UPDATED MARCH 1, 2012
Photographer Alessio Romenzi, who risked his life over and over again to bear witness to the civilian casualties in the cities of Homs and al-Qsair, has managed to safely cross the border into Lebanon from Syria. Romenzi, on assignment for TIME, has filed new photographs, which have been added to the gallery above, from the embattled country where he spent more than a month. Speaking to TIME from Beirut, Romenzi said it was bittersweet to leave Syria. “I spent so much time with such amazing, amazing human beings,” he said. “I had the privilege to go out. They are still inside the shame.”
FEB. 15 — The forces of President Bashar Assad have been relentless. They have continued to pound the predominantly Sunni enclave of Bab Amr in the city of Homs. They have struck at the rebellious town of Zabadani near the Lebanese border. Damascus is believed to be planting landmines near the Lebanese and Turkish borders even as the regime masses more troops nearby to deal with insurrectionists in the Idlib region in the northwest of the country. Meanwhile, in al-Qsair, a town south of Homs, government marksmen continued to take their toll. Says Alessio Romenzi, a photographer on assignment in the area for TIME: “The snipers do not sleep.”
Romenzi continues to document the work of the Free Syrian Army, a loose franchise of militias who are trying to coordinate their disparate campaigns against the Bashar government. Slowly, they are gathering weapons—though the increased demand for guns has kicked up the prices of Kalashnikovs. TIME’s Rania Abouzeid spent a day with FSA sympathizers trying to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to use against Damascus’ forces. Other FSA cells have already started using their own strung together versions of IEDs. The targets may include military trucks which will then be used to block roads to impede government supply lines. But most of all, they hope the IEDs will stop Assad’s tanks, which have been used not only to blast rebel emplacements but also reportedly to crush the regime’s opponents—physically.
More photographs from Syria by Alessio Romenzi can be seen here.
Read more about the situation in Syria in the magazine: Syria’s Clashing Armies