Darim! Darim! Wake up, the army approaches! Darim and a group of about 20 other rebels had been waiting for the army convoy all night. Darim scrambled to his feet and picked up the detonator. He was the one chosen to begin the ambush. It was a clear, warm night on the outskirts of Aleppo, where the rebels waited on the hills either side of the main highway leading into the city. All was silent until the rumble of the trucks and humvees transporting infantry and weapons to the governments forces could be heard in the distance. There was a flurry of excitement and fear among the rebels who were not used to combat. Darim on the other hand lay patiently with his finger on the detonator, quiet as a mouse. The convoy drew closer and closer. Behind Darim sat Abbas, who was very much on edge. ‘Do it!’ Exclaimed Abbas.
‘If they get any closer they will see us! Blow it now!’ Darim was waiting for the perfect moment to set off the C4. ‘Dammit Darim, Do it!’ Abbas who thought Darim had lost his nerve lunged at him and tried to pull the detonator from his hand.
BOOM! The explosives went off. However, they detonated too early and missed the convoy, who were now aware of the attack. The rebels had lost the element of surprise and were outnumbered by the government forces. The tide of this battle had turned. There was fierce fighting between the two sides. Men were being gunned down on both sides, including Darim who was hit dead in the chest 3 times. He lay on the ground, his vision was blurred and his ears were ringing. Numb to the death the destruction around him. He thought this was the end.
Darim awoke in a room that was as black as night. He had an insufferable pain in his chest and his head was throbbing. He looked down and he was wearing the shredded remnants of his uniform, soaked in blood. Although he couldn’t see anyone, he did not feel alone in the room. He tried to stand up but he soon realized his wrists were tied to the arms of the chair. He then heard a voice from behind him. ‘So, you are finally awake. I understand you are the man who lead the attack on my men outside Aleppo?’ Darim remained silent. ‘So you don’t want to talk? I’m sure a good beating with fix that. Put him in with the others.’ The man left the room through a door out of Darim’s view. Darim then felt two men grab him and drag him out of the room, down a long hallway, and dump him in a cramped cell that stunk of death. The cell had a wet, dirty floor, with concrete walls on three sides and no windows.
It was not until the heavy barred door was shut behind him that he noticed the man lying in the corner. ‘Darim, I should have you of all people would survive.’ ‘Abbas?’ ‘Happy to see me?’ A wry grin spread across Abbas’ face,which just like his fellow rebel, was stained with dried blood. ‘If we were not in trapped in here I would kill you. This was all your fault. This is not the time for bickering though, we need to get out of here, tonight.’ ‘And you have a plan?’ ‘We can improvise. I’ll call the guard over, then you just have to follow my lead.’
‘Hey fatty! Get over here, I’m thirsty, go and get me a drink.’ The guard waddled over and he was not happy. Once he reached the cell door, Darim pounced from behind the wall. In a matter of a few seconds the guard lay lifelessly on the floor with a snapped neck and Darim was taking the key from his corpse and carefully sliding the door open. He looked left then right. The hall was clear and he made his way out of the cell with Abbas in tow. They swiftly and silently made there way through the compound, looking for a way out. 10 minutes had passed until, by pure luck, they came across the armory. Moments later, the rebels were armed and ready for a fight.
Darim carried on, as determined and focused as ever, but Abbas was beginning to panic. They eventually reached a large door that led outside. Darim turned to Abbas. ‘Are you ready for this?’ ‘Darim, I can’t do this, we’re never getting out of here, we’re going to die!’ Darim lashed out at his partner. He hit him repeatedly in a desperate attempt to knock some sense into him. ‘If you are going to give up and not even try to get out of here, I should just kill you now. In the name of Allah, pull yourself together and let’s get out of here.’ Abbas calmed himself and uttered the words ‘I am ready’
The door slowly swung open. The rebels, crawled past the patrols towards the fence on the right side of the compound. When they reached the 15 feet high wire fence, Darim drew a bolt cutter he acquired in the armory. He began to work on the fence while Abbas kept watch. It was not long until there was a gap large enough for a man to squeeze under. They were so close now.
Out of nowhere, a jet darted overhead and carpeted the base with rockets. ‘It’s the rebels!’ screamed Darim. The jet attack was soon followed by helicopters and armored cars overrunning the base. In the panic of the assault, Abbas and Darim became the least of the army’s problems. In a matter of seconds the base was engulfed in violence and bullets were flying. Darim was now under and out the far side of the wire fence. Abbas was next. He lay on the dry, dusty ground as he shuffled through the hole. A shot rang out. For Darim, the world seemed to stand still. He looked down to see Abbas motionless in the dirt. A sea of red flowed from his body and spread until he was lying on a sea of thick, crimson. Darim turned and ran. He ran further and further into the desert. An hour had passed until Darim reached a small village. He entered the local restaurant and sat down, before breaking into tears. He felt an overwhelming wave of guilt sweep through him. He shouldn’t have left Abbas who was now lying, face down, in the dirt. Still he was grateful. He had survived. It was a lucky escape.