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I drove into Damascus on the second day of Eid el Adha (the feast of the sacrifice and the big Muslim holiday marking the beginning of their new year). The streets were empty. Hardly any cars, most of the shops closed, and no street vendors except for the occasional one squatting on the roadside by a stack of bloodied sheep skins. This was a new sight for me. Then it occurred to me that the skins must be from the lambs that are freshly slaughtered for the feast of the sacrifice — each family slaughters a lamb to prepare their own feast, and to distribute meat to those who can’t afford it. I was too slow to ask my taxi driver to stop for me to take a picture but I came across an even more gory sight the next day as we were leaving the city to drive to Aleppo. It was on a regular corner in a non-descript quartier and still in the city. Two men had just rigged a butcher rack  right on the street, with two skinned carcasses hanging from hooks and a small flock of sheep herded on the opposite corner, waiting for their life to end and for their coats to be sheared. In fact, some had most of their coat already off — the skins are sold to tanners who treat them then sell them as rugs or  lining for winter coats.

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