Living like ghosts in the ruins of Syria’s besieged Aleppo

September 10, 2016 | By | Reply More

Sep 10, – Even if it were somehow possible to escape eastern Aleppo, Abdullah Shiyani, a 10-year-old boy who dreams of being a doctor, says he wouldn’t leave. It would mean leaving behind too many people who need help.

living-like-ghosts-in-the-ruins-of-syrias-besieged-aleppo“We have a lot of injured people here,” he told Reuters over the Internet. “Maybe we can help them.”

His father was a fighter, killed on the frontline. So he lives with his five siblings in a neighborhood that is almost an empty ghost town. They survive off money from a charity, buying potatoes, parsley and onions when they can. Three weeks ago they even had some meat.

Three of his friends were killed in a rocket attack a few months ago. With school long-since closed, he and his other friends spend their days racing through the empty streets, kicking a ball or playing a game called “guns and knives”.

They duck into buildings when the planes fly overhead, he says, because “we know about the machine guns firing from the planes”.

Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city before civil war uprooted half of the country’s population and killed hundreds of thousands of people, is now the conflict’s biggest prize. Opposition-held areas are now under total siege and heavy bombardment as President Bashar al-Assad’s government attempts to deal a death blow to a five year rebellion.

The city has been divided into rebel and government-held zones for years. But recent months have seen government troops, backed by Russian air strikes and Shi’ite fighters from Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, close in on the rebel zone, where a quarter of a million people remain trapped.

Civilians reached by Reuters over the Internet and telephone tell of a bleak existence amid the ruins — of shortages of food, water and electricity, and incessant fear for their own lives and their loved ones.

“Every day there are about three to four (air) raids close to our house,” said 33-year-old mother-of-one Um Fahd, whose husband, brother and father have all been killed. “Our neighbor’s house was shelled and destroyed. A lot of people have died but we’re still here, thank God.”

She and her son survive on an allowance of $50 a month from a charity, barely enough for food.

“It’s not enough, but we’re grateful for whatever we get,” she said.

In the home she shares with her son, her sister and her sister’s three children, the entire family crams into the sturdiest room in the house whenever they hear warplanes, in the hope it will shield them from bombing.

“When the kids hear the sound of plane, they immediately know that they should go to that room,” she said.

Another woman, Um Ahmed, described how she and her husband careered through gunfire and shelling to flee during a brief window when the siege was broken. When it was reimposed, her two sons and their families remained trapped inside. Her voice trembled as she described her own escape under gunfire.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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