Residents in Syria's capital 'stuck in the middle' as civil war closes in
September 19, 2012 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
- "I am worried sick ... but there is nothing we can do," a woman in Damascus says
- Another worries about how to respond to regime or rebel fighters who might stop her
- Artillery shells explode just a few miles away from busy city streets
Damascus, Syria (CNN) -- After 18 months of violent unrest, clouds of black smoke suggest conflict is closing in on Syria's capital.
On the streets of Damascus, no one flinches when artillery shells explode just a few miles away. Residents who support neither the government nor the opposition say the situation is out of their control.
"Every day, we are hearing this boom, boom and everything else, but there is life that is going on," said Rama Hamdi, seeking a bit of normalcy at a beauty salon. "I am worried sick about it, but there is nothing we can do."
Jolie visits Syria refugees in Iraq
Despite an abundance of people at an ancient bazaar, several storekeepers say business is down. They said they are afraid to talk on camera, worried about what the government might say and what the rebels might do to them.
The 'red line' between the U.S. & Syria
Finding a solution in Syria
When asked about the shelling heard in the background, the storekeepers say they are afraid because they think the war is getting closer.
And they're right. Destruction from when government forces chased the rebel Free Syrian Army lies just a 10-minute drive away.
On many days, the reported death toll from around the capital is far higher than from areas surrounding other cities.
"Nowadays, I cannot go to the countryside without being worried someone will stop me," said Rauda Alaita, the salon owner. "Is it the real army or the other army stopping me? What answer should I answer them with (about) who I am? Now it's really difficult because you are stuck in the middle."
At a news conference under the banner of unity -- and in an array of anything but united -- opposition figures called for talks with the government.
War clouds start of school year in Syria
There is an air of urgency here as speakers discuss how the situation is worse than it was a year ago. They say they need to be united and need to speak with a common voice. Even as these talks are going on, here you can hear a blast in the distance.
But members of the armed opposition, such as the Free Syrian Army, aren't present. They'd be arrested.
The opposition members gathered here are the ones the government tolerates. Some, like Mazen Bilal, know they are powerless.
"We are demanding from the regime ... guarantees for the safety of this opposition to come in," Bilal said, "but we can't impose this on the regime."
Part of complete coverage on
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
Today's five most popular stories