Dr Nabil Antaki
Aleppo, the martyr’d city: our city has been the number one subject of televised and written media reports for the last two weeks. However, the suffering of the inhabitants of Aleppo did not only start yesterday.
Even though the war against Syria began in March 2011, it didn’t really affect Aleppo until July 2012 when armed “rebels” occupied areas of East Aleppo forcing the displacement of an estimated 500,000 people who did not want to live under Islamist [takfiri militant] control.
Since then, the city has been divided in two. The East represents 25% the city and right now contains only 200,000 inhabitants. All others have fled to West Aleppo, an area that represents 75% of Aleppo and contains 1.5 million inhabitants, all under the control of the Syrian state.
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Since 2012, the islamist “rebels” have, daily, launched missiles, mortars and gas containers filled with explosives and nails into West Aleppo causing multiple deaths and serious injury [see ‘rebel’ Hell Cannon missiles here].
Further still, they have cut off supplies of clean water to West Aleppo, for the last two years. The authorities had to drill 300 boreholes in the centre of the city to provide running water. The “rebels” have also cut electricity supply to West Aleppo. On numerous occasions, they have blockaded West Aleppo and prevented entry of essential supplies, fuel, food, petrol. This is a collective punishment of the people of West Aleppo.
The Syrian Army, supported by its allies, has been fighting to liberate East Aleppo and to wrest control from the armed “rebels” for four years. Their attempts to restore this territory to the Syrian state has been without success during these four years. Aleppo has been caught in the crossfire of bombing and sniping and life in Aleppo has been reduced to a living hell.
One month ago, the armed “rebels” took control of the only road that connects West Aleppo to the outside world. As with previous “rebel” operations, this effectively besieged West Aleppo, prevented inhabitants from leaving the city and caused huge suffering.
After 3 weeks of combat, the government troops liberated the road and laid siege to East Aleppo. For the last two weeks, the “rebels” are completely surrounded in East Aleppo with the remainder of civilians who either could not, or did not want to leave.
This time, the Syrian State is determined to fully liberate East Aleppo from the Nusra Front terrorists who occupy the Eastern sectors of the city (Nusra Front is unanimously designated a terrorist organisation, alongside Daesh/ISIS, by the International Community).
As the terrorist held area is finally surrounded, the Syrian state has deployed aerial bombing and ground operations to achieve this goal. Prior to the operation, the Syrian state had dropped leaflets and sent SMS messages asking the civilian population to evacuate the area and to take refuge in West Aleppo, the majority had already left over the last four years.
The government opened 7 humanitarian corridors and many escaped via these corridors, risking their lives to do so. The terrorists try to prevent them leaving, loathe to lose their human shields. Naturally, these acts of war result in losses among the terrorists and the civilians.
On the other hand, the East Aleppo terrorists have intensified their bombardment of West Aleppo resulting in tens of victims every day. On Wednesday, 28th September, a deluge of missiles and mortars rained down upon the Christian quarter of Azizia, killing 10 and injuring double this number.
Today, the 30th September, all areas of Aleppo are prey for the “rebels” with a rising number of dead and wounded. 36 dead and many critically injured.
Injured child in West Aleppo. (Photo: Tom Duggan)
Western media only shows images of East Aleppo, portraying destruction, human suffering and the outrage of the international community. This media is silent on the suffering of the inhabitants of West Aleppo, their dead and wounded following the “rebel” launched bombardments.
Aleppo Christians have always lived in the central and western areas of Aleppo. In five years of war, three quarters of the Christian community have fled Aleppo, today only 40,000 Christians remain in the city. The recent bombardment has particularly affected these communities.
The vast majority of civilians in West Aleppo wholeheartedly applaud the Syrian Army offensive. These Syrian civilians have suffered immensely over the last four years, sabotage of water supply, electricity cuts, regular humanitarian blockades and mortar attacks that have torn apart their wives, their husbands, their children and their friends. Attacks that have driven half the population to exodus.
These people believe it is the duty of the State to protect its population and to liberate its towns and cities.
From our side, of course we condemn any inhumane acts of war, we denounce war crimes and we are horrified by all suffering, but we are also outraged by the biased and partisan coverage of the war in Aleppo by the western media.
All Syrians, particularly Aleppins desire only peace. They have nostalgia for their beautiful, stable, secure, prosperous and secular pre-war, Syria. Nobody in Syria wants to live under an Islamist regime and everyone favours a political, diplomatic resolution of this “conflict” – a conflict that has caused the deaths of 300,000, double that number of injured and amputees, 8 million displaced, 3 million refugees out of a population of 23 million.
NOTE: Since the 30th September the number of deaths in West Aleppo has continued to climb and we deplore the daily massacres being committed in West Aleppo.
Translated from French by Vanessa Beeley