ALEPPO, Syria — Its base comes from a tractor, two rusty poles and random pieces collected in a glassworks. To assemble this mortar, nothing has been wasted. It's been built by downloading instructions from Google. "For grenades, I used even the fertilizer of my wife's flowers," said Firas with a smile. He is 43, and in his previous life was a sales manager in a car dealership. Now he introduces himself as "the mortar manager."
This is Aleppo today. The war is so normal here, so familiar that garbage bins mark the front line of fighting on one side of a street, while on the other they’re used as goalposts for an improvised soccer match. Snipers have shifts. You can see them reaching their nest in the morning, coffee in hand, and parking in front of the main door as if they were going to work.