Aleppo is “about to enter the global dictionary of shame”.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the once-flourishing Syrian city and its population are about to become an “annihilated ruin”.
Commentators say the conflict in the city between Russian-backed government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters has entered its endgame.
For most, the horror of daily life in Aleppo is unimaginable. But for some, there is a terrible sense of deja-vu.
Only 20 years ago, the Balkan states were just beginning to think about recovery after enduring one of the worst civil conflicts in European history.
The 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo was a defining event.
The siege of Sarajevo
During the conflict in Bosnia, Serb forces took up positions in the hills surrounding the city.
They fired on soldiers and civilians trapped inside.
- An estimated 11,000 died (ICTY figures here)
- Siege lasted 1,400 days
- The war dated from 1992-95
People living in Sarajevo have called on capitals around the world to show solidarity with the citizens of Aleppo.
Residents of the Bosnian capital, many of whom survived Europe’s longest siege in modern history, are also urging world powers to stop the slaughter in Syria.
The Eiffel Tower went dark tonight in order to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. pic.twitter.com/froUTFruy7— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) December 14, 2016
The battle of Aleppo
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described the fighting as one of the most devastating conflics in modern times.
“The human cost of the fighting in Aleppo is simply too high. We urge all parties to stop the destruction and indiscriminate attacks and stop the killing.”
According to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, between 19 July 2012 and 15 December, 2016, there were:
- 31,010 deaths, of which:
- 22,633 men
- 2,849 women
- 3,773 boys
- 1,775 girls
- Four years of fighting
- 76% of casualties civilians, 24% military
These are estimated figures.
Definitive figures on the number of dead are almost impossible to come by.
However, in April, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, estimated at least 400,000 people had been killed in Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011.
Hundreds of citizens gathered in downtown Sarajevo to join the #StandWithAleppo global campaign.
Some carried placards reading “We support the Syrian people” and photographs drawing parallels between Aleppo in 2016 and Srebrenica in 1995.
8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed in the former UN-protected zone by Bosnian Serb forces.
What they are saying
“We know how it feels to be abandoned and forgotten. We remember how it is when there are no replies to the screams for help. So today, we stand united with Aleppo, Syria and all the other towns where people suffer,” – catholic priest and head of the Croatian cultural association in Sarajevo, Franjo Topic.
“We all know what happened here during the war. Innocent people are killed in war which never brings anything good. There is no winner in the war, only people get killed and the world is silent,” – Basem Chikha, a Syrian from Aleppo who has been living in Sarajevo for 20 years.
“By watching and reading news from Syria, it all comes back again,” – 73-year-old Junuz Dervovic, who survived the siege of Sarajevo.