WAR REPORTER: Rania Abouzeid gained unprecedented access to the heart of the Syrian conflict by clandestinely entering Syria over a number of years. No Turning Back tells the Syrians stories.
Francesca Borri
Italian journalist and writer. She contributes regularly to Modern Times Review.
Published date: October 1, 2018
No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria
Author: Rania Abouzeid
Norton & Co. 2018,

In war the dead are just numbers. In Syria they are not even that. Airstrikes are too relentless, too dangerous, the UN explained in 2013. Verifying sources is too complex a task and so rather than stopping the war it stopped counting the dead.

Analysts tracked 500,000 casualties. Others say there were more than double. Others say nothing, like Assad. They say the dead are mannequins.

«That’s what remains of war, in the end and forever: this feeling that it’s all random.»

Getting lost in the conflict

Australian journalist Rania Abouzeid has been reporting from Syria for all major newspapers. Being of Arab descent, she has blended in more and been able to go deeper than the rest of us. And like many of us, she has now tried to save from oblivion the Syrians she was impressed by the most, weaving their lives together into a book.

It’s quite strange to read each other’s works. To remember other Syrians who told us the same words – recurrent remarks, recurrent details – or even others we never wrote of. Others who vanished instead. That’s what remains of war, in the end and forever: this feeling that it’s all random. Getting killed or not. Getting your story told or being forgotten. This feeling that history keeps going either way, without you.

That you are actually insignificant.

You think you have friends, relatives. Certainties. Sometimes it all crumbles, sometimes it doesn’t – it’s random. But it’s just an illusion anyway. The reality of life is that you are simply alone. And actually that is what there’s no turning back from. Ever.

How can we help you?

‘No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria’ By Rania Abouzeid

Since the beginning of the conflict the world asks Syrians, «How can we help you?» For young men like Abu Azzam – 28 years old, a student of literature of Homs who has never fired a gun before but will turn into a commander of the Farouq Battalions (one of the strongest of the rebel groups of the Free …

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