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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid