Image Credits: Aleppo Media Center, BARAA AL-HALABI / AFP – Getty Images
While the American media marveled at the meeting President-elect Trump and Kanye West had on Tuesday morning, an international humanitarian crisis climaxed. The fascination with the Trump-Kanye encounter overshadowed the absolute brutality and horror that is occurring in Syria. For over five years, civil war has ravaged the country of Syria. Thousands have been killed, and millions internally displaced. The country has dissolved into pure chaos.
Earlier this week, the civil war came to a head when Bashar al-Assad’s government forces moved into the eastern section of Aleppo, a large city in Syria divided between the government and rebels. Aleppo was at one time the financial and industrial hub of the nation, however it is now in ruins. Not only have Assad’s forces moved in, but notably, countries like Russia and Iran also have troops supporting the government. In terms of the United States, this involvement has raised concerns for Americans, especially considering the Obama administration’s attempts at diplomacy with Iran with the nuclear deal. Nevertheless, the combination of forces moving into Aleppo has caused the city to all but fall into the hands of the Assad regime.
The effects of the war have been costly. Specifically highlighted by recent developments, there is a severe humanitarian crisis at hand. Syrians in the eastern half of the Aleppo put out messages via social media yesterday pleading for help. Many of them shamed the world for its silence with their statements on the harsh reality of their situation. In most of the videos, the people believed they would be giving their last words. They spoke of the “apocalyptic” situation, much of the videos quickly filmed as government-backed forces approached. One dentist from Aleppo sent a video, saying “everybody that can send a message to his government, to his country … ask him to stop the aggression, stop the killing, stop the war.” Children were trapped under buildings, executions were taking place, and people “were taken to warehouses that look more like internment camps.” Horrifyingly, it was reported that 20 women committed suicide in order to avoid being raped. This is just the beginning of the atrocities that have taken place in Syria, and Aleppo specifically.
Since yesterday’s climax in the fight over Aleppo, a ceasefire was apparently reached by Turkey and Russia late last night. It would allow for evacuations from the eastern side of the city to take place, starting with the injured. However, it seems that the deal has collapsed as quickly as it came about. Government forces, bolstered by Russia and Iran, have halted the evacuations. While people believed the worst was over, that escape was near, it seems like it was false hope. The city is still under siege, and there has been no clarity on the state of evacuations.