The civil war in Syria enters what appears to be its bloody end game as Syrian government forces re-establish control over the city of Aleppo. As of late Tuesday, a ceasefire and evacuation agreement was reached allowing civilians from affected areas of Aleppo safe passage to the countryside. However, by Wednesday it evaporated with renewed airstrikes and artillery attacks as the fighting continued.
According to the reports from journalists within the besieged city, Aleppo has been all but obliterated. Mohammed Abu, the head of the eastern Aleppo forensic authority stated in an interview with AP last Wednesday, “Aleppo is finished. There is nothing left except a few residents and bricks.” As the days progressed, the killing and bloodletting continued with government forces taking control of most of the city by Tuesday.
Reports by the Associated Press have stated that residents and anti-government activists have said the pro-Assad forces have started to carry out executions of perceived rebels in the streets of Aleppo, including women and children. Nearly 100 civilians have been killed inside their homes or on the streets of the city.
These are just the latest in a long series of tragic and ruthless reprisals committed by both sides in this ongoing horror show that is the Syrian civil war. As with all conflicts, it is always the civilians, caught in the middle with nowhere to flee, who receive the worst of it. One report on CNN cites a trending hashtag which translates as “Aleppo is being destroyed by the silence of Arabs and the entire world.”
As the world watches, a quiet shame befalls us all, as its efforts to assist the rebels in their struggle to cast off the shackles of the Russian-backed Assad regime have all but failed. Since 2015, Russia has assisted the Syrian government in their effort to annihilate the rebels, while the US and other nations, including many in the region, have supported the rebels. Over the course of the past five years, despite several resolutions put forth by the UN, the civil war has raged on, in a sort of proxy war between the US and Russia not seen since the days of the Cold War. As the US tries to stave off getting mired in another desert conflict, Russia has used this aversion to their advantage with effective results. That said, where are the mighty Arab nations when their people need them, such nations such as Saudi Arabia?
Entangled in the ongoing war in Yemen fighting Iranian-backed rebels pouring across their borders, Saudi Arabia finds itself in a costly endeavor even as its economy struggles under the weight of cheap oil and changing appetites for their number one export, outside of terrorism. Still more concerning to them is a protracted war with Russia over Saudis’ support of the anti-Assad rebels. “At all levels in Saudi society, including the royal family itself, there is serious concern about our involvement in all these foreign conflicts,” said one Saudi in a report by the Washington Post. Welcome to the club, Saudi Arabia, we’ve been neck-deep in your regional conflicts for decades.
As the Saudis watch and ponder, the innocents caught in the middle continue to die in what is shaping to be some genocidal cleansing by the Assad loyalists. The silence from the region is truly deafening.
As the thousands of Syrian civilians stand peering out into the abyss, the inept UN Security Council stands by with their hands in their pockets. The UN and the Arab world will be judged by the inactions of those capable of action, as blood flows through Aleppo like a river. To quote Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Featured image courtesy of Wired.