Me Against My Brother

This story followed the conflict in Tripoli, Lebanon, from 2012-2013.

Lebanon is surrounded by conflict, and trust is in short supply.

While Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli have been in conflict for years, since the start of the war in Syria, the situation has gone downhill. Battles shut down Tripoli for weeks at a time, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

Physical damage is present in every area of the city. Bullet holes sprout from buildings and living with the chaos has become normal. The damage extends to the people as well; to the psyche of citizens in Tripoli, as years of physical conflict and mistrust have left most with deep prejudices against their neighbors.

Both sides claim the conflict in Tripoli will continue, even if the war in Syria comes to an end. The fear of growing hostility is not unfounded. The Alawi-Sunni feud that began during the civil war has never completely calmed, and neighborhood clashes could, with the right influence, easily drag Lebanon down into its own civil war once again.

Alawite youth look down onto Sunni-majority Bab al Tabbanne from a building in Jabal Mohsen. Tripoli, once Lebanon's greatest port city and a hub of trade in the north, never quite dug itself out of the sectarian conflict left by Lebanon's civil war. The
Two fighters from the Al Farouq Bridgade patrol Bab al Tebbanne after dark. Much of the fighting takes place after dark in the narrow alleyways; fighters sprint across each open space to avoid sniper fire.
The view of Jabal Mohsen during a battle from a fighters point of view in Bab al Tabbanne. Many have said that during times of peace, men used to do business between each other, women visited each others homes who were on the border, and their children pl
One of many posters of Bashar al Assad and his leaders adorns the neighborhood in Jabal Mohsen, Tripoli, Lebanon, 29 November, 2012. Though most of the community supports Assad, and some call him their "teacher", the majority condemn all killing happening
Alawite families in Jabal Mohsen gather on the staircases of their homes, talking through holes blasted through them by rockets of the latest battle, Tripoli, Lebanon, 29 November, 2012. The poorest families live closest to the front lines, their homes cr
 A Lebanese youth shows off a gunshot-wound scar from the battle in August that raged for nearly two weeks. He was on his way home from school when the bullet struck his back; it was lodged in his spine till surgeons could remove it. He now walks slowly w
A young man named Hasan paused to talk to other youth in the Jabal Mohsen cemetery. "We don't want to live like this. The majority of the people don't want conflict, and in the end it mostly hurts the people who don't want to fight."
Two young girls in Bab al Tabanne stand on their porch after missing yet another day of school. The entire city often shuts down when the two neighborhoods battle.
 A fighter in Bab al Tabanne waits with his weapon at dusk, December 9, 2012.
An Alawite father closes his eyes as he recounts details of the last battle,Tripoli, Lebanon, 20 January, 2012. When a battle breaks out, the community is literally trapped, no one on the mountain can get in or out without being targeted by snipers: this
Bullet holes decorate a living room in Jabal Mohsen. When asked how she deals with the conflict, the woman of the house threw up her hands and said "We pray."
A family flees from Tripoli to their village in the north. As the fighting has grown ever more sectarian, many families are fleeing the city, even though it has been their home for generations.
A tank watches over a playground that sits exactly on the borderline between Bab al Tebbanne and Jabal Mohsen. Mothers in the area described how their children used to play together, and now they can only watch, as with each battle, more bullet holes deco
Using Format