Aleppo, Syria - Recent


Syria's civil war has drawn combatants from all walks of life and a former English teacher has joined the ranks as a sniper with at least three kills.

Givara used to teach children English and help run a secondary school in Syria's most populous city of Aleppo.

Now, the 37 year old mother and wife has taken up arms against President Bashar al-Assad's forces, trading her classroom for the frontline in Aleppo.

She said it was an easy decision to make.

"I have children," she explained, holding onto a sniper gun next to her, "I don't want to see my children pieces of flesh.'

Fierce street battles, shelling and air attacks left much of once bustling Aleppo's Salahuddin neighbourhood shattered, forcing many residents to flee the area.

Residents and rebels claim snipers loyal to Assad took positions on rooftops and fired indiscriminately.

Givara stayed behind with her husband, also a rebel fighter, and decided to put up a fight by tackling the pro-government snipers.

Her husband supported her decision but, at first, it was not easy to persuade other rebels that she is up to the job.

"They told me 'It's very difficult for you as a woman to fight," she said, "but I said ' No. You want to defend your life, I want to defend my life."

Even though her decision to join the fight against Assad's rule was met with disapproval from her own father, she remained undeterred.

Salahuddin, a strategic district considered to be one of the vital supply route for government troops, has been the focus of the combat between forces loyal to president Assad and rebels since last July.

Everyday life for those who remained in the neighbourhood is a struggle.

To protect themselves from the view of pro-government snipers, residents placed large blankets across the road intersections.

Shattered buildings near the front line are mainly deserted, and shortages of water and other supplies are common.