“They killed my mother and father. I will kill them with my knife. I will kill them like I would kill a goat,” says Kachadur Manukian, the 25 year old Syrian fighter above. The darkly vignetted image is the work of photojournalist Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini, who spent 2012 with Syrian rebels as they fought against soldiers loyal to the regime.
Aleppo, Syria 2012:
As the fight between the soldiers loyal to the regime and the members of the Free Syrian Army intensifies along the front lines of the besieged city of Aleppo, a selected group of rebels pose in front of the camera and answers one question: “What do you carry?”. They have entered the highly contested area of Ramussen, one of Aleppo’s regime controlled neighborhoods, to fight against a fully equipped Syrian tank battalion. On the first day of their mission, they have lost two men and have had four injuries. Hidden in the basement of a abandoned factory building they wait for resupplies and more fighters.
Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini’s dark photographs give us a glimpse into a country torn apart by war and the stark realities its fighters face each day. His question gives us a surprising diversity of answers, with the items they carry ranging from tools to keep them connected with family, to tools for blowing up enemies. Their brief statements also give us a surprisingly deep look at the way they are coping with the the horrors of war. See more of Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini’s mature body of work at sebastianotomada.com.
Aiman Swade, 31: “I am the leader of these fighters. My radio is what I carry with me all the time. It’s how I organize and direct operations. Besides that, I carry my family’s memories. They all died in Al Bab.”
Omar Fattah, 29: “Before the war, my father gave me this custom-made AK-47 machine gun. I will bring it back to him once we have defeated the regime.”
Youssef, 28: “My homemade grenades. I am the only one in our group able to build them. The guys like me for that. It’s my mark, and I want to leave one.”
Abou Abdou, 25: “I’m in charge of our bombs. I make them, I dismantle them, and I use the enemy’s own artillery to kill them. I like bombs because they tickle my ears when they explode. It’s a nice feeling.”
Isham, 19: “Cigarettes.”
Ahmed Alsayin, 29: “I would go crazy without my phone. My fiancée expects me to call her once a day.”
Isham Kijaje, 30: “I always carry my RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. The commanders told me it would be my duty.”
Abdoullah, 21: “This PK machine gun. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s always jamming.”
Hamzi Hama, 27: “All I can carry is my weapon and the clothes I wear. I don’t have time for other belongings. I don’t even carry my wallet anymore; what can I buy?”