Five years after the Syrian civil war began, images of bombings, destruction and suffering continue to dominate the coverage on television screens. Before the war, the ancient city of Aleppo was Syria’s largest city and the country’s financial heart.
Anti-government fighters partially controlled the city for some time, but have lost much of it after intense Russian airstrikes in support of Syrian government forces.
Once a bustling city of two million, Aleppo is now a war zone, mortared and shelled into oblivion – a city under attack and under siege. Many have been killed and many more have fled.
But what about those who have stayed? Those who are trapped inside? Away from the battlefront, what has life become for the people of Aleppo?
This is what renowned Syrian photographer Ammar Abd Rabbo has tried to capture in his latest exhibition.
Rabbo is one of the Arab world’s most prominent photographers.
For the past 20 years, he has witnessed some of the most profound political changes in the Middle East and made intimate portraits of heads of states.
From Libya, to Iraq, to Lebanon, his works have been published in the world’s most widely-circulated publications, earning him numerous awards and accolades.
Over the last few years, Ammar Abd Rabbo has travelled to Aleppo several times to bring back images – snapshots of everyday life that not only remind us of the impact of the ongoing Syrian war, but also show the strength and resilience of the people of Aleppo.
His photos show that live still goes on in war-torn Aleppo despite the war, destruction and devastation.
“It [Aleppo] used to be once a city where Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together, not always in love and harmony, but at least [they] lived together and built and created an amazing city. Today, it [the city] is wounded, it’s bleeding, but it’s still very lively,” says Rabbo.
“It’s shelling, it’s under terrible moments and violence, and still people send their kids to school. It says a lot about the resilience and the resistance of the people – it’s a form of resistance to say ‘school is important’…,” says Rabbo and adds, “the mindset has changed, the people have changed, but there is still hope. None of them think ‘we wish we didn’t do that, we wish we didn’t shout, we wish we didn’t demonstrate’. You don’t hear that at all.”
Syrian photographer Ammar Abd Rabbo talks to Al Jazeera about his work as war photographer, the challenges of documenting the Syrian war, and what everyday life is like for the children, merchants and soldiers of Aleppo.
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