Recently, the Syrian government finally took control of Aleppo and drove the rebel troops out of the heart of the city.
For more than four years the civil war in Syria raged violently, destroying the country and the lives of its citizens. While this turmoil happens, Aleppo was always highlighted in the international news, providing us with a lot of moving photos and clips from the war.
And because the Middle East is so detached with the rest of the world due of the war, most of us do not know what’s really happening in Aleppo, and our heads are full with questions regarding this matter that needs answering.
How did the turmoil begin?
The Syrian Civil War broke out around March of 2011 in the city of Deraa. Teenagers performed a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, crying for democracy and stronger human rights. When some security forces opened fire on youth protesters and killed some of them, people from different Syrian cities were encouraged to rise up against the government as well. Eventually, the streets of Syria were brimming with demonstrations each day, and later both the protesters and the government began to take up arms.
Various rebel parties formed across Syria, taking control of different major cities including Aleppo. Despite their differences, they all have a unified goal to topple Assad’s government. Unfortunately, the civilians were the ones who truly suffered on the civil war, killing more than 250,000 people in the past years.
Why is the city of Aleppo important?
Aleppo is Syria’s largest city. In fact, its old settlement is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a cradle of Syria’s rich culture and history.
A mosque made centuries ago stood in the middle of the city, and the streets are full of stalls and peddlers. Aleppo is a colorful and robust place. Sadly, this heartwarming beauty is now gone due to the ruthlessness of the war, especially the air strikes executed by the Syrian government. Today, Aleppo’s hanging to its dear life, and most of its parts are in rubbles.
All major establishments in the city are decimated, especially hospitals. Because of this, volunteers started to flock the city to help civilians.
Before Aleppo was liberated, the city was controlled by the rebels in the east and the government troops in the west. Now that the Syrian government has captured it from the clutches of the rebels, all four major Syrian cities are now under their control.
What happened in the past years?
Because rebels are taking hold of various cities, civilians are forced not only to leave their homes, but the whole country itself. More than 6.5 million Syrians have left the country in 2015 alone. Syria’s neighbor countries, Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, gladly aided the Syrians to get clear of the warfare, but being one of the largest refugee journeys in latest memory, accomplishing it is easier said than done.
At present, 10% of the refugees are now in Europe, facing the challenge of finding which country will welcome them. Aleppo has the biggest number of refugees, mostly little kids. Children refugees are horrified and traumatized; smiles have faded away from the faces. The things they saw may be utterly unimaginable that they cannot shed tears at all. Aleppo’s charming ambience is nothing but a poignant memory.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the civil war, reports confirmed of use of chemical weapons, which is strictly prohibited by international laws because of the lethal damage it can bring. Western powers claimed that the Syrian government was the one responsible for this, but they denied this and pointed to the rebels instead.
Aside from this government-rebel mayhem, a third party brought additional problems to Syria: the Islamic State. This group, composed of Islamists and jihadists, used the war-torn Syria to advance their personal goals. Now, the Islamic State, commonly called ISIS, got the attention of the worldwide audience and caused everyone to feel less safe.
What’s going to happen now?
Aleppo is now under the control of the Syrian government, the endgame of the civil war cannot be pinpointed easily with the matters at hand. Rebels still lurk in the areas that they control, the Islamic State gets in war’s way, and the number of refugees needed to be transported are steadily increasing. Since the arms conflict, the United Nations together with other global entities tried to establish a local ceasefire and make Aleppo a “freeze zone.” These were all rejected, and the war cannot be suppressed with equal violence. In the end, it is said that only a reboot of the Syrian politics can put the war to an end.
War is just a bickering of two sides armed with strong beliefs and weapons. War might be a useful way to fully cement these beliefs as foundation of what is true, but its aftermath can be harsh and difficult to accept. Hopefully, the Syrian Civil War shall come to an end, with both sides achieving a peaceful agreement. This way, we might see smiles on the faces of the children once more as they reunite with their families and return to their homes in Aleppo. (Luke Godoy)