GAZIANTEP, Turkey — "Quiet! If somebody from the Free Syrian Army passes by, they will arrest us," one of the smugglers says.
Mojahed Abo Aljood, a young Syrian journalist trying to escape Aleppo, is frightened. The armed smugglers in the vehicle, who are supposed to be helping them flee, sound suspiciously like men fighting for the Syrian regime. "If the Free Syrian Army would arrest us, who does it mean these people are?" he wonders.
It's December, 2016, and four years of revolutionary forces having control of eastern Aleppo have just come to a dramatic end. Now, Mojahed, 23, is being driven out from the country, escorted by three smugglers. He knows that it's unlikely he'll be able to return to Aleppo, the city he loves, for many years.
Mojahed was careful to select a smuggler able to guarantee a safe and easy passage into Turkey. For this service, he has paid a deposit of $1,500. He will need to pay the other half once he's in Turkey. It's most of the money he has managed to save over the past couple of years for his high-risk work as a journalist in Aleppo. But the journey is turning out to be far more complicated than he ever expected…
Read Mojahed's full story, based on a detailed interview in Gaziantep, on Medium.