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Five answers to the Questions that you all have about Aleppo

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Translated from Italian via Google Translate from VICE

Try to portray the situation in Aleppo is a difficult task for two different sets of problems.

The first is that the battle for the key cities of Syria in the war has been going on for four years or four years, during which fronts the belligerents, the fate of the civilian population have undergone radical changes and conflicts of a different kind (and more and more dramatic).

The second is that as I write is at work a propaganda war that, in the near absence of independent sources, performs admirably in its main task: misinform. The eastern part of Aleppo, where anti-regime fighters are allocated and where they lived hundreds of thousands of people, was bombed indiscriminately for these four years. The cost of which in recent months has become a real siege is very high in terms of human lives, especially of defenseless civilians. The propaganda of the regime of Bashar al-Asad called this thing a “liberation” and defines victims as “terrorists.”

Following some time what is happening in Syria and in the surrounding area, I tried to answer the questions that everyone, seeing scroll through the news of the last hours on Facebook, may have made on the situation.

WHAT IS GOING TO ALEPPO?

The siege, which resulted in the closure of all supply routes for the people of eastern Aleppo, is ending with the “victory” of the loyalist troops, assisted on the field by the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranians and the Russians in the heavens. There remain pockets of armed resistance, areas where the Russian bombings are continuing to hit and where it still remains trapped part of the civilian population, they speak of a hundred thousand people.

In recent days several sources describe mass executions of civilians and several episodes of looting, as well as sniper attacks on convoys prepared for evacuation. Other local sources report that several women have killed themselves to avoid rape.

In this context, in which several Western governments and international bodies such as the UN call for a ceasefire to allow civilians to true salvation, we are witnessing a gruesome propaganda ballet.

The hypothetical “ceasefire”, achieved through fragile agreements (in the latter case between Russia and Turkey), are revealed staged (the number of evacuated people is very low and we do not know where these people cramming) whose end it is mainly to “show the world” a willingness to save lives which, however, seems to be no. Those who, for one reason or another, remain in Aleppo east will be treated as a fighter-thus, in the terminology of the regime, a terrorist.

A humanitarian corridor, to be effective, should be put in the role of parties involved in the conflict, can not be handled by one of them: different sources in fact record the fear on the part of many civilians from falling into the hands of the loyalists who can at will decide on their fate. And the fear is understandable, given the bombing mode above.

The other fear, once “cleaned” Aleppo east from every human being, is that the original inhabitants of that part of the city may never return, that the demographic composition of the city is completely rewritten. Elsewhere, for example in one of the many “martyr cities” of Syria in recent years as Homs, the regime has burned the records of the land registry and already in 2013 the Guardian spoke, using a certain overused term, “ethnic cleansing.”

HOW WE ARRIVED AT THIS POINT?

The dynamics of the battle of Aleppo is very complex and has experienced several phases during which its outcome appeared uncertain. Aleppo was the economic capital of Syria. The protest movement against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the city, as elsewhere repressed in blood, began to make their voices heard in relative lagging behind other areas of the country (the first meager events are held at the end of April 2011, a month and a half after the start of the protests). However, it was expressed with great force, especially in the outlying areas and overcrowded city, in the wake of the strong protests that were recorded in rural areas of the province aleppina.

The “battle for Aleppo” began in July 2012 as part of a broad offensive Free Syrian Army called “Damascus volcano and earthquakes of Syria”. The rebel forces (see below for an explanation of the composition) established themselves in a wide part of the city without ever reach its heart. After the first few months of clashes, during which (we are in October 2012), also the historical center of the city suffered extensive damage, the positions of the loyalists and the rebels-with the Kurdish district that remains “neutral” -rimangono for a long time unchanged .

The clash, in the early days of combat, stabilizes on the east (rebels)-west (government) and becomes war of position. The regime is preparing a long-term strategy which is to indiscriminate bombing of areas controlled by the rebellion, with tragic consequences for the civilian population and infrastructure. From their positions the rebels return fire from the ground. Being strategically important in the broader context of the war, the battle of Aleppo have focused many of the economic and logistical efforts of all the geopolitical actors involved in the conflict.

Initially little connotations from the religious point of view, the armed rebel groups have experienced different processes of radicalization, also due to the origin of their funding (mainly Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar). Today, they count in their ranks even some jihadist groups and the initials Syrian qaidista (Jabhat al-Nusra Front, today Jabhat al-fatih al-Sham). The Islamic State group, founded in April of 2013 with the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), is absent (at the time was expelled from the area of Aleppo controlled by the rebels, as well as in the governorate of Idlib) .

The ranks of loyalists fight over the government army soldiers, irregular loyalist troops, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Iran with different formations and Russia (mainly with aviation). A turning point in the battle for Aleppo was recorded after the official entry in the Russian war, starting in September 2015. Although officially the purpose of the Russians was to defeat the Islamic State group, the Russian operations were concentrated almost all ( except the most “famous” is the city of Palmira, now back in the hands of the Islamic State) on those “rebels” areas of the country where resist armed formations do not belong to that organization, areas of geostrategic interest to the regime in Damascus and where logistical and military aid of enemy regional powers (Turkey, Gulf countries) concentrated.

Aleppo is the focus of this strategy and the real reason why today the loyalists managed to conquer it is nell’avvenuto rapprochement between Putin and Erdogan took place on the basis of common economic interests. Turkey has stopped providing aid to fighters in Aleppo, concentrating on the border which is located north of the city, an area that used to Ankara to limit the advance of Syrian Kurds of YPG which, thanks to ‘ American assistance provided to them in anti-Islamic state key, sought to join the predominantly Kurdish territories in northern Syria.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS?

The battle for Aleppo is ending in the tragic form that we know. From a military and strategic point of view this is an important victory for the loyalists, but it does not mean the end of the war nor appeasement of Aleppo. Certainly the event inaugurates a new phase, with the rebellion to the increasingly confined regime terriorialmente in Idlib province and territory control by the regime-that you will face, probably for a long time, in hotbeds of revolt and of a incremented episodes terrorist-decidedly weak.

Syria is now crossed by antagonisms that seem impossible to reconcile, whose fates are increasingly linked to the decisions, actions, funding of external actors. Waiting to see what will be the attitude of America Trump we have witnessed the aforementioned rapprochement of Turkey and Russia, which share the areas of influence in the north.

And we know that a successful outcome of the other great battle going on, that of Mosul in Iraq, inevitably make the folding of the fighters of the Islamic State in Syria, where he is currently the only ones to fight with that organization’s actual results are the Kurds of YPG that drive the “Syrian Democratic Forces”, incurred (for how much longer?) from Washington. Meanwhile in the south of the country the bowls seem firm, with the forces of the “Front South” supported by the Americans and Jordanians, kept in “pause” for months.

CHANNELS THAT CAN FOLLOW TO BE INFORMED?

From time Western journalists do not have access to the war if not, by the regime, with strong limitations (such as to “propaganda” their work). Generally all sources must seriously be put under consideration, being in place, as I said, a propaganda war.

The local independent sources on the ground have now minimized. Among the most reliable is the Aleppo Media Center.

Medical sources have almost disappeared. The “Syrian Civil Defence” (which the site collects donations) said recently about not being able to reach different areas affected by the bombings. Other “lighthouse” on the east of Aleppo, but no journalists in the field, is ANA press.

A journalist who has long provided reliable reporting on the situation in Aleppo is Rami Jarrah,  now living in Turkey.

THERE IS SOMETHING CONCRETE THAT I CAN DO?

Difficult to operate in some form to give practical help. Since the question eminently “political” in this “handbook” in English is encouraged first of all to put pressure on national politicians and the international organizations to raise the issue of responsibility and humanitarian aid.

In several European cities and in Turkey these days is manifested mainly in front of the Russian embassy, demanding an end to the bombing and the opening of humanitarian corridors true. Others invited to call the respective embassies.

Lorenzo Follow on Twitter

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