What seemed to be a start to a normal day with plans to venture off into the town for a walkabout with my camera (armed guard and translator in tow) was anything but normal.
Arriving home at close on midnight with Al Jezeera (spelling?) blurting out updates on bombings in the Middle East and USA intermingled with English Premier League updates. Our hosts had brought out some of the armory that was present in the house. The ever present Kalishnikov; the 9mm handgun; the shotgun and various other ‘light’ weaponry.
This was the day of challenging operative cases and even more challenging work conditions. At about mid morning there was a volley of semiautomatic fire directly outside the hospital followed by a patient carried with obvious signs of being bound and assaulted. That was not the problem. The problem was the group of bodyguards (fan-club?) who insisted on accompanying him into Casualty. Hospital guards, aware that the medical team was not that comfortable with level of personal protection armament (Syrians who are at war – ie everyone here- carry a weapon around like the average individual carries around a cell phone) attempted to keep the fan club outside. This attempt at separation lead to repeated arguments which were heated and animated ( including one walking stick brandishing elderly gentlemen assaulting the door to punctuate his point of view). However no one used their gun / semiautomatic to intimidate or threaten anyone.
Combine the above with more than 250 rounds of semiautomatic fire at the entrance to the hospital to celebrate ( the patient was a high level military leader who had been captured by outlaws?) the freeing of the patient.
The hospital was whittled down to a skeleton staff for a couple of hours while fears were allayed, people calmed and tears dried. Needless to say the stories are flying…
Anyway. This morning I find out if I get to stay a few extra days.