The situation in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, is dire and only seems to be getting worse. After years of conflict, the circumstances have hit a new low in Aleppo. Since 2011, there's been an ongoing crisis in the region between the pro-Bashar al-Assad Syrian army and rebel forces. Things seemed to take an even more drastically terrible turn at the beginning of this week; the Syrian army went full-steam on the rebel-held city and aggressively took to decimating it, dropping "barrel bombs" (barrel-shaped devices usually holding explosives, shrapnel, etc.) from helicopters. "Yesterday evening, we received further deeply disturbing reports that numerous bodies were lying on the streets," said United Nations spokesman Rupert Colville, adding that "The residents were unable to retrieve them due to the intense bombardment and their fear of being shot on sight."
The human toll is incomprehensible: according to Amnesty International, about half of the entire population of Syria has been displaced, a quarter of a million people have been killed, not to mention the millions of people still in desperate need of humanitarian aide. The amount of moving parts and sheer volume of catastrophe surrounding the battle can be overwhelming. These are the top three things you need to know right now about the current situation in Aleppo.
1. Options To Flee Are Limited And Perilous
As the devastation in Aleppo continues, people are running out of options. In order to escape the bombs being dropped by the pro-Assad forces, people are attempting to get out of the city. But even back in July, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that those people will be "killed if they leave their homes or attempt to flee."
2. An Evacuation Is Being Attempted, But It's Rocky
On Tuesday, the rebels and pro-government forces reached a ceasefire that would let rebels and trapped civilians leave the city and go to other "opposition-held areas," CBS News reported. However, while an evacuation of Aleppo to rescue trapped civilians had started was supposed to be underway, there have already been a number of reported concerns and issues. According to a CBS report, the initial round of ambulances carrying civilians were fired upon by pro-Assad forces.
3. The Lack Of International (Especially American) Effort Is Beyond Disappointing
While Obama is experiencing relatively high popularity, more are noting that his White House has done relatively little in response to Assad's massive human rights violations and destruction. Obama declined to use strong military force to attempt to put stop to the horrors. "There are going to be some bad things that happen around the world, and we have to be judicious," Obama said in a CNN town hall debate in September.
On Wednesday, al Hussein released a statement, imploring the international community to act. "The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict," he stated, adding:
What can happen next, if the international community continues to collectively wring its hands, can be much more dangerous.
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