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ICC Note: “I hope they are still safe but as you know especially in my city nobody is safe” an ICC contact said of his family who lives in Aleppo. The city has been one of the central battlegrounds in the conflict that has worn on for two plus years.
By Lava Selo
9/06/2013 Syria (NPR) It’s a typical day — which means it’s a very dangerous one — at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing point that separates the eastern part of Aleppo that’s held by Syrian rebels and the western part that’s held by President Bashar Assad’s army.
Despite the risks, street vendors still shout about their merchandise on offer and residents carry on with their daily shopping. An old man urges his wife to hurry so they can cross back to the other side before trouble erupts, which it does with regularity.
Suddenly, a sniper begins to fire and people start running and hiding behind walls or dashing onto side streets. The shooting gets heavier and machine guns join the noisy exchange of fire.
People wait patiently until the shooting stops and the crossing point opens again, allowing residents to go home to the areas controlled by the government forces.
This used to be a main road connecting two neighborhoods in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial capital. But heavy fighting broke out in Aleppo more than a year ago. With the battle now largely a stalemate, Aleppo has been cleaved in two.
And for more than two months now, this crossing on Karaj al-Hajaz street — which residents call the Death Crossing — has been the only point that links the two parts of the city.
The government checkpoint and the rebel checkpoint are barely 100 yards apart. Thousands of people cross back and forth every day to work, shop, go to school and visit relatives. They complain that they risk arrest when they go through the government checkpoint and they sometimes face harassment or even kidnapping for ransom on the rebel side.
“I have become used to going back and forth, and to the snipers,” says a 25-year-old activist who asked that she not be named for safety reasons. “I have reached a point where I am more scared of getting arrested than being shot by a sniper.”

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