Assad’s forces are entering eastern Aleppo and the scenes are horrific. It has been described as a “complete meltdown of humanity” by the United Nations. Reports relayed by the UN allege that the pro-government forces are entering homes and killing civilians, including women and children.
100,000 people are trapped in besieged areas with no way out. Millions have fled since the beginning of the civil war and more than 10,000 have done so in the past 24 hours.
“Real massacres” are taking place as forces loyal to Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad continue their push to capture the last remaining neighborhoods held by rebels in the city.
Activists in Aleppo are tweeting out their final, harrowing goodbyes. They will almost certainly be detained/tortured/killed upon capture.
— Ben Taub (@bentaub91) December 12, 2016
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for U.N. human rights said, We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner of eastern Aleppo”.
“I am waiting to die or be captured by the Assad regime…Pray for me and always remember us,” photographer Ameen al-Halabi wrote on Facebook.
Every message now that I’m receiving from east Aleppo is preceded with “this may be my last message”. The heart breaks.
— Kareem Shaheen (@kshaheen) December 12, 2016
Final message – I am very sad no one is helping us in this world, no one is evacuating me & my daughter. Goodbye.- Fatemah #Aleppo
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 12, 2016
We are still here in #Besieged_Aleppo regime did not take the city, people are needs for help,we are calling for an international protection
— Monther Etaky (@montheretaky) December 12, 2016
Ammar al Salmo, leader of the Syrian civil defense in Aleppo spoke about the devastation: “The situation on the ground is catastrophic. Every moment is worse than before. Right now there are 100,000 civilians trapped in 3-5 square kilometers – the remaining part of the besieged areas. Everything has stopped except the shelling, except the starving, except the cold of the winter and the fear and the terror. Everything has stopped.”
The Red Cross is calling for urgent action to protect those still inhabiting the war-torn city “before it is too late”. Ammar al Salmo added: “We prefer death to being detained, to being executed. We prefer death here. Because we have no option right now, either to die by the bomb or to die by detention or execution. What will the world do if we are detained or die in regime detention? Nothing.”
A culmination of months of human rights abuses
- In September, UNICEF slammed the Syrian government for inflicting a “living nightmare” on the children in the city, reporting that 96 children had died with 223 more injured in the bombings, shortly after government forces began their push to retake eastern Aleppo. “There are no words left to describe the suffering they are experiencing,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said.
- Later that same month, the UK, U.S. and French ambassadors to the United Nations walked out of a UN Security Council, “After five years of conflict, you might think that the regime has had its fill of barbarity, but the regime and Russia have instead plunged to new depths and unleashed a new hell on Aleppo,” UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
- The following month UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the security council: “If you don’t take action, there will be no Syrian peoples or Syria to save – that will be this council’s legacy, our generation’s shame.”
- Hours after Stephen’s speech reports came in of deaths of children following a bombing in Idlib province near Aleppo. “This is a tragedy. It is an outrage. And if deliberate, it is a war crime,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said. “This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.”
- In November Amnesty International said the Syrian government forces showed a “callous disregard for the safety of civilians” in eastern Aleppo. They warned that “given the Syrian government’s long and dark history of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances on a mass scale, it is even more crucial that civilians are protected in newly captured areas of Aleppo city.”
- Russia and China continue to block the UN Security Council from passing any resolutions to alleviate the problem in Aleppo.
- Earlier in December, Human Rights Watch accused Syria and Russia of committing war crimes over the previous two months after reports of more than 440 civilians had been killed.