Syrian carpenters dust off workshops after years of siege

AFP / Maher AL MOUNESSyrian furniture maker Hussam Obayd measures wood at his workshop in the town of Saqba

Syrian furniture maker Hussam Obayd measures wood at his workshop in the town of Saqba

In a town outside the Syrian capital, Abu Suleiman dusts off his work table and pulls cobwebs from a cupboard he started making before the war.

Prior to the outbreak of the seven-year conflict, his hometown of Saqba near Damascus was famed for its carpenters and their handmade furniture.

But Abu Suleiman was forced to shutter his workshop after rebels overran the town in 2012, sparking years of deadly regime bombardment and a crippling siege.

A 2011 calendar still hangs on the wall.

In a town outside the Syrian capital, Abu Suleiman dusts off his work table and pulls cobwebs from a cupboard he started making before the war.

Prior to the outbreak of the seven-year conflict, his hometown of Saqba near Damascus was famed for its carpenters and their handmade furniture.

But Abu Suleiman was forced to shutter his workshop after rebels overran the town in 2012, sparking years of deadly regime bombardment and a crippling siege.

A 2011 calendar still hangs on the wall.

AFP / Maher AL MOUNESYussef al-Qabuni trims a piece of wood at his workshop

“I started making this bedroom set for my son Suleiman eight years ago, but I never finished it,” says the 53-year-old carpenter, removing cobwebs from a cupboard festooned with wooden flowers.

“I’m waiting for him to return for us to finish it together, so I can give it to him as a wedding gift,” he says.

After protests against President Bashar al-Assad first broke out that year, Abu Suleiman encouraged his son to flee in case the situation escalated.

Suleiman headed to Germany, where he remains today.

His craftsman father only returned to the dusty workshop last week, after regime forces retook control of Saqba in March and the wider region of Eastern Ghouta the following month.

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