HAREM, Syria — Before the civil war, Ramiz Moussa was a middle-class civil servant who processed fines for littering, illegal construction and disturbing the peace in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
Now, the 40-year-old squats with other rebels in damaged, abandoned homes in this embattled town. He rarely sees his family and thinks of little beyond the next attack on government soldiers.
“We no longer count the days," he said, standing in a rubble-strewn alley, with a rifle and two rocket-propelled grenades. “Today we’re in a battle, but we can’t remember when it started, much less the past battles. You could ask me what day it is, but I can’t tell you."
A dark realization is spreading across northern Syria that despite 20 months of violence and recent rebel gains, an end to the war to topple President Bashar Assad is nowhere in sight.
As a result, civilians and rebel fighters are digging in, building an infrastructure to secure rebel towns, care for the wounded and escalate the fight against Assad’s forces.