“In February 2018 the Syrian government, backed by Russian air power, led an atrocious military operation in civilian neighborhoods in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. I tried to cover this attack in Douma city, where I took this picture. I was with friends when there was an airstrike targeting four buildings very close to my family’s home. I went and checked my family, then went to the building, the remnants of which are in the photo. Many people were missing under rubble, and their relatives tried helplessly to rescue them with help of the civilian rescuers, the White Helmets. I saw this man who was waiting for the rescue of his relatives from the rubble and, at that moment I took this photo, he was jumping over his uncle’s car. The man’s son and his uncle survived the bombing, but his wife and the other children were found dead after hours of searching. Over the years of the Syrian Uprising, I moved between Damascus and Douma until 2013, when I could not travel because of security checkpoints around the city. I want this picture to show how badly the airstrikes damaged the building and the street, that there were people jumping over their own damaged belongings looking for anything to lead them to the location where their families were buried.”
Editor’s note: Photographer Bassam Khabieh is the 2018 Oak Human Rights Fellow at Colby. He is now in Turkey and expected to come to Colby in the fall.