The human suffering from Assad’s pummelling of Aleppo is devastating
This is a battle President Assad cannot afford to lose and in taking the fight to the forces opposed to his leadership he is subjecting his own “beloved” citizens to unthinkable terror, starvation, chemical gas attacks and death. This is a demonstration of power at its worst. It shows what people are capable of doing to other human beings to protect their own interests.
Aleppo is an ancient metropolis, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it has been inhabited since as early as the 6th millennium BC. Since the Battle of Aleppo started in 2012, the city has suffered massive destruction and has been the worst-hit city in the civil war. It is currently split between the government-held west and the rebel-held east. It was once a beautiful UNESCO world heritage site, now it is a devastated battleground. This recent BBC video gives an incredible graphic overview of the destruction of Aleppo, home to 2 million people.
Natalie Nougayrede writing in the guardian described Assad’s recent offensive as follows:
‘In recent days, Bashar al-Assad’s army, assisted by Russian air power and Iranian-connected ground forces, has achieved its long-held objective of encircling eastern Aleppo, where 200,000 to 300,000 people are now helplessly stranded and under attack. Any European who remembers the 1990’s should think about parallels with the siege of Sarajevo, and the Srebrenica massacre 21 years ago. As one UN official put it this week: “In the 1990’s, we said never again. Aleppo is the new Srebrenica.” Those who rightly express solidarity with refugees need to go one step further and ask why nothing has been done to prevent the mass atrocities that have sent so many people struggling over land and sea to reach our world. We should question the faulty western strategies that have focused entirely on combating Isis and not on protecting Syrian civilians.’
Since that story was published on July 31st the opposition have fought back and have opened up some roads so that humanitarian aid can be brought to the besieged people. However the fighting is intensifying, air strikes are killing innocent people and the Western leadership is looking on paralysed, unsure what strategy will best serve their own interests.
There are some parallels reminiscent of Nero playing his fiddle when Rome was burning in 68 AD. 2,000 years later and the brutality of Assad is no less than Nero’s tyrannical reign which saw him dip Christians in oil and set on fire in his garden at night as a source of light.