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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More