In the recent past, Aleppo used to be the heartbeat of Syria. A bustling, populous city, it was composed of picturesque mosques, mansions, souqs and a smattering of caravanserais. Laughter of children rang through the narrow streets and the population enjoyed a peaceful life – a far cry from its current situation. The Ancient City of Aleppo- a World Heritage Site- had remained in its pristine form since the period of its construction- between 12th to 16th century. Until 2011, when the city was engulfed in a Civil War between The Syrian Army and the rebels.
The Battle of Aleppo caused a downward spiral for the city especially in architectural and demographic terms. Many important areas, such as the Al Madina souq and World Heritage Sites like Bosra and Palmyra among others, were damaged due to cross fire, military occupation shelling and demolition. This caused UNESCO to “grave concern about possible damage to precious sites.” The rebels occupied eastern parts of the city and set up their heavy weaponry, setting the scene for a long drawn battle. A vast section of the populace began to migrate to safer areas but many stayed behind in their homes, some to poor to venture in search of greener pastures.
Flashforward 2016, war clouds are still looming large. Regime troops are approaching East Aleppo which is besieged by terrorists. Civilians remain trapped while shells rain from the sky and the approaching regime is perpetrating atrocities on the civilians according to activists. A number of netizens took to social media to raise awareness about their plight. by posting “goodbye videos” which took the world by storm.
A twitter account of an alleged seven year old girl Bana Alabed is tweeting live from Aleppo with the help of her mother. Twitter has verified the account although Syria’s President Assad claims that it is a hoax promoted by terrorists. Recently the Aleppo girl and her mother made a video begging Michelle Obama for help.
“We are here living a genocide.” Syrian Activist Lina Shamy said in an interview to Al Jazeera. As the regime forces near Aleppo, Shamy says that although they are posing as “liberators” they are perpetrating violence on the civilians- including women and children. Horrifying field executions have been help according to activists.
On December 16th, evacuation of civilians broke down in the last rebel held area of Syria with thousands of residents still trapped. Dispute has put the evacuations on hold leaving the citizens amidst news of field executions, shooting and violence. Although the regime seems to be gaining control, the war is far from over. The world continues to wait with bated breath to see a conclusion to the humanitarian crisis, but there seems to be no end in sight.