ABC News’ Terry Moran and his team take a rare and dangerous journey into the embattled Syrian capital of Damascus for the special report: Inside Syria: The Battle for Damascus.
By Terry Moran
(DAMASCUS, Syria) — It’s just an ordinary place in Damascus – a hostel for visiting sports teams near the stadium – but death paid a visit Wednesday.
A rebel mortar shell fired from the suburbs blasted out windows and scattered shrapnel into the building, killing a young soccer player.
His teammate was in the room when it happened.
“We couldn’t save him,” he said.
His friend’s phone kept ringing – it was his friend’s widow – but he couldn’t bring himself to answer.
“We’re just athletes,” he said. “We want them all to stop fighting.”
But this war, like all wars, is merciless.
In Hamouriyah, a suburb just a few miles from the hostel, at least 13 people were killed in an apparent government airstrike.
And a rebel group released a video Wednesday that, the group said, shows members shooting down a Syrian jet fighter.
On Wednesday afternoon, we went to the main military hospital in Damascus. Syrian forces are taking heavy casualties in this war. As many as 16,000 have been killed.
There, we met Gen. Nidal Ibrahim, whose legs were badly shot up but who remains defiant about the war and the tactics his troops have used, which international human rights groups said include possible war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity.
“You must use terror against terror. Unfortunately, civilians are killed,” he said.
But life somehow continues in Damascus. You can still stroll through the old markets. We bought some nuts from a very enthusiastic merchant.
“I am Hamoud Rasheen! Syria strong!” he yelled.
At dusk, you can still enter the splendid Ummayad Mosque – an ancient house of God and oasis of peace. The people pray and the children play on an endless carpet while, outside, their nation drowns in the blood of civil war.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Joshua Berlinger and Kevin Wang, CNN Newswire
Greg Botelho, CNN Newswire