The city of Aleppo has captured the world's attention this week as reports and images of destruction and violence flooded news feeds. This conflict has been raging for years (though it may finally be drawing near lasting peace), but since the reports about the situation have reached an extreme pace and intensity in recent days, there may be some details you don’t about Aleppo that might help you interpret what you’re seeing online.
The state-sponsored Syrian regime has been clashing with rebel forces in Aleppo, formerly the country’s most populated city, since 2012. Aleppo has permeated the global consciousness a few times throughout the intervening years, but many are confused by the complex situation. The city may finally be recaptured by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops, after substantial help in recent weeks from the Russian government, which really brought the conflict back into the news. The conflict has escalated to a fever pitch in the last few days as the rebels try to hold their ground, making the news environment a murky place to navigate right now.
These five details about the situation in Aleppo may help you understand all that has been lost in this devastating conflict and what is still at stake depending on who is ultimately victorious.
The City Was A Sprawling Metropolis Just A Few Years Ago
Before and after pictures of Aleppo since the war started five years ago are startling. Syria was considered one of the most politically stable countries in the region, but it only took half a decade to tear the country apart.
More Than 400,000 Syrians Have Died Since The Start Of The Conflict
According the United Nations' special envoy to Syria, more than 400,000 Syrians have died as a result of the war. An additional 11 million have been forced out of their homes and either internally or internationally displaced.
Some People Think The News Reports Of Violence Are A Conspiracy
This video reflects an actually relatively popular view that the emotional messages of Syrians posting about the ongoing fighting in Aleppo are part of a Western media scam to antagonize Russia.
But The Russian Government Is Allegedly Funding Those Propaganda Videos
The Russian government is aligned with Assad's regime, and according to Buzzfeed, it's helping spread claims that the goodbye messages from Aleppo are fake. In The Now, the new social media page that's producing these videos, is allegedly an offshoot of the Russian state-funded media organization RT. RT refuted to the claim on Friday, saying it's no longer affiliated with In The Now.
The War May Actually End Soon
Russian and American involvement was prolonging the conflict, but that might end now thanks to the emerging alliance between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. However, that might not be good news for the Syrian people, many of whom don't support the regime.
There's an obvious need for the violence and destruction in Aleppo to end, but there's also an unsettling feeling that its end will mean further injustice for the Syrian people. This situation is complex and difficult to navigate, but forming an educated opinion is critical to your ability to interpret it.