Civilians Trapped in Syria’s Aleppo Are ‘Waiting For Death’
Regime offensive cuts down innocents to get at rebels
by NORMA COSTELLO
As reports of executions and arrests dominate news reports, those trapped in the rebel-held eastern portion of Syria’s city of Aleppo say they are “waiting for death.” Since 2011, forces loyal to Pres. Bashar Al Assad have cut down innocents trying to stamp out the insurgency.
Now, in the tiny enclave, activists, medics and teachers discuss the options available to them via the popular Whatsapp online messenger.
Rami, a translator and activist, painted a grim picture.
“We can’t move out to the streets,” Rami wrote. “There is too much shelling.”
“I’m trying to send my family to the government side,” he added. “They might have a chance because they are women and children, the men will be arrested.”
“I want them to go, but they won’t let us.”
Rami wasn’t able to confirm who “they” were in this case. Just as I messaged him back, the signal dropped — another vacuum in the story of Aleppo.
The previous day Abdulkafi Al Hamdo, a teacher, described the situation in Syria’s second city as “doomsday.” He said those injured by the bombardment face little chance of survival.
“Doomsday is held in Aleppo,” Al Hamdo said from inside the besieged city. “People are running but they don’t know where.”
“They are under rubble alive and no one can save them,” he continued. “Some people lie injured in the streets and no one can go to help them because the bombs are always in the same place.”
“The cries and fear of women and children can be heard from the streets.”
Russia announced a deal on Dec. 13 with Syrian rebels who will lay down their arms. But for those who choose to stay in East Aleppo, the future is beyond bleak. The choices are agonizing as those who do consider leaving weigh up the chances of imprisonment, torture or death. In December 2016, the United Nations reported troops loyal to Assad had shot 82 people on the spot near their homes.
“Yesterday evening, we received further deeply disturbing reports that numerous bodies were lying in the streets,” Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights explained on Dec. 13. "Residents were unable to retrieve them due to the intense bombardment and their fear of being shot on sight.”
“In all, as of yesterday evening, we have received reports of pro-Government forces killing at least 82 civilians — including 11 women and 13 children — in four different neighbourhoods — Bustan al-Qasr, al-Ferdous, al-Kallaseh, and al-Saleheen,” he added.
Despite ongoing international discussions on the possibility of safe evacuations, those inside the city have little hope.
“All of us are waiting to die in the last neighborhoods,” an activist named Yasser said via Whatsapp. “Believe me, no one is rejecting a safe evacuation.”
Others inside say they are unable to move or get food and that they too are simply waiting for death. For Al Hamdo the situation is hopeless.
“Families are together waiting for death this is what’s happening,” he wrote.
Dr. Farida, the last OB/GYN in East Aleppo, has been delivering babies in the dark without anesthetic. She said families are unable to bury dead loved ones.
“A family friend and our neighbor in Al Fardous neighborhood came yesterday to the medical center for an eye examination for his oldest son,” Dr. Farida said. “It took half an hour, then he went back to his house to find it collapsed on his wife and three children.”
“He tried hard to get them out from under the rubble, but he couldn’t,” she wrote on through the messenger. “There was no heavy machines to help and he was under heavy artillery shelling.
“He just wanted to see their bodies and bury them like human beings. I think he is going to be crazy.”
By Dec. 12, 2016, the Syrian Army announced through its media arm that it controlled of 98 percent of Aleppo. The brutal push into the historic city comes as U.S. president elect Donald Trump prepares to assume office in January 2017.
According to Mother Etaky, another resident inside the city, civilians are no longer able to attend to injured loved ones.
“Regime and Russian air forces are targeting the main streets of the city and attacking any moving cars on these streets,” he said. “They are dividing the city and preventing rescuers from reaching areas which might be attacked.”
“That’s why many injured people who might survive are dying.”
That’s probably why many of them are just expecting to die.