Jon Lee Anderson checks in on Syria's civilians:
The Syrians living in Damascus and Aleppo are now accustomed to sudden and unexplained battles in their neighborhoods, killings, roadblocks, and security checks. Most are dealing with these vicissitudes privately, out of fear of causing offense to one side or another and in the hopes that it will soon pass, like some kind of pernicious storm. But people are losing friends in the combat, and to the thugs who operate in packs, silently killing people who are suspected of one thing or another, in blindfolded groups, by day and by night. This sadly brutal conflict, now eighteen months old, has a tally estimated at some thirty thousand dead, and the death rate has a dismal upward spiral.
Toby Muse also looks at how civilians are weathering the civil war:
As the war for Aleppo has dragged on, as rebels have pushed forward and then seen many advances lost, a change seems to have come over the opposition neighborhoods. In the first days of the rebels’ assault, YouTube videos show civilians happily smiling, giving peace signs to the camera. Now, it’s the rare civilian that allows themselves to be photographed or interviewed. Civilians now fear retribution from a government that once must have looked like it had just weeks left.
(Photo: The blood-stained hand of a killed civilian is seen as his body lies outside a hospital following an air strike by regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo on October 8, 2012. By Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)