Unless you’ve been disconnected from world news or happen to be named Gary Johnson, chances are that you know of the devastating and endless fight that has decimated the Syrian city of Aleppo. Once considered a beautiful city, the last four years of fighting between Syrian government and opposing rebel groups has transformed Aleppo into a deadly war zone.
Over the last few months, Syrian forces have confined the rebels into smaller and smaller areas of the city. With the help of their Russian and Iranian allies, the Syrian government’s troops have now taken control of the last few areas of Aleppo held by the rebel forces. According to recent claims by Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, all military action has officially ended in Aleppo.
Churkin has claimed that an arrangement had been made to allow the rebel fighters to leave the city, as well as any civilians who wish to follow. This news seems like it would be good news for the Syrian people and the rest of the world, which has watched in horror from the sidelines while thousands have been slaughtered, but conflicting reports from Aleppo have told a very different story.
The imminent victory by President Bashar al-Assad and his regime is sure to boost the government forces’ morale across the country, but the UN is weary about the violent way this was achieved. According to UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville, pro-government forces have killed at least 82 civilians in recent days. While much of the criticism for this relentless violence has been directed at Russia, Moscow has unsurprisingly and vehemently denied these allegations.
Out of the estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people trapped in the besieged area, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura stated that around 1,500 of them are rebel fighters. While the Syrian government and their allies have been celebrating their victory, many civilians have described the scene in Aleppo as “hell”, and many have recorded goodbye messages in anticipation of death.
One activist named Lina Shamy has continued to update the world on the situation within eastern Aleppo through Twitter, pleading the rest of the world to help stop the genocide taking place throughout the rebel strongholds.
Shamy returned to Twitter earlier this morning to claim that the Assad regime and Iran had already breached the ceasefire and that no one has been allowed leave the besieged city. As the rebels still control a small (and dwindling) number of areas across the country, the war in Syria is still far from over. While the Syrian government has used their recent victory in Aleppo to push forth pro-regime propaganda, it’s clear that many civilians on the ground are still suffering.