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Aleppo: a Syrian tragedy

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Aleppo: a Syrian tragedy

This is not some distant planet. This is the eastern part of Aleppo, home to 250,000 people.

Water has been cut for a year and a half, and there's no power

Abu Al Yaman Eastern Aleppo resident

Relentless Syrian and Russian bombings on the rebel-held area have ravaged entire neighbourhoods, schools, hospitals – wounding and killing scores of civilians, many of them children.

Pictures of the city’s devastation have flooded social media, and public outrage is growing.

An online petition signed by dozens of activists and university professors from around the world pleads to stop the massacre.

This Friday, German weekly Stern chose to “keep silent” on its website. Its editors said they felt the humanitarian crisis in Syria deserved more media coverage. As a mea culpa, and because pictures speak louder than words, the paper only posted heartbreaking photos from Aleppo.

At the United Nations General Assembly last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon sounded the alarm on the situation in Syria. He condemned an attack on a UN aid convoy he described as “sickening, savage and apparently deliberate.”

Ghost town

Two weeks ago, Syrian and Russian forces launched a major air campaign on eastern Aleppo. The area now looks like a ghost town.

“Nobody stays here,” said Abu Al Yaman, a local resident who supports the rebel Free Syrian Army. “Only two to three families are known to have remained in the area. Water has been cut for a year and a half, and there’s no power.”

Back in Geneva, the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura warned on Thursday that eastern Aleppo could be wiped off the map if the bombings continued at this pace.

“The bottom line is in maximum two months, two and a half months, the city of eastern Aleppo, at this rate, may be totally destroyed. We are talking about the old city in particular. And thousands of civilians – not terrorists – will be killed,” he said.

US-Russian talks over a ceasefire have collapsed, and the world seems to look on helplessly as the tragedy unfolds.