I’ve seen a lot of photos in my life. Photos of moments, ever fleeting. That’s usually how people talk about photos, in minute increments.
A moment in time.
Yet, the above photo is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It has to be one of the most thoroughly affecting & deeply disturbing images I’ve laid eyes on.
Consider the previous second:
What you’re looking at above is essentially the last second the three non-silhouetted men in the background were counted amongst the living.
A second in time. A second in Syria.
This is a few seconds, perhaps a moment, earlier:
Issa Aiash, his brother Ahmed and Sheihk Mamoud ‘laugh and joke as they clean their post’, according to Tracey Shelton, a correspondent for GlobalPost who was embedded with opposition forces, on the frontline, in order to shoot a story about life in war torn Aleppo.
The blast that took the lives of these three men came from a government tank.
As the cloud of smoke engulfed the street we ran back and frantically waited for the others to escape through the dust and debris. But no one came. In that split second, three men were reduced to broken, bleeding masses.
After a few minutes of disorientation, a vehicle arrived to transport the bodies. The survivors washed away the blood and flesh in a heartbreaking clean up.
New fighters came to take their posts. And the battle continued.
This is the cloud she spoke of.
All told, some 26,000 people have died in Syria since the uprising that began in March of 2011 gave way to full fledged civil war.
Regardless of whether you understand the nuances of the war, on a human level there’s something utterly shattering in seeing a sequence of images like this. Different than the gore, blood and suffering in the countless videos of makeshift hospitals that populate the internet and CNN’s broadcasts.
There’s a certain desensitization that goes with constantly seeing carnage.
Perhaps it’s the decidedly mundane inanity of sweeping clean a street surrounded by slaughter and wreckage that breathes life into these tragic images of death.
For an in depth breakdown of how Syria got to where it is today, check out an older NewsBurner story here