News / Middle East

Syrian University Town Could Hold Key to End to Conflict

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The ongoing uprising in Syria has left one of the country's largest cities a city divided. Aleppo is still a government stronghold, but it is also the source of anti-government opposition.

Aleppo is a major port close to Turkey. It's Syria's economic center.  Here, the business elite support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.  

"We trust that he's going to do some good stuff to this country and to the people," said interior designer Rashed al-Tabshi. "He likes his people."

Many in Aleppo show their love for Mr. Assad at pro-government rallies.

But across town, a different scene: anti-government protests at Aleppo University, Syria's second largest institute of higher learning.

Grey uniformed security forces monitor the campus and break up the protests, but more demonstrations erupt elsewhere.

Sasha Ghosh-Siminoff attended Aleppo University and now lives in the U.S.

"In terms of students, they are just stubborn," he said. "They go out from their schools, whether it's the department of arts and sciences or on the residential campuses they live in, they can still organize and coordinate."

Syrian University Town Could Hold Key to End to Conflict
Syrian University Town Could Hold Key to End to Conflict

In the city, Aleppo residents complain about blackouts and scarce fuel for their homes and cars. This man says he feels trapped in his home. We spoke with him via Skype.

"You can't trust anybody at all on the streets on Aleppo or any other city in Syria," he said.

The Syrian violence is in its 11th month, with no sign of it ending.  Many people say the turning point could be here, in the government stronghold of Aleppo.  Our contact via Skype has this to say:

“If the regime falls or the revolution wins, it doesn’t matter for me," he said. "What I need is the peace to go in the street without any restriction.”

But for now, most Syrians have little peace.

 

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

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