Jobar: 'Death is a central part of their daily lives'

Jobar: 'Death is a central part of their daily lives'
From Al Jazeera - July 17, 2017

As the war in Syria enters its seventh year, the uprising that began in 2011 and the subsequent armed opposition that surfaced has slowly withered away, with many towns and villages reaching agreements with the Syrian government to give up the areas they were fighting for.

While the city of Damascus has remained under government control throughout the war, residents of the suburb of Jobar took up arms to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The besieged town has built a vast system of underground tunnels that have served as a lifeline for civilians and fighters. They have managed to continue their daily lives, building schools in shelters and passages to nearby towns for food and other basic supplies.

For several months a group of filmmakers, led by exiled Syrian director Maher Jamous, have been living and working amid Jobarians to document their struggle and to find outwhy they are so determined not to give way.

Al Jazeera spoke to Maher Jamous about the making of the documentary and the battle for Jobar.

Al Jazeera: Why did you choose Jobar to focus on? What is special about Jobar?

Jamous:What happened in Jobar took place in many other Syrian towns. Every day that the Syrian crisis developed, we saw more and more foreign intervention. Without a doubt, most of the towns and villages that surrounded Damascus saw the townspeople themselves take up arms. In Jobar specifically, there are no foreign fighters - it's the people of the town who are fighting.

There were a set of evacuation agreements with the Syrian government and we saw the towns fall to government control, one after the other.

The only difference was that most of these towns, almost all, reached a point where they could not sustain themselves and continue with the sieges being imposed on them by government forces.

To save civilians, opposition fighters struck agreements with the government and fighters were expelled from many towns.

But Jobar continues to resist.Jobar, until today, is persevering. The families maintain that they will not give up or bow down. They say "we will triumph or die".

What made Jobar different as well is that it is in the heart of Damascus, which is one of the main reasons why I chose Jobar. It means that the regime - despite all its claims - is not in complete control of the capital.

READ MORE:Syria's civil war explained from the beginning

Al Jazeera: Can you tell us about the making of the film? How did you get the equipment into Jobar?

Jamous: I got in touch with some of the people I knew in Jobar. Most of them were very active during the uprising, taking pictures and videos and publishing them online.

After speaking with them about life in Jobar, I found that it really deserved being highlighted. So webegan to collect information about people in the neighbourhood. They would send me profiles of different people and their stories.

We began working online and developing our ability to communicate. Wesent them internet routers and other equipment toensure they would have internet access and could send us the material.

At the same time, we were sending them equipment to film: cameras, a stabiliser, etc.


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