TIME Tunisia

Star Wars Landmarks Safe From ISIS, Tunisian Officials Say

TUNISIA-TOURISM-ECONOMY-FILM-STAR WARS
Fethi Belaid—AFP/Getty Images A picture taken on May 2, 2014 shows, amidst desert sand, a film set where numerous Star Wars scenes were filmed in Ong Jmel, in southern Tunisia.

Tourism officials say the sets are unaffected by ISIS

Tourism officials in Tunisia say that landmarks made famous in the original Star Wars movie are safe from Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants, despite reports that the town of Tataouine was a “way-station” for ISIS.

The initial report by CNN was “without foundation,” Mohammed Sayem of the Tunisian tourism commission told the AP. The town, known as Luke Skywalker’s home planet of “Tatooine” in Star Wars, is actually hundreds of miles away from the primary film shooting locations near Tozeur.

Col. Mokhtar Hammami of the National Guard said the area is being patrolled by 1,500 men and that “all is normal, in fact we’ve seen a big influx of foreign tourists and Tunisians.”

The Wrap reports that the desert scenes for the next film, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, were filmed in Abu Dhabi last year.

[AP]

TIME

German Prosecutors Say Pilot ‘Hid’ Illness Before Crash

"Apparently he had a burnout, a depression," German media report

He left no suicide note behind. But when police raided the home of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot accused of purposely crashing Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps on Tuesday, the officers did find evidence that he suffered from a mental illness, which he may have been hiding from his employers before allegedly taking the lives of 149 passengers and crew along with his own life.

Papers found at his home “support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues,” German prosecutors from the city of Düsseldorf said in a statement on Friday. Among the evidence found at Lubitz apartment was a sick note for the day of the crash that had been torn up, the statement said. Seized medical documents suggest “an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment.”

The Wall Street Journal also reported on Friday, citing a source close to the investigation, that Lubitz was being treated for depression by a psychiatrist who had excused him from work on the day of the crash.

German authorities also confirmed on Friday that Lubitz’s medical certificate with the federal aviation agency was marked with the code “SIC,” indicating that he was obligated to undergo regular medical check-ups. A spokesman for the agency could not say whether the illness was physical or psychological in nature, as that information remains confidential, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Police have denied earlier reports that any significant clue had yet been found as to the co-pilot’s reasoning. “The items need to be evaluated to determine whether they can give any indication of a possible motive,” police spokesman Markus Niesczery told the New York Times. Another police spokesman, Marcel Fiebig, told France’s AFP news agency that investigators had found no “smoking gun” at the co-pilot’s home.

Part of the focus of the investigation has turned to a break Lubitz took in his pilot’s training six years ago, possibly for reasons of mental illness or psychological fatigue. During a press conference on Thursday, the head of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said that such a hiatus is not unusual for pilots in training. “He took a several months break for reasons I do not know,” said the chief executive of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr. “Then he had to do the test again,” he added.

After he completed part of his training in Phoenix, Arizona, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gave Lubitz a third-class medical certificate, the Associated Press reported. That document requires a pilot to demonstrate that he has no signs of psychosis, bipolar disorder and personality disorder “that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts.”

Early in his pilot’s training, Lubitz underwent psychiatric treatment for a total of 18 months, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported on Friday. Citing internal Lufthansa documents and sources, the paper claimed that the co-pilot was briefly deemed “unable to fly” while training in Phoenix, and that he had recently been suffering from a relationship crisis with his girlfriend.

At the press conference on Thursday, the Lufthansa chief said that Lubitz had passed all of the tests, including physical and psychological examinations, and was deemed fit to fly as a co-pilot for Germanwings in 2013. “He passed not only every medical test but every flight test,” Spohr said. “He was 100% flightworthy, without a single restriction.”

But acquaintances have told reporters since the crash that Lubitz had suffered from bouts of depression during his training. “Apparently he had a burnout, a depression,” the mother of Lubitz’ friend from school told Germany’s FAZ newspaper on Thursday, declining to give her name.

Other friends of the pilot, however, insisted that Lubitz seemed perfectly normal though at times somewhat quiet. “He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” said Peter Ruecker, a friend from the local flying club in Lubitz’s hometown of Montabaur, in western Germany. “He gave off a good feeling.”

TIME Iran

U.S. May Permit Iran To Run Hundreds of Centrifuges at Fortified Site

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) at the start of talks on Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 27, 2015.
Brendan Smialowski—Pool/EPA US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) at the start of talks on Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 27, 2015.

The U.S. and Iranian negotiators are racing to reach an agreement before a March 31 deadline

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites, officials have told The Associated Press.

The trade-off would allow Iran to run several hundred of the devices at its Fordo facility, although the Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections, according to Western officials familiar with details of negotiations now underway. In return, Iran would be required to scale back the number of centrifuges it runs at its Natanz facility and accept other restrictions on nuclear-related work.

Instead of uranium, which can be enriched to be the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, any centrifuges permitted at Fordo would be fed elements such as zinc, xenon or germanium for separating out isotopes used in medicine, industry or science, the officials said. The number of centrifuges would not be enough to produce the amount of uranium needed to produce a weapon within a year — the minimum time-frame that Washington and its negotiating partners demand.

The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the sensitive negotiations as the latest round of talks began Friday between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and their teams. The negotiators are racing to meet an end-of-March deadline to reach an outline of an agreement that would grant Iran relief from international sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The deadline for a final agreement is June 30.

One senior U.S. official declined to comment on the specific proposal but said the goal since the beginning of the talks has been “to have Fordo converted so it’s not being used to enrich uranium.” That official would not say more.

The officials stressed that the potential compromise on Fordo is just one of several options on a menu of highly technical equations being discussed in the talks. All of the options are designed to keep Iran at least a year away from producing an atomic weapon for the life of the agreement, which will run for at least 10 years. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has joined the last several rounds as the negotiations have gotten more technical.

Experts say the compromise for Fordo could still be problematic. They note it would allow Iran to keep intact technology that could be quickly repurposed for uranium enrichment at a sensitive facility that the U.S. and its allies originally wanted stripped of all such machines — centrifuges that can spin uranium gas into uses ranging from reactor fuel to weapons-grade material.

And the issue of inspector access and verification is key. Iran has resisted “snap inspections” in the past. Even as the nuclear talks have made progress, Iran has yet to satisfy questions about its past possible nuclear-related military activity. The fact that questions about such activity, known as Possible Military Dimensions, or PMDs, remain unresolved is a serious concern for the U.N. atomic watchdog.

In addition, the site at Fordo is a particular concern because it is hardened and dug deeply into a mountainside making it resistant — possibly impervious — to air attack. Such an attack is an option that neither Israel nor the U.S. has ruled out in case the talks fail.

And while too few to be used for proliferation by themselves, even a few hundred extra centrifuges at Fordo would be a concern when looked at in the context of total numbers.

Robert Menendez, senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said such a compromise demonstrates that the U.S. is negotiating “any deal for a deal’s sake.”

“An undue amount of trust and faith is being placed in a negotiating partner that has spent decades deceiving the international community,” denying inspectors access and actively destabilizing the region, he said.

As negotiations stand, the number of centrifuges would grow to more than 6,000, when the other site is included. Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran nuclear file as a deputy director general of the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency until 2010, says even 6,000 operating centrifuges would be “a big number.”

Asked of the significance of hundreds more at Fordo, he said, “Every machine counts.”

Iran reported the site to the IAEA six years ago in what Washington says was an attempt to pre-empt President Barack Obama and the prime ministers of Britain and France going public with its existence a few days later. Tehran later used the site to enrich uranium to a level just a technical step away from weapons-grade until late 2013, when it froze its nuclear program under a temporary arrangement that remains in effect as the sides negotiate.

Twice extended, the negotiations have turned into a U.S.-Iran tug-of-war over how many of the machines Iran would be allowed to operate since the talks resumed over two years ago. Tehran denies nuclear weapons ambitions, saying it wants to enrich only for energy, scientific and medical purposes.

Washington has taken the main negotiating role with Tehran in talks that formally remain between Iran and six world powers, and officials told the AP at last week’s round that the two sides were zeroing in on a cap of 6,000 centrifuges at Natanz, Iran’s main enrichment site.

That’s fewer than the nearly 10,000 Tehran now runs at Natanz, yet substantially more than the 500 to 1,500 that Washington originally wanted as a ceiling. Only a year ago, U.S. officials floated 4,000 as a possible compromise.

One of the officials said discussions focus on an extra 480 centrifuges at Fordo. That would potentially bring the total number of machines to close to 6,500.

David Albright of Washington’s Institute for Security and International Security says a few hundred centrifuges operated by the Iranians would not be a huge threat — if they were anywhere else but the sensitive Fordo site.

Beyond its symbolic significance, “it keeps the infrastructure in place and keeps a leg up, if they want to restart (uranium) enrichment operations,” said Albright, who is a go-to person on the Iran nuclear issue for the U.S. government.

TIME Middle East

Arab Leaders Inch Closer to Creation of Joint Military Force

Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Thomas Hartwell—AP Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Sharm el Sheik, South Sinai, Egypt on March 26, 2015.

Many Arab states have long dreamed of creating such a force

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Arab leaders meeting this weekend in this Egyptian Red Sea resort are moving closer than ever to creating a joint Arab military force, a sign of a new determination among Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their allies to intervene aggressively in regional hotspots, whether against Islamic militants or spreading Iranian power.

Creation of such a force has been a longtime goal that has eluded Arab nations in the 65 years since they signed a rarely used joint defense pact. And there remains reluctance among some countries, particularly allies of Iran like Syria and Iraq — a reflection of the divisions in the region.

Foreign ministers gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh ahead of the summit, which begins Saturday, agreed on a broad plan for the force. It came as Saudi Arabia and its allies opened a campaign of airstrikes in Yemen against Iranian-backed Shiite rebels who have taken over much of the country and forced its U.S.- and Gulf-backed president to flee abroad.

The Yemen campaign marked a major test of the new policy of intervention by the Gulf and Egypt. The brewing Yemen crisis — and Gulf fears that the rebels are a proxy for Iranian influence — have been one motivator in their move for a joint Arab force. But it also signaled that they are not going to wait for the Arab League, notorious for its delays and divisions, and will press ahead with their military coordination on multiple fronts.

Egyptian officials said the Yemen airstrikes are to be followed by a ground intervention to further weaken the rebels, known as Houthis, and their allies and force them into negotiations. They have also moved ahead with action in Libya after its collapse into chaos since 2011 and the rise of militants there — including now an affiliate of the Islamic State group that has overrun much of Iraq and Syria. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have both carried out airstrikes against Libyan militants in the past year.

In their agreement Thursday, the foreign ministers called on the chiefs of staff of the Arab League’s 22-member nations to meet within a month to iron out details of the force, like its budget and mechanism, and report back to the organization.

The Egyptian military and security officials said the proposed force would be made of up to 40,000 elite troops and will be headquartered in either Cairo or Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The force would be backed by jet-fighters, warships and light armor. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Arab league officials said some Arab nations had reservations about the creation of a joint force, including Iraq, whose foreign minister, Ibrahim a-Jaafari, has counseled fellow ministers that more time was needed for planning. Iran holds massive influence with Iraq’s Shiite-led government and its military advisers are playing an active role in the fight by government troops and allied Shiite militias against militants of the Islamic State.

The Associated Press exclusively reported last November that the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, all Sunni Muslim nations, were discussing the creation of a joint military alliance with a possible joint force to deal with the threat posed by Islamic militants in Libya and to combat the growing influence of Shiite, non-Arab Iran, particularly in Yemen. Jordan and Bahrain have since expressed their willingness to join the alliance.

Egypt’s president, soldier-turned-politician Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, was the first Arab leader to speak publicly about the plan. In a recent address, he said there was a pressing need now for a joint Arab force and repeated his assertion that Egypt was prepared to intervene militarily in support of its Gulf Arab allies. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have poured billions of dollars into Egypt’s emptying coffers since el-Sissi ousted Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests against the rule of the Islamist president.

“The resolution sends a clear message that Arab nations can agree on a plan to defend themselves,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told a news conference late Thursday in Sharm el-Sheikh. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the proposed force would undertake “quick and effective missions.”

Saudi Arabia, a staunch U.S. ally, views Yemen as strategically important to its national security and has traditionally patronized key players there like top politicians, military commanders and tribal chiefs to protect its interests. It fought a brief border war against the Houthis in 2009. Similarly, Egypt views neighboring Libya as vital to its own national interests. Last month, Egyptian warplanes struck Islamic State positions in eastern Libya in retaliation for its mass beheading of 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians.

Thursday’s resolution, however, will streamline military actions like those undertaken by the Egyptians and Saudis in Libya and Yemen respectively, allowing future actions to be carried out under Arab League cover. El-Sissi’s calls for a U.N.-backed force to intervene in Libya were stymied by the West on the grounds that more time should be given to U.N.-led efforts to reconcile Libya’s rival governments.

Egyptian forces have recently concluded large-scale war games near its border with Libya. Codenamed “Thunder,” the exercise involved navy warships, attack helicopters and beach landings by army commandos.

Moreover, Egypt and its Gulf Arab allies have over the past year held a series of joint war games, including several in the Red Sea, a tactic that the Egyptian officials said was necessary to create harmony between members of the proposed force.

Already, the officials said, Egyptian troops are embedded with Saudi forces on the kingdom’s border with Iraq, about a third of which is controlled by the Islamic State. Egyptian military advisers are also deployed near Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen. As the crisis in Yemen worsened, Egypt has coordinated efforts with Sudan and Horn of Africa nation Eritrea to ensure the safety of shipping through the southern Bab al-Mandab entrance of the Red Sea, which Yemen overlooks.

Read next: Iran Calls Saudi Airstrikes in Yemen ‘Dangerous Step’

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Jeremy Clarkson Offered Job by Russian Military TV

The Cheltenham Festival - Day 4
Samir Hussein—WireImage Jeremy Clarkson watches the races during Gold Cup day of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 14, 2014, in Cheltenham, England

Clarkson has yet to comment on the offer

MOSCOW — A television station owned by the Russian defense ministry is offering a job to former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson.

The BBC announced Wednesday that it wouldn’t renew Clarkson’s contract after a fracas with a producer, ending his connection to the immensely popular program.

The Zvezda TV channel published a letter to Clarkson on its website late Thursday, inviting him to visit Moscow in April and discuss launching a car show in Russia.

Zvezda also quoted a Clarkson representative, saying that the offer has been forwarded to his client and that he is considering it.

The Guinness Book of World Records has described “Top Gear” as the world’s most widely watched factual program. It broadcasts to 214 territories worldwide and has an estimated global audience of 350 million.

Read next: 6 times the BBC should have suspended Clarkson but didn’t

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Aviation

Here’s What We Know About the Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz

Investigators are scrambling to understand why he intentionally crashed Flight 9525 in the French Alps

Andreas Lubitz liked pop music, jogging and, of course, flying.

On Thursday, French prosecutors claimed that Lubitz, who friends say was “rather quiet,” “polite” and “fun,” intentionally crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 on Tuesday, killing himself and the 149 other individuals onboard.

Investigators raided Lubitz’s apartment along with his parents’ home in Montabaur, Germany, this week, as they clamored to shed some light on why or what drove the 27-year-old co-pilot to commit mass murder.

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there is no evidence to suggest that the co-pilot had any links to a terrorist organization.

“According to the current state of knowledge and after comparing information that we have, he does not have a terrorist background,” said Maiziere.

Officials from Germanwings’ parent company, Lufthansa, said Lubitz had completed all the criteria required to pilot a commercial aircraft and appeared to be both mentally and physically fit. A security probe last vetted Lubitz in January; however, nothing unusual appears to have come up during the routine inquiry, reports the Associated Press.

“The pilot has passed all his tests, all his medical exams, “ said Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa’s CEO. “All the safety nets we’re so proud of here, have not worked in this case.”

Lubitz, a lifelong aviation enthusiast, first enrolled in the Lufthansa’s pilot program in 2008 and trained in Germany and Arizona. The 27-year-old later joined Germanwings as a pilot in 2013 and logged 630 flight hours on the A320 before this week’s crash.

On Thursday, Lufthansa confirmed that the co-pilot had briefly interrupted his training course about six years ago. The airline said they are still investigating what may have led to that brief hiatus.

German tabloids have inferred that Lubitz might have suffered from some type of psychological breakdown during that time. Other reports have suggested that Lubitz might have recently been reeling from relationship problems with his girlfriend.

Regardless, aviation experts say pilots are thoroughly tested and other crew members are supposed to remain vigilant when it comes to making sure their fellow pilots are fit to fly.

“Every time they fly, there’s always another pilot doing an assessment. So if one pilot thinks another pilot is going weird, that pilot has a responsibility to report that,” Jason Middleton, an aviation professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, tells TIME. “Weirdos and people with mental illnesses are pretty well filtered out.”

TIME Cameroon

More People Are Fleeing Northern Cameroon to Escape Boko Haram

In this file photo taken on Feb. 25, 2015, a family of refugees that fled their homes due to violence from the militant group Boko Haram sit inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon
Edwin Kindzeka Moki—AP A family of refugees who fled their homes because of violence from the militant group Boko Haram sit inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, on Feb. 25, 2015

Cross-border attacks are fueling the exodus

The surge in violence and cross-border attacks by Nigerian Islamist militants Boko Haram has doubled the number of civilians in Cameroon displaced by the conflict, with some 117,000 people from northern Cameroon fleeing their homes in March alone, according to a U.N. survey.

Boko Haram, which has waged an insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009, has killed 6,400 and carried out 337 attacks since January 2014, according to the U.N. Recently, the group has been launching cross-border attacks into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

“The northern part of Cameroon was already under severe strain due to deteriorating climate conditions over the last three years. The growing insecurity has further exacerbated that situation,” U.N. Sahel coordinator Robert Piper told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Cameroon also shelters at least 66,000 Nigerian refugees escaping Boko Haram.

[Reuters]

TIME Burma

Burma Army Commander Pledges Successful Elections

Burma's Commander-in-chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing speaks during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Burma, March 27, 2015.
Khin Maung Win—AP Burma's Commander-in-chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing speaks during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Burma, March 27, 2015.

"Any disturbance to stability of the state and prevalence of law, any armed pressure or any threats for voting won't be allowed in the general election"

(NAYPYITAW, Burma) — Burma’s powerful military commander pledged Friday to work to support successful elections in November, calling it “an important landmark for democracy implementation,” and warned that the army will not tolerate instability or armed threats.

This year’s elections will be the first to be held by the semi-civilian government that swept to power after a 2010 vote widely seen as rigged in favor of the military-backed rulers.

“The general election which is going to be held in the early days of November 2015 represents an important landmark of democracy implementation of our country,” Commander-in-chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said in a speech to more than 10,000 troops at a big ceremony marking Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the day the army rose up against Japanese occupiers during World War II some 70 years ago.

“Any disturbance to stability of the state and prevalence of law, any armed pressure or any threats for voting won’t be allowed in the general election,” he said.

But critics say that even under the best circumstances it will be difficult to view the upcoming polls as free or fair. The constitution guarantees the army 25 percent of all parliamentary seats and other special political powers. And the most popular politician, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is barred from running for presidency because her late husband and sons are foreign citizens.

Meanwhile, the government has been unable to reach a conclusive peace agreement with armed ethnic minority groups fighting in border regions. And members of the long persecuted Rohingya population — labeled by the government as illegal migrants — will most likely not be allowed to vote.

Army chief also said the Burmese army is “risking the lives and limbs” of its military officers and troops to achieve stability in border areas.

Ongoing clashes with ethnic Kokang rebels in Burma’s northeast, close to China, has killed hundreds of government troops and caused tension with neighboring China after stray shells reportedly fell into China and killed 5 people.

TIME Aviation

Airlines Adopt Two-in-the-Cockpit Rule After Germanwings Crash

Pilots walk past a light aircraft trainer at the Airline Training Center Arizona in Goodyear, Arizona
Reuters Pilots walk past a Lufthansa light aircraft trainer at the Airline Training Center Arizona (ATCA) in Goodyear, Arizona March 26, 2015

Numerous airlines hastily changed their policies Thursday to require that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times, after the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight apparently deliberately crashed a plane, killing 150 people, after having locked out the captain.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for many years has required that at least two qualified crew members be in the cockpit throughout every flight. But that’s not the case in other parts of the world.

John Cox, chief executive of Safety Operating Systems, a Washington-based aviation safety consultant, said Tuesday’s crash in the French Alps would likely lead most airlines and national aviation authorities to follow suit…

Read this story in full from our partners at NBC.com

TIME Syria

This Is the Surprising Way Some Syrians Are Protecting Themselves From Snipers

A young boy walks past a makeshift barricade made of wreckages of buses to obstruct the view of regime snipers and to keep people safe in Aleppo, Syria on March 14, 2015.
Karam Al-Masri—AFP/Getty Images A young boy walks past a makeshift barricade made of wreckages of buses to obstruct the view of regime snipers and to keep people safe in Aleppo, Syria on March 14, 2015.

Rebel fighters upended these buses using ropes and pulleys

Correction appended, March 27, 2015

Some buses in Aleppo, Syria, have been reconverted to serve as protection from snipers loyal to the country’s embattled President Bashar Assad.

This photo, taken in the rebel-controlled Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood on March 14, is by Karam Al-Masri, a young Syrian who became a photographer following the uprising in his country that has now spilled into four years of civil war. “I wasn’t a photographer before,” he tells TIME. “But I started to cover the events to show what is going on in my country.”

Agence France-Presse distributes Al-Masri’s photographs.

“The Ahrar al-Sham brigade [a group that adheres to the conservative Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam] placed the buses in such a way,” he says. “They used ropes, pulleys and a number of men to get the buses in such position. They are [blocking] the view of regime snipers.”

These upended buses are now a common sight in Aleppo, says Al-Masri, with several neighborhoods using the crude set-up to bring back a fragile sense of security to a city divided between forces loyal to the government and a slew of disparate insurgent groups.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the date Karam Al-Masri’s photograph was taken. It was March 14.

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