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
October 16, 2013 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh looks back at his reports from the front line, for which he has won an Emmy.
January 28, 2013 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Thousand of war-weary Syrians continue their exodus into Jordan. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom travels with some to the border.
October 29, 2013 -- Updated 2201 GMT (0601 HKT)
Polio, not seen for a decade, has returned to Syria. Atika Shubert reports on the crisis that leaves 500,000 at risk.
September 6, 2013 -- Updated 1000 GMT (1800 HKT)
New video by opposition groups in Syria exposes suffering from apparent malnutrition, as CNN's Arwa Damon reports.
October 23, 2013 -- Updated 0357 GMT (1157 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert reports on the horrific violence witnessed by one volunteer doctor in Syria.
July 23, 2013 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
In Lebanon, resentment toward Syrian refugees is growing. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reports.
November 6, 2013 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Raqqa was one of Syria's most liberal cities. Now locals call it Tora Bora. Now they say it's as if the Taliban of Afghanistan have taken over.
September 16, 2013 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Increasing numbers of Syrian children are suffering from malnutrition as vital supplies are cut off, as CNN's Arwa Damon reports.
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 0132 GMT (0932 HKT)
Facing the threat of U.S. military action, Syria has said it welcomes a Russian proposal to hand over its stockpiles of chemical weapons.
November 5, 2013 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
It's an odd experience flying in to Hatay, southern Turkey, on the border with Syria and its nasty and seemingly infinite war these days.
November 6, 2013 -- Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT)
Al Qaeda now holds power across large parts of northern Syria, according to a CNN survey of towns, activists and analysts.
August 31, 2013 -- Updated 1122 GMT (1922 HKT)
For 13 years, Bashar al-Assad has governed Syria, for the last two, he's faced repeated calls from inside and outside the country for his resignation.
September 10, 2013 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
The younger brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is described by analysts as someone even more brutal than his sibling.
August 29, 2013 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
As the Syrian civil war rages on, the president's high-profile wife, Asma, has kept a low profile.
September 6, 2013 -- Updated 2224 GMT (0624 HKT)
The Syrian civil war has birthed rebel groups across a wide ideological and geographic spectrum.
September 16, 2013 -- Updated 1842 GMT (0242 HKT)
More than 2 million Syrians have fled their country, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
August 28, 2013 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
CNN's Fred Pleitgen obtains exclusive video footage of the aftermath of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Today's five most popular stories