On the left is what Aleppo looked like pre-2011 and on the right, is what it looks like in 2016 after a 2013 attack.
All over the world, ordinary citizens are waking up to the realization that the status quo, for them is no longer sustainable. And so they fight. Against the government. Against monarchies. Against despots. And sadly sometimes, against their own kind.
In the middle east, this types of uprising have been termed the “Arab Spring”. It began in Tunisia and spread to several countries including Libya, Egypt, and Yemen before it spread to Syria: where all of the dynamics changed.
The war in Syria began in March 2011 when the usual discontent among citizens reared it’s head – in form of anger over underemployment, frustration with dictatorial style of governance and corruption in the higher echelons of government and it hasn’t let down since then with several foreign forces supporting the pro-government fighters on the one hand and the many different opposition fighters on the other.
So why Aleppo?
Aleppo, is a easily the largest city capital in Syria with a population of about 2.3 million and probably the most important city in terms of commerce and trade.
In terms of geography, it is also very strategic. Located in the eponymous Aleppo province in northwest Syria near the Turkish border. Today it’s the most significant battlefield in the Syrian civil war as it houses the opposition – a varied mix of several sects all fighting the Syrian President, Bashir Al-Assad’s military forces.
As a result, the city has not only suffered from Al-Assad’s forces, it has also been the base for the less highlighted – but no less devastating – conflicts between the opposition forces.
But if it’s just a conflict between the government and rogue opposition rebels, why can’t the world just rally behind Assad and push them out?
Glad you asked!
Let’s talk about the world and the foreign forces that have rallied behind one group or another in the Syrian war since it began.
As we said earlier, Aleppo’s position in the country both economically and geographically has opened it up a lot more than other cities to the perils of the war – not just from the two main sides but also from the international communities who have taken to one side or the other since 2011.
Last September, Bashir Al-Assad’s forces began a concerted effort to take back the city from the opposition fighters. By December, the President’s allies (mainly Russia, Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian forces) had rallied round to help him launch an offensive to take back the city. They made significant advances around the city mostly with the help of Russia’s air strikes and, by February this year, Bashir’s militia had nearly surrounded the city.
At the end of July, government forces had completely surrounded the rebels, taking control of Aleppo and blocking Castello Road, the only route into the rebel-held east. This successfully placed thousands of unarmed civilians under siege.
Following the dynamics of the civil war since it started in 2011, the rebels and al-Qaeda-linked jihadist fighters (and although it’s being denied, the United States-sponsored Sunni rebels) in the countryside outside Aleppo seized back control in the Ramousseh district in the south of the city linking them up with the outside world again.
This back and forth has been repeated in the last few months and as can be expected, has left several civilians dead in its wake.
This genocidal attack on innocent civilians that sadly find themselves living in key districts and routes that stand in the way of the forces have been the side effect of a power tussle between a divided opposition (sneakily supported in various degrees by Saudi Arabia and the United States) and a determined Bashir Al-Assad and his Russian support system sponsored by Putin.
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