In our earlier article on the ongoing situation in war-torn Aleppo, more than three weeks ago, we had written about how hospitals were being targeted, about children dying, and the outrageous human rights violations by Bashar-al- Assad’s forces along with its Russian allies – refer to Hospitals Gone, The Civilians are Stranded. Fear and Destruction Haunt Aleppo
Reportedly, there has been no respite for the thousands of civilians still trapped in the rebel-dominated eastern Aleppo in spite of the Russian-brokered ceasefire declaration on Tuesday.
However, the deal to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians went sour the very next day. Wednesday witnessed the already ravaged region come under renewed attacks and shelling by the combined forces of Syria and its partners.
It was a merciless assault and gross human rights violation leaving in its wake hundreds and thousands maimed or dead, with tens of thousands of civilians stranded without medical aid and not much to look forward to.
The Syrian state forces with the support of Russian air raids, Shiite militias, and fighters from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Pakistan are on a relentless offensive against the predominantly Sunni rebel groups among reports and rumors that the rebels have received financial backing from countries including The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Rebels have been steadily losing ground to government forces assisted by their brothers in arms. Aleppo, the fourth largest city in Syria, is on the verge of a complete takeover by the Syrian regime.
Indeed, the fresh wave of concerted attacks indicates that a final push is underway for a complete takeover by government forces.
The director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group, Rami Abdulrahman said, “The clashes are violent and bombardment is very heavy… it seems as though everything [the ceasefire] is finished.”
Russia, by the way, has blamed the rebels of breaking the truce and evacuation deal by attacking government-controlled parts of Aleppo killing six people in the bargain.
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson said on Tuesday, “”The secretary-general is alarmed by reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children, in recent hours in Aleppo,”
“The opposition is describing the situation in besieged areas as catastrophic,” Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reported from Antakya in Turkey.
“They are issuing an urgent appeal to evacuate civilians who are trapped in besieged areas,” she said. “Tens of thousands of people are believed to be in a very small pocket of territory coming under intense bombardment.”
“The reports we had are of people being shot in the street trying to flee and shot in their homes,” UN human rights office spokesperson Rupert Colville said. “We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner.” He called it “a complete meltdown of humanity.”
If Colville’s figures are to be believed, 13 children and 11 women were among the 82 civilians killed on Monday itself.
According to Geert Cappelaere, the UNICEF regional director, “According to alarming reports from a doctor in the city, many children, possibly more than 100, unaccompanied or separated from their families, are trapped in a building under heavy attack in east Aleppo.”
After Tuesday’s truce declaration, hundreds of trapped residents had assembled in the streets, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, in the hope of finally being saved from the horrendous ordeal they had been subjected to for weeks. However, once news of the truce falling apart became evident distressful messages were sent:
Mohammed Abu Jaafar, the head of east Aleppo’s forensic authority’s desperate plea for help read, “For those who still have some humanity left please save us,” he said. “The international community has mocked us, Russia has mocked us, Iran has mocked us.”
“The injured and the dead are lying on the ground; there are no cars or anything to help rescue them. We beg you, we beg you, we beg you.”