Conflict & Justice

Starry nights and empty streets in Idlib: PHOTOS

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A Ferris wheel stands in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

At night, Idlib, Syria, has a wondrous glow. In fact, the atmosphere is so stark that the stars appear especially bright. It looks sleepy, peaceful.

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But the rebel-held city, where the streets are eerily quiet once darkness falls, may soon be in harm’s way — as the possible next target of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military offensive.

Now that Syrian government forces have recaptured Aleppo in a crushing campaign, many suggest they are likely to turn their attentions to Idlib.

Thousands of refugees from Aleppo have been evacuated there, and UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has warned the city could face the same fate as Aleppo.

Damaged buildings stand in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

The night sky is seen through damaged windows in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Idlib was bustling with people before the Syrian war began in 2011, but now, few residents venture outside their homes at night.

Damaged buildings stand in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Sometimes aircraft can be heard overhead. Syrian and Russian warplanes and helicopters have carried out strikes for months against rebels in Idlib province, which lies to the southwest of Aleppo.

A damaged building stands in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Resident Abdullah Haj Asaad, 29, says he no longer sends clothes from his sewing shop to the markets at night.

"Nowadays, we can only send the finished goods in the morning, cars stop driving at night because of thieves and bandits fearing looting and theft," he said.

Damaged buildings stand in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

"In case of emergencies we can get out at night, but that's still very risky. ... I used to go out with my friends to cafes at night and stay up until dawn, we never used to check our watches."

But now "we hang out at a different friend's house every weekend and sleep over until morning," he added. 

A mosque stands in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah

This is another view of a mosque that stands in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

A vehicle drives past a mosque at night in Idlib, Syria.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

A digger stands amid the rubble in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

The city of Idlib is seen at night.

Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters