The Syrian War Keeps Getting Worse for the People of Aleppo
A year ago, almost to the day, I watched a graffiti artist named Khalifa paint a huge smiley face onto a wall. The wall was pretty much all that remained of the house it had been part of, and every other house on the street was in a similarly bad state. The day before, the street had been hit by a Scud missile: That was Aleppo, Syria, in 2013.
Khalifa had sprayed a slogan next to the smiley face. It read, in Arabic, “Tomorrow this will be beautiful.”
He was wrong.
Syria: Snipers of Aleppo
Over the last six months the FSA and the battle for Aleppo has transitioned from a full-on frontline assault into a slow-paced but still deadly sniper war. Photographer and videographer Robert King recently returned to the conflict-ravaged city to meet the snipers of the FSA, interviewing them about the new challenges they face on the ground as they steadfastly peer through their scopes and pick off the enemy, one by one, day by day.
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Your hospital has been hit numerous times by Assad’s forces, is that correct?
Yes. It has been hit five times and more than 15 times around the hospital.
Do you consider these actions to be war crimes?
Yes, of course, but the Syrian regime considers medical staffs and doctors military targets.
Why do you think that is?
Because when you kill one doctor, it’s much better than killing 1,000 fighters.
Inside Aleppo, Syria’s “Stalingrad”
I am traveling with the Free Syrian Army on the front line of the al-Arqub neighborhood in Aleppo. Sniper rounds crack as the bullets zip over our heads. The acidic taste of gunpowder scares my throat and burns my waterless tear ducts. Just a half mile from the gutted and destroyed Dar al-Shifa hospital, we are traveling in an area known by the locals as Stalingrad. The reference plays on the macabre similarities between the Nazi’s relentless bombardment of the Russian city during the Second World War, and the unforgiving attacks this part of Aleppo has seen during Syria’s uprising. One group of fighters here is so conservative they refuse us the luxury of smoking a cigarette while escaping death on the hollowed streets.
The only signs of life come from atop a bleeding tree scarred and bent by bullets and shrapnel. This bleeding tree offers me a moment of solace, because the pathetic little spruce has refused to die. In defiance of war and the death that follows, this ugly thing sprung two new leaves—green specks of life on the naked branches that defy man’s destruction. This sight offers me a faint memory of what the allure of life was before this inhuman war.
Under Fire for Bread in Aleppo, Syria
Every day the men, women, and children of Aleppo, Syria, must risk their lives to stand in line and hope that they can buy a kilo of bread to survive another day. Many of the bread factories in Aleppo have been destroyed amidst fighting between the Free Syrian Army and Assad’s troops. The few that remain are staffed by brave souls who risk their lives every day to ensure the local population has basic sustenance.
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Ground Zero: Syria - Allepo Field Hospital
The atrocities and war crimes currently ripping Syria apart at the seams are evident at a field hospital in Aleppo, the country’s largest city. Inside the hospital exhausted doctors indiscriminately treat civilians, members of the Free Syrian Army, and captured Syrian Army troops alike.