For those who decided to remain in Syria, trips outside the house were limited to the essentials. Instead of sending one member to collect the day’s allowance, entire families queued at bakeries to stock up on bread, said Nour, 22, who lives in Damascus’s old city.
“We didn’t manage to get any,” she said. “The bakery at the end of the street was too crowded. Usually you can wait for two or three hours, but today, the line stretched across the street endlessly.”
After about 21
2 years of conflict, the population of the divided Syrian capital expressed a mixture of defiance, hope, fear and resignation at the prospect of Western military action in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack last week.
Activists hope that strikes might spell the beginning of the end for the regime, despite assertions from Western governments that toppling Assad is not their goal.
“If it’s going to spare lives of innocent people and finish Assad forever, let it be,” said Susan Ahmad, an activist with the Revolutionary Command Council.
She said five military checkpoints between the Damascus neighborhood of Mazzeh and the suburb of Saboura were dismantled Wednesday, presumably to give the West fewer targets to attack. Rebels also reported checkpoint closures on the Beirut-Damascus highway.
“We never wanted foreign intervention,” Ahmad said. “But the tyrant wanted it this way.”
On the other side of the political spectrum, there was resolution.
“Bring it on,” said Salma, a 24-year-old resident of the Jdaidat Artouz neighborhood who supports the government. “I believe that no matter how strong the American army and weapons are, the [Syrian] military has forever trained for war.”
Liz Sly and Suzan Haidamous contributed to this report.