One of the last expats in Damascus: “I’m going to stay, no matter what”

Screen grab of our Observer's Twitter page
 
Most foreigners have fled Syria due to the ongoing civil war, which has now spread to the capital, the heart of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. One French expatriate has decided to stay in Damascus, whatever the risks, and to live-tweet the crisis.
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"Though fighting has reached the capital, people here aren't panicking"

Jean-Pierre Duthion owns a bar in Damascus. He tweets under the handle @halona.
 
I live in the Maliki neighbourhood. It’s located about a kilometre and a half from the government’s intelligence quarters, which was reportedly hit by a suicide attack on Wednesday morning.
 
As far as I know, there are no other expats left in Damascus but me. All my foreign friends left the country at least eight months ago. At the French high school, only the Syrian teachers and students are left. As for the French Cultural Centre, it closed its doors a few months ago.
 
Though the fighting has come to Damascus, I’m not seeing people panicking. Once in a while, we hear the sound of explosions coming from the suburbs. The capital’s residents are getting used to this. However, they do leave work earlier than before and go straight home, generally in the middle of the afternoon. Of course, they are worried. They know something is going to happen. What scares them most is not that the opposition could take power, but that there could be a power void, with no central government, no more police or army. They’re worried the country might descend into chaos. The capital’s residents are not very political - they feel like this conflict has taken them hostage.
 
I for one leave work rather late, and have to go through five checkpoints over the course of five kilometres. At each checkpoint, soldiers search my car and check my identification papers. I don’t intend to leave Syria, because I’ve got my business here. Plus, my wife is Syrian, and doesn’t want to leave. We intend to stay, and whatever happens, happens.
 
Here are Jean-Pierre Duthion's latest tweets, updated in real time:
 
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