Now, despite the danger from above, rebels appear to control what happens on the ground. Checkpoints dot the streets and all who pass through might be questioned as to why they are there. Sometimes they don't allow people to pass, either for their safety or because they fear that they might be thieves. At one checkpoint, the rebel fighters grab two teenage boys accused of stealing cigarettes and handcuff them together.
“Either martyrdom or death.”
And when pushed for an answer: “Whatever God intends.”
But their military plan is summed up by one word: resistance.
Over on 15th Street, Sheik Tawfeeq Shahab Deen, a religious leader who is the military commander on the street, sits on a plastic chair surrounded by eager fighters. At the end of the street, gray smoke rises from an apartment building just hit by a tank shell.
The intersections are fraught with risk as snipers shoot at anything that crosses. “We should attack the tall buildings and liberate them so the snipers can't shoot at us,” one young man says.
“What are you saying?” Deen says. “Right now holding our ground is our strongest weapon. Also our resistance in the last few days sends a message.”
An emaciated kitten sits expectantly at his feet, nudging a small box of bullets with its nose. These are the few weapons and supplies that have come to them from the military council based in the safer suburbs.
The men trying to save Dikyan drive desperately to the adjacent rebel-controlled neighborhood of Sukari.
They reach Al Quds hospital, which has been taken over by a tiny pro-opposition medical team, and carry him inside. Rebel fighters, AK-47s slung over their shoulders, stand around the entrance unfazed; this is not an unusual sight.
“There's a doctor inside, but he's a gynecologist,” one of the staffers says.
Dikyan had been hit by shrapnel or a bullet near his crotch and is bleeding internally. He requires surgery and a blood transfusion, but they don't dare take him to a hospital in a government-controlled neighborhood.
“So we leave him here to die?” a relative of Dikyan asks no one in particular.
His blood type is O-positive and none is available, so Dikyan is given a transfusion of another type.
No one expects him to survive.