Yet many have remained and are trying to carry on with their daily lives. Here, six residents of Damascus speak of how they go about living amid the violence.

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We have to work, we have to open every day in the morning. We are looking for the good days, we are looking for peace”

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Samir Bakdash, 36, manager of Bakdash Ice Cream Parlour, Damascus's Old City

Samir describes the challenges the family faces in keeping the shop open

Samir, a father-of-three, is the third generation of his family to run their popular ice cream business based in the busy Damascus souk.

Founded in 1895 by his grandfather in what was the family home, the business has since expanded across the Middle East, with shops in the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon.

Samir works alongside his father, Mwafak, and, despite the violence around them and the challenge of finding ingredients, their shop remains open.

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My husband works as a taxi driver, so when he goes out I worry all day long. I worry about what would become of me and my children if something happened to him”

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Moaina Awad, 30, housewife, al-Adawi

Moaina worries about her husband when he leaves home to work as a taxi driver

Moaina and her husband, Mohammed, have three children - Sham, aged three-and-a-half, Ali, aged two-and-a-half, and Yasmin, aged 18 months.

Their home in Al Adawi is in a safe area but it is close to the suburb of Jobar, which sees heavy fighting between government and opposition forces.

Moaina has seen life become more and more difficult and worries about her husband when he leaves home to work as a taxi driver.

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Everything is ok here in Damascus”

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Loai, 35, PR manager for the Arab Parliamentary Union, Mezzeh

Loai speaks about losing his job

Loai, who lives in the suburb of Mezzeh, goes to a cafe in the upmarket shopping area of Malki with his friends every day.

He describes how he lost his job recently because his office closed over security fears.

However, he says he is making the best of it by spending time with family and friends and riding his horses.

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We can't leave our country - we have to stay ”

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Hadeel Deiry, 17, high school student, Mezzeh East

Hadeel Deiry says she is determined to stay in her home country

Hadeel is from Old Damascus, but now lives and studies in the suburb of Mezzeh East.

She is currently taking her science baccalaureate and wants to go to university to study to be an engineer. Her hobbies are basketball and graphic design.

She says the sadness of the conflict around her means life is difficult - especially as many of her friends have moved away. But she is determined to stay in her home country, for better or worse.

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I stopped smoking three or four years ago, but now I've started again because of all the stress”

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Mwafak, 66, retired textiles trader, Barzeh

Mwafak describes how life has become more and more expensive

Mwafak used to live and work in Kuwait but returned to Syria three years ago with his wife and five children.

He now lives in a government-controlled part of the large Damascus neighbourhood of Barzeh. There is heavy fighting in nearby opposition areas.

He describes how life has become more and more expensive, with some items costing 10 times the amount they did three years ago.

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It's been a year since I last saw my friends. I don't know where they are”

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Haitham, 15, student, Jaramana

Damascus student Haitham tells how he misses his friends

Haitham and his family have just arrived in Damascus's south-eastern district of Jaramana. They are among many to have fled the fighting in the town of Irbin in southern Syria and are now living in a shelter.

Haitham has not been to school for over a year, but attends a special NGO-run centre for children affected by the conflict.

He speaks of missing his friends and his desire to return to his hometown.

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Syria reporting by Kate Benyon-Tinker, Phil Goodwin and Lana Antaki. Web production by Lucy Rodgers and Mark Bryson.

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