He called me over and took my documents and after looking at them he asked me to wait while he used his walkie-talkie to summon a colleague. He suggested, and then insisted, that I sit on a plastic chair while we waited.
Andrew Sheehan is a pseudonym for a British journalist based in Damascus. We are protecting his identity so long as he remains in Syria.
The stormy winter weather that affected a number of areas in the Middle East last week also struck Damascus. For people here the inclement weather is especially hard to bear given the drastic shortage of heating fuel and cooking gas, and the worsening situation with regard to electricity.
01/18/2013 05:30 EST
As the civil war in Syria continues, a significant number of Syrians remain loyal to the embattled government of Bashar Al-Assad. One Christian friend explained to me that although they didn't like the current regime, they considered it inevitable that, should it fall, Syria would descend into a state of violent chaos reminiscent of Afghanistan or Somalia.
12/12/2012 12:20 EST
The Syrian government has now established a permanent network of surveillance over the old city. One night recently I was strolling through the souq and saw a figure walking slowly ahead of me in the poorly-lit passage, an object dangling from their arm. When I drew within a few paces, he started and turned quickly to face me, watching me closely as I passed.
11/23/2012 12:27 EST
The Sunday before last, a bomb exploded in Bab Touma Square in the middle of the morning, killing 13 people and injuring several others. While bombings of government targets and public spaces have become increasingly common over the last few months, this attack constituted the first of its kind in the old city since Syria's political crisis began in March last year.
11/09/2012 05:50 EST
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country as a direct result of the violence that has engulfed the country since the outbreak of the civil war. Meanwhile, many of those that have so far escaped the violence are suffering the economic consequences of the crisis and are thus trying desperately to find a way to escape the country.
10/24/2012 03:30 EDT
To the East of the old city there is a busy road that tanks and other military vehicles often drive along as they travel between the nearest base and whichever suburb they happen to be fighting in on a given day. Recently, a friend saw a tank drive down this road in a convoy with some other vehicles. On its side its crew had had spray-painted, in big white Arabic letters, "Assad! -- or we destroy the country."
10/05/2012 12:05 EDT
While many Syrians have suffered immensely during the current conflict, others continue to live much as before. One week, a young single mother and her two-year-old son came to stay in my house for a few days, her home destroyed and ransacked. Later that week, I went out and met a western friend for a drink in the old city. All of the girls were expensively and revealingly dressed and danced with their male companions seemingly unencumbered by their towering heels, while everyone was knocking back a range of exotic cocktails and shots.
09/20/2012 07:53 EDT
The sound of violence in surrounding suburbs has become a feature of life in Central Damascus. While the central parts of the capital have, for the most part, been spared the fighting that has beset some outer suburbs in recent months, residents here are frequently reminded of their precarious situation by the sound of explosions and gunfire emanating from surrounding suburbs.
09/04/2012 12:02 EDT
The atmosphere in Damascus' old city became just a little bit tenser at the start of the last week of Ramadan when Syrian army soldiers were deployed here for the first time since the revolution began in March last year. The soldiers were seemingly under orders to search various houses, especially those in which the few remaining foreigners live. The house I was staying in was one of them.
08/27/2012 05:20 EDT
In recent weeks the government has started to provide weapons to Syrian civilians from minority groups that they trust to remain loyal, such as Christians and the Druze, in order for them to defend their local areas against possible opposition attacks.
08/20/2012 12:07 EDT
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