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Posts tagged ‘Lion City of Aleppo’

More than 200 injured Aleppans treated in Turkey

24 December 2016 Saturday

Turkish authorities said Saturday that 220 seriously injured Aleppan civilians have been treated in Turkey following the evacuation of the war-battered Syrian city of Aleppo.

The injured civilians were taken from the opposition-held city of Idlib to waiting ambulances at the Turkish border crossing of Cilvegozu, the Turkish Prime Ministry Directorate General of Press and Information told Anadolu Agency.

The figure of 220 Aleppans includes 93 injured children.

Thirty-one have been discharged following treatment.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/182188/more-than-200-injured-aleppans-treated-in-turkey.

Syria regime executes paediatrician for treating Aleppo children

February 18, 2017

Syrian regime forces have executed the Syrian pediatrician Mahmoud Satu after he was indicted for treating and feeding the children of Aleppo when its eastern districts were controlled by the opposition, the Jordanian Assabeel newspaper reported yesterday.

Citing the London-based news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Assabeel said that local sources in Aleppo said that Satu and another Syrian resident called Ahmed Assad were executed two months after they were arrested.

According to the sources, the two men were executed in the main square of the Al-Sukarri neighborhood in Aleppo, the area where he and his family had lived.

Sources close to Satu told a Syrian news site El-Dorar that he was arrested on 11 December 2016, when the regime raided the Al-Salihin neighborhood in Aleppo. The Syrian news site also said that the pediatrician and his family were captured when they were trying to leave Aleppo with the other residents.

Satu worked in the city of Aleppo in field hospitals. He was reported as having refused to leave Aleppo along with his family, but they were arrested and the doctor was executed over “treating and feeding the children of terrorists.”

According to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Satu wrote on his Facebook page before he was arrested: “What is going on in Aleppo is heart-breaking and a savage and barbaric act which is not being done except by a dog dealing with pigs. He [Al-Assad] forgets that God is watching.”

The Syrian regime and its Iran-backed Shia jihadist allies, backed by Russian airpower, gained control of Aleppo after three months of fierce ground attacks and airstrikes. Hundreds of civilians were killed and wounded as homes, schools and hospitals were targeted.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170218-syria-regime-executes-paediatrician-for-treating-aleppo-children/.

In midst of Aleppo wreckage, a Syrian family returns home

January 22, 2017

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) — The street looks as if it was hit by an earthquake and the bombed-out building in a former rebel-held northeastern neighborhood of Aleppo is deserted — except for the second-floor apartment where Abdul-Hamid Khatib and his family are staying.

There is no electricity or running water. The apartment windows are covered with nylon sheets and a hole caused by a shell in the sitting room wall is closed with a piece of metal, pierced by the exhaust pipe for the wood-burning heater.

Khatib and his family are the only occupants of the six-story building and they keep its main gate locked with a metal chain, fearing looters. At night, they fumble around the two-bedroom apartment with candles.

But the family has nowhere else to go. The 56-year-old blacksmith had been jobless for months and could not afford to continue paying rent. He was worried their apartment in Aleppo’s Ansari neighborhood would be completely looted if they stayed away.

“A few days ago a man who brought some stuff over told me, ‘Is it possible that you live here?’ I said where can we go? At least this is our house and no one will ask us to leave,” said Hasnaa, Khatib’s wife.

Life and war have been very unkind to the Khatib family. The eldest son Mohammed was killed in the bombardment of east Aleppo in 2013 and their granddaughter Hasnaa, 4, was killed a year later by a bullet as she played on the balcony of her parents’ apartment. Their son Mahmoud died at work of severe burns while welding a metal container filled with gas.

Since rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad stormed east Aleppo in July 2012, the family had to leave the house twice to move to safer areas, before returning back home. But in August 2016, when government forces intensified their offensive on east Aleppo, an airstrike near their home forced them to flee for the third time.

“It was so dangerous and our kids were terrified so we could not tolerate it anymore. We used to tell the gunmen to move away from here but they would not listen to us,” Abdul-Hamid said. In late December, government forces and their allies took control of east Aleppo, bringing the whole city under state control in the biggest victory for Assad since the country’s conflict began in March 2011.

The Khatib family — like many of east Aleppo’s residents — were taken to shelters in the village of Jibrin, just south of Aleppo, where they spent a week before returning to their hometown during the first week of January.

Having little money left to rent an apartment, they returned to their abandoned home in Ansari and fixed it as much as possible. They found many of their belongings looted including the refrigerator, stove, a microwave and seven gas cylinders. When asked who was behind the looting, Khatib blamed both rebels and pro-government gunmen.

The couple now lives in the apartment with their daughter Rasha, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, Abdul-Hamid and Rimas. Their apartment appears in relatively good shape compared with nearby housing units. The buildings on either side of theirs are uninhabitable. Most buildings in their area are either a pile of metal and stones, or so damaged they’re no longer suitable to live in. Their home now attracts attention from curious passersby as it’s the only apartment on the street with washed laundry hanging from the balcony and wood smoke coming from the heater.

Thousands of other families from east Aleppo have returned to their homes because they have nowhere else to go. Others come in every day to look at their homes and take whatever they can carry with them — especially those in heavily damaged buildings. One neighboring family came to check on their home about 50 meters away and found it could collapse at any moment.

Despite everything, Abdul-Hamid Khatib is optimistic that the situation in his city can only get better. But his wife, Hasnaa, wishes they had fled Syria and joined the nearly four million refugees who settled in neighboring countries, mostly Lebanon and Turkey.

“I feel life was so unjust to me. Although I am alive, I feel as if I am dead,” she said, sitting on a plastic chair in her living room.” I wish we left at the beginning of the crisis, even if we had to stay in the street.”

Explosion rocks east Aleppo in Syria as residents return

December 24, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) — An explosion rocked eastern Aleppo on Saturday as some residents were returning to their homes after the government assumed full control of the city earlier this week, state TV reported while fresh airstrikes on a rebel-held town near Aleppo killed at least five people.

The airstrikes on areas near the northern city of Aleppo show the government has resumed military activities after days of calm that coincided with the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians and rebels from east Aleppo.

On Thursday, President Bashar Assad’s forces took control of eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo for the first time since July 2012, marking the government’s biggest victory since the crisis began more than five years ago.

Government forces will likely now try to secure the outskirts of the city as rebels are based in the western and southwestern suburbs of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and once commercial center. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an airstrike on the town of Atareb, west of Aleppo, killed five people including a man, his daughter and daughter-in-law.

The Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, said the airstrikes killed seven people including a woman and two children. The Saturday noon airstrike on Atareb came after airstrikes on nearby villages the night before killed three rebels, according to the Observatory.

Earlier Saturday, state TV said the explosion in east Aleppo was caused by a device left inside a school by Syrian rebels, who withdrew from their last remaining enclave under a cease-fire deal after more than four years of fighting. It said three people were wounded in the blast.

A correspondent for Lebanon’s Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV was reporting live from the area when the blast sounded in the background, sending a huge cloud of dust into the air. The correspondent later said that at least three people were killed.

In the capital Damascus, state news agency SANA said militants blew up the Barada water pipeline in the suburb of Kafr al-Zayt. SANA quoted the director of Damascus and Damascus Countryside Water Establishment Hussam Hreidin as saying that the pipeline went out of service due to the attack. He added that the pipeline had been fixed and its service restored on Friday less than a month after a similar attack.

Pro-government media said the government was forced to cut water supplies coming to the Syrian capital for a few days and use reserves instead after rebels polluted the water with diesel. The al-Fija spring which supplies Damascus with water is in the rebel-held Barada valley northwest of the capital in a mountainous area near the Lebanese border.

The cut in water supplies comes at a time when government forces and their allies are on the offensive in the Barada Valley area.

Syrian government takes full control of Aleppo after 4 years

December 23, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian government took full control of Aleppo on Thursday for the first time in four years after the last opposition fighters and civilians were bused out of war-ravaged eastern districts, sealing the end of the rebellion’s most important stronghold.

The evacuations ended a brutal chapter in Syria’s nearly six-year civil war, allowing President Bashar Assad to regain full authority over the country’s largest city and former commercial powerhouse. It marked his most significant victory since an uprising against his family’s four-decade rule began in 2011.

The announcement was made via an army statement broadcast on Syrian state TV shortly after the last four buses carrying fighters left through the Ramousseh crossing. “Thanks to the blood of our heroic martyrs, the heroic deeds and sacrifices of our armed forces and the allied forces, and the steadfastness of our people, the General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces announces the return of security and stability to Aleppo,” an army general said in the statement.

Western Aleppo erupted in heavy celebratory gunfire, with Syrian TV showing uniformed soldiers and civilians shouting “Aleppo, Aleppo!” and “God, Syria and Bashar only!” “No more east and west, Aleppo is back for all Aleppans,” said the Syrian TV correspondent, surrounded by people waving Syrian flags.

For Syria’s opposition, it was a crushing defeat that signaled the start of a new struggle to forge a way forward. Ahmad al-Khatib, an opposition media activist who left the city before the siege, said the fall of Aleppo was a date “we’ll never forget and we will never forgive.”

“Let the world bear witness that Bashar Assad has killed and displaced and destroyed Aleppo, and he celebrates in his victory over the blood and offspring of Aleppo … with the agreement of the Arab and Western nations,” he posted on Twitter.

The ancient city had been divided into rebel and government parts since 2012, when rebels from the countryside swept in and took hold of eastern districts. That set the stage for more than four years of brutal fighting and government bombardment that laid waste to those neighborhoods.

The army statement said the victory in Aleppo is a “strategic transformation and a turning point in the war on terrorism and a deadly blow to the terrorist project and its supporters.” It was a further incentive to keep fighting to “eradicate terrorism and restore security and stability to every span of the homeland,” it added.

Earlier in the day, Assad said his forces’ achievements in Aleppo are a “major step on the road to wiping out terrorism” and ending the civil war. The rebel evacuations were set in motion after a months-long siege and Russian-backed military campaign. Years of resistance were stamped out in a relentless campaign over the past month that saw hospitals bombed, bodies left unburied and civilians killed by shells as they fled for safety.

The campaign targeted all remaining hospitals, knocking them out of service. Medical and food supplies ran out and fighters were left demoralized and abandoned by their regional allies. Under a deal brokered by Russia and Turkey, tens of thousands of residents and fighters began evacuating to opposition-controlled areas in the surrounding countryside, a process that took a week.

More than 35,000 fighters and civilians were bused out, according to the United Nations. The ICRC said in a statement that more than 4,000 additional fighters were evacuated in private cars, vans and trucks since Wednesday.

The departure of the last convoy Thursday was a humiliating defeat for the opposition. The rebels’ hold in Aleppo was a major point of pride, and at times the city seemed to be an invulnerable part of what was once a growing opposition-held patch of territory in the north.

The divided northern city has paid dearly as a central theater of the war. In the past month alone, hundreds of civilians were killed by intense bombardment of rebel-held zones. A photo of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh — confused and covered in dust and blood as he sat in an ambulance after being rescued in August from the rubble of a building — became a haunting image in the unforgiving struggle.

Associated Press writers Philip Issa and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed reporting.

Last remaining rebels and civilians await Aleppo evacuation

December 20, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) — The last Syrian rebels and civilians are awaiting evacuation from the remainder of what was once a rebel enclave in eastern Aleppo, a day after the U.N. Security Council approved sending observers to monitor the exodus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that more than 15,000 people, among them 5,000 opposition fighters, have left the enclave since the rebels effectively surrendered the area under an Ankara- and Moscow-brokered deal. It’s unclear how many remain.

In Moscow, foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran are meeting on Tuesday to discuss Syria, but the talks are likely to be overshadowed by the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey the previous night by an Ankara policeman, who after killing his victim cried out: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”

UN approves Aleppo monitors as evacuations from city proceed

December 20, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) — The leaders of Russia and Iran, military allies of Syria’s president, talked Monday about joining forces to reach a quick political settlement in Syria, as the country’s largest city, Aleppo, was poised to return to full government control.

Syrian state TV said it expected the evacuation of thousands of civilians and fighters from the last opposition footholds in Aleppo to be completed by early Tuesday. As more people left the city, the U.N. Security council approved a compromise French-Russian resolution urging the immediate deployment of U.N. monitors to watch over the evacuation and “the well-being of civilians” remaining in the city. U.N. officials said more than 100 U.N. humanitarian staff already on the ground in Aleppo, most of them Syrian nationals, could be used in that role.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said the goal of the resolution is “to avoid new mass atrocities by the forces on the ground and the militias in particular.” But thousands of people have already been evacuated from the city and the operation could be completed before the observers arrive.

The departure of the last rebels from Aleppo would close another chapter in Syria’s civil war and would give President Bashar Assad a significant symbolic and strategic victory. Almost six years after the outbreak of an armed rebellion against Assad, the Syrian leader will be in charge again of the country’s five largest cities and the Mediterranean coast.

The presidents of Russia and Iran spoke by phone Monday to discuss the next moves. The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani “underlined the need for joint efforts to launch a real political process aimed at a quick settlement in Syria.”

The leaders noted that a quick launch of talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, would be an important step toward that goal, a Kremlin statement said. The conversation came a day before a scheduled meeting of foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Moscow. Russia and Iran have backed Assad, while Turkey has supported the opposition.

The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, welcomed the Moscow meeting and any effort that results in a cessation of hostilities. He announced that the United Nations hopes to arrange negotiations between the government and opposition in Geneva on Feb. 8.

In the Turkish capital of Ankara, meanwhile, the Russian ambassador was shot to death by a man shouting, “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria!” The gunman fired at least eight shots, killing Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, at an embassy-sponsored exhibition, and was then slain by police.

Discussing the Security Council resolution calling for monitors in Aleppo, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said there would also be observers from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Crescent.

The resolution also demands that all parties allow unconditional and immediate access for the U.N. and its partners to deliver humanitarian aid and medical care, and “respect and protect all civilians across Aleppo and throughout Syria.”

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador, Bashar al-Ja’afari, claimed that one of the “main purposes” government opponents pushed for the resolution was to get people into eastern Aleppo to rescue foreign intelligence officers still in the former rebel-held area.

He named 12 alleged officers still trying to get out of Aleppo — six from Saudi Arabia and one each from Turkey, the United States, Israel, Qatar, Jordan and Morocco. He said: “We are going to catch them … and show them to you.”

The rebels captured eastern Aleppo in July 2012 and held on to it despite a ferocious assault in recent months by Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and a host of Shiite militias from Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Afghanistan.

The evacuation of Aleppo began last week after Turkey and Russia brokered a cease-fire as government forces were closing in on the rebels’ last redoubt, but has been repeatedly delayed. The evacuation of more than 2,000 sick and wounded from the rebel- besieged Shiite villages of Foua and Kfarya was tacked onto the deal at the last minute. The opposition’s Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV said 10 buses left those villages with civilians on Monday.

There are also plans to evacuate hundreds of people from Madaya and Zabadani, two besieged, rebel-held villages near the Lebanese border. The Observatory and Mayadeen said 15 buses entered the two villages on Monday.

Rebel-held eastern Aleppo has been besieged for months, with several previous cease-fires breaking down and virtually no humanitarian aid reaching its tens of thousands of residents. One of those who left Aleppo on Monday was Mohammed Abu Jaafar, who described a miserable five-kilometer (three-mile) trip that took more than two hours in an overcrowded government bus.

He said they passed three checkpoints, one manned by Russian troops, another by plainclothes Syrian intelligence agents and the third by Syrian troops. Inside the bus, men, women and children were hungry and cold as they waited for hours in freezing temperatures, he said.

“Children were screaming, and some people fainted,” he said, adding that there was no baby formula or diapers. Among those evacuated Monday was 7-year-old Bana Alabed and her mother Fatemah, who tweeted about the horrors of living through the government’s assault on eastern Aleppo, which destroyed much of the city. Their account had some 334,000 followers.

Speaking to the activist-run Qasioun News Agency in the Aleppo countryside, Fatemah said she was glad to have finally reached safety but expressed regret that she was forced out of her home city and said she did not want to become a refugee.

“I left my soul there,” she said. The Observatory and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later said that since midnight Sunday, some 4,500 people have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo. Reports differed on how many people remain in eastern Aleppo, but estimates converge around 15,000 civilians and 6,000 fighters.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said a total of 131 wounded people — including 46 children — were brought to Turkey for treatment since the evacuations began last week. The agency said five of them have since died.

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue reported this story from Beirut and AP writer Edith M. Lederer reported from the United Nations.

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