News / Middle East

Syria's Aleppo: Wracked by Suffering, Enveloped in Fear

A doctor carries a severely wounded Syrian boy in the Dar El Shifa hospital, in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 4, 2012 after the child was hit by Syrian Army shelling.A doctor carries a severely wounded Syrian boy in the Dar El Shifa hospital, in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 4, 2012 after the child was hit by Syrian Army shelling.
x
A doctor carries a severely wounded Syrian boy in the Dar El Shifa hospital, in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 4, 2012 after the child was hit by Syrian Army shelling.
A doctor carries a severely wounded Syrian boy in the Dar El Shifa hospital, in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 4, 2012 after the child was hit by Syrian Army shelling.
Scott BobbMark Snowiss
VOA's Scott Bobb traveled to the war-torn northern Syrian city of Aleppo Thursday and left with vivid impressions of a complex community wracked by suffering and fear.

As Bobb and his rebel guides approached the city from the north, near-constant government mortar and artillery shelling could be heard. A single MiG jet made at least four flyovers, strafing the city with machinegun fire designed to intimidate civilians.

"Its clear these airplane raids, which occur regularly, appear less designed to take out rebel-held positions, although they may target them," said Scott Bobb.

Bobb said such attacks frequently miss their targets and hit residential areas. For the last month, he said, the number civilian casualties has skyrocketed.

"These are children, women, civilians. Yes, you do see fighters with injuries. The injuries of the fighters tend to be bullet wounds. The injuries you see many civilians with are shrapnel, bombings, limbs missing, very gruesome physical damage to the person.  This is what's terrorizing the population at this time," he said.




Bobb spoke to many people, a number of whom wanted to leave Aleppo but could not for various reasons. A young unemployed taxi driver stayed to care for his wounded brother. Another man did leave with his family, but the conditions where they had absconded were worse, so they returned.

The rebels, he said, hold parts of the Old City and the front is a ragged line that roughly cuts Aleppo in two from north to south around ever-changing government- and rebel-controlled areas. Parts of the city are often deserted at night as many people leave to sleep out in the open countryside where they feel safer.

Bobb described scenes of widespread destruction but also the small details of a community in decay.

"We were near the front line today in a rather elegant neighborhood that is completely deserted. All the inhabitants have fled. There were water mains that had burst in certain apartment buildings and water was flowing through the main door, down the stairs with no one to fix it. There was a fire burning on the top floor of another apartment building with no one to extinguish it," said Bobb.

Bobb did not experience Aleppo as a city divided between pro-rebel Sunnis and pro-government members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's minority, ruling Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

"I've spoken to Alawites who say they are against the Assad regime. And there are Sunnis who just want to stay out of it. There are some who say its really not a sectarian issue at all, but really a struggle against a 40+ year-old dictatorship - a very brutal one at that," he said.

Bobb added that while it is fair to say the conflict has tended to polarize sentiments along the Sunni-Alawite split, the reality on the ground is much more basic.

"What you can say is that Aleppo is a city at war: the war is within it, and it's destroying it," said Bobb.

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs