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 Apr. 30, 2016 Thousands flee Aleppo under cover of darkness as Assad planes circle for final offensive

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مُساهمةموضوع: Apr. 30, 2016 Thousands flee Aleppo under cover of darkness as Assad planes circle for final offensive    الإثنين 02 مايو 2016, 7:53 am

Apr. 30, 2016
  
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Thousands flee Aleppo under cover of darkness as Assad planes circle for final offensive
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A Syrian family runs for cover following an air strike on a rebel-held area of Aleppo CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Recovering in Turkey after a deadly air strike on a hospital in Aleppo, all that Abu Abdu Tebyiah could think about was the six children he had been forced to leave behind.
Mr Tebyiah was critically injured when the Syrian regime dropped three bombs on al-Quds hospital next to his house in the east of the city last Thursday.
He was one of a lucky few allowed over the border to receive treatment for his broken ribs and pelvis, wounds that would probably have killed him otherwise. But the 49-year-old shop owner was taken away so quickly that he had little chance to tell his rescuers that his children were waiting for him at home.
“They are too young to be on their own,” Mr Tebyiah told the Telegraph. “The government is using barrel bombs on our neighbourhood again, so I stopped them going to school. They are now in great danger.”
Mr Tebyiah said the only way to bring his children to Turkey, which closed its border to fleeing Syrians earlier this year, was to pay smugglers $500 for each child - money he did not have.
“I have to find a solution as soon as possible," he said. "Or I don’t want to think what will happen.”
 

Smoke rises after air strikes on the rebel-held al-Sakhour neighborhood of Aleppo CREDIT: REUTERS
Fighting has intensified in Syria’s second city this week, claiming over 250 lives and ending in all but name a much-vaunted ceasefire agreed in February.
Now the opposition-controlled eastern side of Aleppo is braced for an offensive by Bashar al-Assad's regime and his Russian and Iranian allies. If Assad succeeds in recapturing the whole of the city, it could change the course of the war.
 

The aftermath of another air strike in a rebel-held area of Aleppo CREDIT: REUTERS
As the regime's bombs dropped on their houses, hospitals and schools, residents wondered where their supposed protectors, the Americans, were.
Many had been optimistic that the ceasefire, brokered by the United States and Russia, was the ray of hope that Aleppo needed after enduring four years of killing since Syria's war came to the city in 2012.
اقتباس :
 

Children look out from a balcony at a site hit by air strikes, in Bustan al-Qasr, a rebel-held area of Aleppo. CREDIT: REUTERS
But, a few week later, they found the bombs were dropping once more.
Moscow says that eastern Aleppo is controlled by jihadist rebels - including Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate - and so it should not be covered by the truce.
“The fighting there is very alarming,” a US State Department spokesman said when asked why America did not try to halt the escalating violence in Aleppo. "But the situation is very complex," he added.
Aleppo was Syria's commercial hub before the war, home to some two million people. Because of its strategic location near the Turkish border and symbolic significance, it is often said that whoever holds Aleppo wins the conflict.
Neither side has managed to fully control it since rebels captured parts of the east in 2012. The president and his troops have been preparing for months for what they call a "war of all wars" to retake Aleppo.
Victory for Assad in the city would convince regional powers that his regime is not about to fall, giving him much greater bargaining power around a negotiating table.
Thousands of Aleppo's people have fled in the last 72 hours, according to Ismail al-Abdullah, an activist living in the city who said that residents were afraid of what is to come.
“Many gather between 5 and 6am under the cover of darkness, before they can be spotted by the planes,” he said.
The regime's air strikes have become a grim routine - always beginning at 7am, pounding the rebel side of the city, where some 200,000 people still live.
More than 30 such bombing raids took place before midday on Saturday, adding six more lives to the mounting death toll.

Little girl rescued from rubble of Aleppo air strike Play! 01:39
Zahra al-Mansour and her three children were among those leaving. Carrying only a hastily packed bag of schoolbooks, food and clothes, she did not know exactly where they was going, but she knew they had to get away before the Syrian and Russian bombs started dropping.
Ms Mansour, a 38-year-old teacher, had stayed in Aleppo out of loyalty to her husband - a rebel fighter who was killed in battle last Christmas - and after his death out of a pride that had stopped her from leaving the only city she has called home.
“No matter how bad it got, I somehow always had faith we would be ok,” she told the Telegraph. “This time it is different. Every street is marked by war - I realise now Assad will not stop until there is no one left.”

Even leaving offers little guarantee of safety. The only way out of Syria - the once porous Bab al-Salam border crossing into Turkey - has now been closed. Turkey wants to create a safe zone inside Syria rather than admit the estimated 100,000 refugees waiting at the frontier.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, had talked of a "Plan B" if the ceasefire and peace talks in Geneva collapsed. This was believed to include supplying moderate rebels with more powerful weapons, such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that would render Russian warplanes vulnerable.
 

The aftermath of a regime or Russian ar strike, in a rebel-held area of Aleppo CREDIT: REUTERS
But US officials continue to claim the truce is still alive. Even as rescuers pulled children from the ruins of al-Quds hospital’s paediatric ward on Thursday, John Kirby, the State Department spokesman said: “I think we would still maintain that it has largely held."
Kyle Orton, a Middle East analyst at the Henry Jackson Society, believes that America’s inertia shows that President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Assad’s loyal ally, is now calling the shots.

“Russia has always had a clear idea of what this ceasefire is - a cover for them to consolidate and plan what we are now seeing,” he said.
“The US seems to have been torn between understanding the ceasefire was a mirage, establishing a Plan B in the event of its failure, and on the other hand really committing to the process and going along with the pretence that the truce is in operation long after it has clearly failed. It just looks like they’ve sided with Russia by allowing them to claim the city is full of terrorists."
Mr Orton added: “The Americans have effectively signed off on Russia taking over the city.”

There is a sense of abandonment on the ground too.
“The Russians are great friends to Assad,” said the activist, Mr Abdullah. “We can’t say the same for the Americans. When we heard Mr Kerry say Aleppo was run by al-Qaeda we realised we were on our own. There are no terrorists where the government is bombing - it is a lie that everyone is agreeing to accept for the sake of the ceasefire agreement.”
With only one road out of Aleppo for those who live in the rebel-held east, residents worry that if the regime forces manage to sever that lifeline, then thousands will be besieged.
Fadi Hakim, a doctor from Aleppo, said: “This offensive will leave thousands encircled, without food and without medicine. The regime has already bombed the hospitals and its doctors so when the casualties mount up there is no one left to treat them.
“It will be a massacre, the likes of which we haven’t seen before.”

 
telegraph.co.uk
 
 
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Apr. 30, 2016 Thousands flee Aleppo under cover of darkness as Assad planes circle for final offensive
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