For a banker, he was oddly dressed. In his green camouflage uniform, with his ammunition belt and Kalashnikov, he did not look out of place on the frontline of the battle for a Damascus suburb, but he was not meant to be here.
He should have been behind a counter, not behind sandbags; taking money, not taking lives.
Nizar worked in a commercial bank until the war on his doorstep forced him to stop his day job and man the barricade in the Yarmouk district of the capital. He did not want me to use his full name.
"I never wanted to do this," he insisted in perfect English, "but now I must."
Nizar and his fellow part-time soldiers were given 40 days' training and handed weapons by the army. They are now counted among President Bashar al-Assad's forces, defending their homes from rebels they believe to be fundamentalists and foreigners.
Civilians gather every few minutes near Nizar's unit and wait for a gap in the gunfire. Then they run across no-man's land to get bread.
They live in an area that has been held by rebels for months. Both sides allow civilians free passage to get to the nearby shops to buy food for their families, but their sprint across the frontline, often running a gauntlet of gunfire, is a heart-stopping sight.
First, local men in orange bibs line them up. Next, part-time soldiers lead them forward, their heads down, hugging the wall for cover, until it is judged safe to cross – and then encourage them to sprint forward across a street strewn with empty shell casings.
Clutching their warm bread, they run for their lives like this every day.
The moment the residents had crossed over, Nizar, his men and the rebels resumed their shooting.
In besieged suburbs, residents allege that the army is targeting bakeries to starve the rebels into submission.
Nearly two years into the revolution, Damascus is losing its inhabitants at an alarming rate.
And tens of thousands are running every day, for bread and for their lives, as this brutal, deadlocked war grinds on.