Photo: Tracy Sheldon / GlobalPost
ALEPPO, Syria — Earlier this week, I was filming a feature on life on the Frontlines of Aleppo, Syria. I was camping out with the men of Noor Den al-Zenke battalion, who man a two-block stretch of back streets that now forms the final line between government troops and opposition forces.
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This narrow street had become a makeshift home for the men. Lounge chairs salvaged from abandoned homes formed an area for chatting and drinking tea. Meals were prepared on a grass mat in the middle of the street. We slept in a room on the lower floor in case of air raids. Lookouts were posted at each street corner to both watch and listen for new sniper positions and approaching troops and tanks.
On this morning, the men were relaxed and joking around as they cleaned their area from a tank attack the day before. That time, they had been prepared and the tank had fired too short. This time, the assault came with little warning.
More from Tracey Shelton: Surviving Aleppo (VIDEO)
As the cloud of smoke engulfed the street we ran back and frantically waited for the others to escape through the cloud of smoke and debris. But no one came. In that split second, those three jovial men had been reduced to broken, bleeding masses.
After a few minutes of disorientation, the vehicle arrived to transport the bodies. The survivors washed away the blood and flesh in a heartbreaking clean up.
New fighters came to take their posts. And the battle continued.
From left to right: Issa Aiash, 30, father of three, his young brother Ahmed, 17, and Sheihk Mamoud, 42, father of a newborn son, laugh and joke as they clean their post Saturday.
It took several minutes before the dust cleared enough to check for more survivors, but there was nothing we could do.
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