Syria Daily: The Devastation of East Aleppo and Its People

PHOTO: A man carries an injured woman on his back through the rubble of eastern Aleppo city



Audio Analysis: The Crushing of East Aleppo

UPDATE 2025 GMT: The White Helmets post an update on today’s attacks and deaths:

UPDATE 1915 GMT: A local source is supporting claims that the Kurdish YPG militia is transferring men above the age of 18 to regime authorities.

Salih Muslim, the head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) said on Monday that 6,000 to 12,000 civilians had fled into the mainly-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud district of eastern Aleppo city. In addition, the YPG took control of two adjacent neighborhoods, al-Halek and Bustan al-Basha, when rebel forces withdrew.

UPDATE 1445 GMT: The White Helmets civil defense organization says Russian-regime airstrikes on the Bab al-Neyrab area of eastern Aleppo city have killed civilians fleeing areas of ground fighting.

The report said 25 people were killed and dozens injured.

Journalist Rami Jarrah posts a copy of one of the leaflets dropped by regime warplanes, warning residents:

This is the last hope….Save yourselves. If you don’t leave these areas quickly you will be annihilated.
We have left passage ways open for your leave.

Quickly make a decision….Save yourselves. You know that everyone has left you alone to face your doom and have offered you no help.

UPDATE 1020 GMT: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called for an immediate UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Aleppo.

“More than ever before, we need to urgently put in place means to end the hostilities and to allow humanitarian aid to get through unhindered,” Ayrault said in a statement.

A French diplomatic source said Ayrault and Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier will discuss Aleppo today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of a meeting about Ukraine in Minsk.

UPDATE 0850 GMT: The pro-opposition Local Coordination Committees documented 91 deaths on Monday across Syria, including 45 in Aleppo Province.

Most of the deaths in Aleppo were from bombing of the districts of Salhin and Shaar in eastern Aleppo city.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: As a pro-Assad offensive moves into parts of eastern Aleppo city, held by the opposition since July 2012, witnesses are testifying to destruction and fears of the Russian-regime siege, bombing, and ground attacks.

Since Saturday, the pro-Assad offensive — Iranian troops, Hezbollah, Iraqi and Palestinian militia, and Syrian army and paramilitary units, supported by Russian airstrikes — has taken the northern part of eastern Aleppo, about one-third of the territory held by the opposition. The advance follows bombing since mid-September that has killed more than 1,000 people, the destruction of almost all medical facilities, and a siege since late August that has almost exhausted food and vital supplies.

One resident, Bashir Saleh, said:

For one month they have been attacking Masakan Hanano [whose fall on Saturday began the pro-Assad advance] with airstrikes and artillery. When the advance happened, there were a lot of rebels outside of the area because the shelling and bombing was so huge last month. The truth is we were shocked at the weakness of the rebels’ defensive positions. They were directly destroyed.

Rebels spoke of foreign fighters leading the advance, with the Syrian army and militia moving afterwards into the districts.

“When the militias advanced there was a mix of Palestinians, Iraqis, Iranian and Hezbollah,” said Najeed, a fighter from Masakan Hanano.
Another fighter, Imad, said:

There were not enough of us to stop the advance of the attack. On the radio we heard their accents, [mainly] Iraqi. I’m sure the people in the advance were from militia but not Syrian army, but then the Syrian army came later and the media came with them.

An estimated 270,000 civilians were in the area. While thousands have reportedly left the area of fighting, the killing of others continues.

A resident said:

All the people are in the streets. There is no home for them. The airstrikes are everywhere, every minute they are burning Aleppo. There is no road to let the civilians leave. Many people prefer to die than to go to the regime side. They said we will die here, and not go to the regime; we won’t give our women to the regime. We will not give our honor to them either.

Hamza Abduljabbar, a father of three, echoed:

The rebels have failed to break the siege and are losing territory, and the international community has failed to send in supplies or aid. My family and I are surviving day to day here under the barrel bombs and the planes. There’s nowhere else to go.

The White Helmets civil defense service said in a statement that they can no longer reach the dead and wounded in the rubble. They said two of their four centers have been destroyed and that they have no more fuel beyond that left in vehicles.

The statement said that, since November 15, there had been more than 2000 air raids and 7000 shellings of eastern Aleppo.

Other witnesses spoke of fears that men were being seized by the advancing pro-Assad forces. Mohamed al-Ahmed, who lives in Aleppo’s Old City, said:

We are so scared. We do not know what we will do. I have a cousin living in Masakan Hanano, and the information I have is that they took 400 people yesterday from that area to the airport, including him. We have no information about them.

Another man, who withheld his name, explained: “We were living under opposition control for more than four years and of course many of us became involved with the opposition. Now the army is so close, of course they have information about us.”

A third man, in the Bustan al-Qasr district, said no one could leave and few would dare to exit to regime-held areas even if they could:

My brother and uncle were killed at the checkpoints in early 2013. They will come for us all now. They will speak about reconciliation and fraternity and they will kill without conscience at the same time. And the world will watch on helplessly, just as it has for the past year.

A flashback to a mass rally in Masaken Hanano in 2012:

“No Flour, No Bread, No Medicine”

Meanwhile, those remaining in east Aleppo are facing not only the bombing but also lack of food. Samah al-Ahmad, a mother of four in the al-Ansari area, explained:

There’s no flour, no bread. Most of the bakeries have been destroyed and those that still stand are closed because there aren’t any supplies.

Ahmad says she only leaves her home to scavenge for basics such as sugar and powdered milk: “The latest bombing has been particularly cruel. There is no safe place here any more.”

Her husband, injured in an air strike last month, is bedridden. “I can’t go to the hospital to get medicine because most have been destroyed….Those that still function lack some of the most basic medicines,” she says.

Regime and Kurdish Flags Beside Each Other in Aleppo

Kurdish forces have also benefitted from the pro-Assad offensive, moving into two areas as rebels withdrew.

The Kurdish militia YPG and rebels have long fought in and near the mainly-Kurdish district of Sheikh Maqsoud.

On Monday, the Assad regime flag was raised alongside a Kurdish banner for the first time in Aleppo — the picture is from Bustan al-Basha, which the YPG occupied earlier in the day.


Salih Muslim, the co-chair of the YPG’s political leadership PYD, said 6,000 to 12,000 civilians have fled into Sheikh Maqsoud.

7-Year-Old Bana: “I Don’t Want to Die”

Seven-year-old Bana al-Abed, whose Twitter account — run by her mother Fatemah — has become a prominent first-hand account of the situation in east Aleppo, tweeted on Monday:

The al-Abed home was damaged by an airstrike on Sunday. soon after Fatemah al-Abed wrote: “When we die, keep talking for 200,000 still inside. BYE.”

A message in Bana’s name then reported the attack on the family home:

Reports: Islamic State Abduct 2 Turkish Soldiers

Reports indicate that the Islmaic State kidnapped two Turkish soldiers in northern Syria.

The Turkish military confirmed that it lost contact with two personnel at about 3:30 pm. It said searches are ongoing.

Opposition Coalition: Kurdish Police Kidnapped Member of Our Political Committee

The opposition Syrian National Coalition claims that Kurdish police kidnapped Hawass Khalil, a member of the Coalition’s political committee and of the Kurdish National Council.

A Coalition statement said Khalil was seized in his home in the village of Karki in Hasakah province and taken to an unknown destination. It called for the release of Khalil and all detainees in the prisons of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD).

Removal of People Begins from Besieged Khan al-Shih, Southwest of Damascus

Hundreds of people have been removed from the town of Khan al-Shih, southwest of Damascus, in the latest capitulation to siege and bombardment.

Witnesses said 10 buses left the town, where a large Palestinian camp is located, for opposition-held Idlib Province. Under the deal with the regime, about 1,450 rebels and 1,400 relatives are due to depart.

About 12,000 people have been besieged and bombarded for months. After capitulations since August in other towns, Khan al-Shih was the last opposition-held town on a major supply route between Damascus and Quneitra Province in southwest Syria.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


      • Not me.You must have me confused with another person.I could switch sides,and back the rebels for fun though.Will wait and see how things pan out.Claims of more losses for rebels in East Ghouta,some place called Maidaini or something like that.

  1. It is depressing to see the rebels getting rolled back. And there is no word from them as to what they are doing or planning to do. Have they just exhausted themselves? Or have they made a strategic decision to let Aleppo go.

    It would not be a bad decision to pull back and give up on east Aleppo. The regime and its allies have a huge concentration of power there. It might be the greatest concentration of forces anywhere in Syria. Insurgency doctrine says to avoid fighting where your adversary is strongest. The only reason the rebels are in Aleppo at all is because they gambled in mid-2012 on a quick regime collapse. That gambit failed, but thereafter, regime was unable dislodge the rebels. So Aleppo became an accidental battlefield. Arguably, once the Russians and Iranians intervened and bolstered Aleppo with substantial forces, the rebels should have followed the insurgency playbook and pulled out, hitting the regime in weaker spots throughout Syria. So perhaps that process is what is taking place now, belatedly and at much greater cost.

    • Best stock up on Zanax then, because:
      As Yankis, Sauds and Turks increasingly withdraw support,
      distraught JI-Joe fanbois declare ‘the revolution is dead’:
      In fact, the Saud Suck-Holes are already greeting Putin’s Sunni Wonderboy, who promised only to personally throttle their JI-Joes with his bare hands:
      And even the Europeón NeoCons, usually slowest in the uptake, are, in the face of current implacable realities, rapidly ditching their fevered régime-change dreams:
      There is no longer any real hope of deposing Assad.
      while Trump [may even] cut a deal with Putin that involves working with Assad, [he] has [certainly] made clear that he won’t militarily back the opposition.
      Turkey, for its part, is now more invested in securing control of a strip of territory in northern Syria as part of an anti-Kurdish and anti-ISIS drive that has already seen it divert significant rebel resources away from the Aleppo front. To the backdrop of the recent failed coup attempt, an increasingly stretched Ankara has shown little appetite for a wider push against Assad, nor a new confrontation with Russia given the recent patching up of a relationship that is so economically important.
      Riyadh, meanwhile, remains consumed by the Yemen conflict, a struggle of far greater strategic importance to the Kingdom, as well as internal challenges including a much-needed economic reform programme. Over recent months the Kingdom has slowly but surely disengaged from the Syria conflict, and while it could reassert itself, it is hard to imagine a meaningful commitment of strength given the competing pressures it faces
      So, let’s face it, NATO Comrades, you’ve had some fun but now it’s ‘Game Over‘:

      • Aww, the little genocidal Assad fanbois are so precious. They think it’s over. See you in a couple years when bombs are still going off in Syria. As for the infrastructure, it should be paid for by the tyrant and his fat cat friends in Moscow and Tehran, whom can’t seem to stop committing actual war crimes as opposed to those dreamt up in the head of a marxist. I mean it’s only right considering the bloody dictator started this whole thing by releasing his jackbooted thugs upon peaceful protesters.

        • See you in a couple years when bombs are still going off in Syria.

          You mean like they are in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan? ROFLA

          As for the infrastructure, it should be paid for by the tyrant and his fat cat friends in Moscow and Tehran, whom can’t seem to stop committing actual war crimes as opposed to those dreamt up in the head of a marxist.

          It might well end up being the Saudis who pitch in given they are sucking up to Russia.

          I mean it’s only right considering the bloody dictator started this whole thing by releasing his jackbooted thugs upon peaceful protesters.

          Yeah right. It started long before those so called peaceful protests which somehow managed to kill 90 police officers

          It’s really hard to take you seriously when you accuse everyone of committing war crimes EXCEPT those who are committing actual, documented war crimes.

          LOL indeed.

      • It’s really hard to take you seriously when you accuse everyone of committing war crimes EXCEPT those who are committing actual, documented war crimes. LOL. Completely blinded by your failed ideology.

  2. Al Hayat newspaper has an article this morning claiming that someone launched airstrikes on the Syrian government-held towns of Nubl and Zahra, in addition to an apparent attack on an Iranian military compound. It would appear that they’re insinuating that Turkey was behind the airstrikes. The Arab news channels (Arabiya TV, I believe) quoted Russia as denying that it was behind the strikes (and it wouldn’t be in their interest to do so, either). have you seen any other info on the story?

    • Edward,

      Please see Monday’s Daily. There is confusion over this, as pro-Assad outlets initially pointed to Turks (who have never operated in the area before) but then said Russia carried out the strikes.

      Subsequently a photograph came out purporting to be of one of the Russian-made cluster bombs in the operation. If the image is authentic, then our working explanation at this point is Russian error — but one helluva error, given Zahra’s distance from current frontline and opposition areas.

  3. No pasarán! — Tayyip’s Pets are being cut off at the doorstep to Al-Bab by joint SAA/SDF forces, another beneficial result of the tireless Russian reconciliation efforts:
    After its recent taste of PGMs in the face, the fearless Turkish Army has retreated to a safe distance, leaving its dumb proxy cannon-fodder to take the punishment.
    Apparently Tayyip’s grandiloquent mouth ran a little bit ahead of his brain [not the first time] and he’s had to be punched back in his box. In any case his Nusra Nature Reserve will not be allowed to threaten the liberation of Aleppo City.

    • I don’t get why the Southern Front FSA don’t come to some sort of aggreement with Israel? At least get something (e.g.future cooperation against Hezbollah, getting AIPAC to pressure White House into leaning on the Jordanian MOC, intell on regime movements etc) for attacking Daeesh.

      • I can think of several reasons for that.
        1. You’re assuming the people in control are desperate to undertake major actions against Assad. I don’t think that’s the case. Being a warlord is probably pretty cozy.
        2. Allying with Israel doesn’t exactly sit well in that region, and SF’s image is tarnished enough as it is. Sure, you’ll find people amenable to the idea, but it didn’t strike me as a widely held attitude, even among rebels.
        3. From Israel’s perspective, I’d say the benefits of cooperating with an inept coalition that largely exists only on paper are too limited to warrant a deeper involvement in the war.

      • It is a lose-lose for Israel at this stage of the game. Even if the rebels manage to achieve some of their goals with the help of Israel, they will quickly turn around and stab Israel in the back, in order to consolidate their own domestic base. No Arab ruler ever refused to make a demon out of Israel in order to rule. And Arabs by and large believe what they are told by their leaders.

  4. #Aleppo: 1) “Assad’s men promise to loot captured areas in #Aleppo dry, “if you leave a washing machine god will not forgive you”” – AuraSalix
    This is why I say rebels should plant a (pressure-sensitive?) land-mine under every fridge/oven/washing-machine before leaving an area. Let the scoundrels crawl back without any legs.
    2) “Safwah Battalions shelled #Nayrab Airbase with Grad rockets.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    Rebels really need a spotter to see whether their strikes have hit the target.
    3) “TSK armours (ACV-15, M60T & Kirpi MRAPs) spotted on Al-Bab front.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    To think Barbar was gloated about regime troops capturing territory from rebels, I wonder does he really think the SAA post-2012 is a match man-for-man for a NATO-standards army without Russian help?
    4) “YPG is handing over to the regime young men +18 #Aleppo – Concerns for their lives.” –
    I hope Afrin gets invaded by the Turks one day.
    5) I hear regime fighters in Fua and Kafraya are about to break-out and launch (with a supporting offensive from regime fighters from Aleppo city?) against rebels? If so I hope there’s plenty of land-mines and concealed automatic/robotic machine-gun nests scattered around those towns. Rebels should fight this intelligently (ie they should plant IEDs, lure regime fighters towards those areas then BAAM! After which launch a counter-offensive – using motorbikes and VBIED? – so can plant land-mines in those same areas again so can repeat it again) like Fath Halab did. I suspect the offensive may come from Haider if so rebels should prepare not only a trap for those regime fighters from there (a daisy-chained IED?) but keep enough reserves to launch a counter-offensive deep into Haider or to launch a preemptive assault to capture Jabal Azaan (north-east of Haider).
    #Idlib: An interesting paper on how rebel’s administration of the local economy is fairing (real need for improvement according to this article) post-2012.
    You’d think rebels there would attempt to create some kind of war-time economy (ie an economy that after the physical needs of civilians like food/water/shelter/heating/medical service – and creating the infrastructure and personnel to ensure this – they’d start organising their resources and local labour force into armament production as well as centres for intelligence/military operations training) considering the gravity of their situation? This is what those who are facing a potential invasion would do (see below link).
    #Latakia: “Opposition halt a Regime force attempt to advance at #Khidir and #Trdin on #Kurds_Mountain.” – CombatChris1
    Good but how about pinning the regime to one area where they can neither advance towards rebels nor can escape them because on the front and the side rebels have planted concealed land-mines and camouflaged ATGM teams around them? Winter is coming and attrition can be caused on the regime just by inflicting pneumonia on them as well as an ambush.
    #DaraaL “Southern_Front Yarmouk Army blew up a building with dug in Assad regime militia killing a number of them #Manshia #Daraa” – badly_xeroxed
    Bravo. Now lets hope they take this further by not only rigging buildings at the front-line with booby-traps but that they: A) Plant land-mines and concealed automatic/robotic machine-guns near regime assembly areas. B) They plant IEDs and use TOWie teams on supply routes they don’t control. C) They infiltrate regime positions to do special-ops to both target senior regime officers as well as to track regime informants. D) Give all your assault troops motorbikes, create a team of TOWie mounted dune buggies and do your fighting (ie raids and offensives) against regime positions during night-time when the Russians jets aren’t as many as in the day.

    • #4 — What makes you think they will be without Russian help and who do you imagine slotted those precision-guided missiles into that Turkish Army command-bunker North of Al-Bab a few days ago, claiming a dozen brass and causing them to scuttle back 30km?

  5. #National: This is interesting. Apparently several attempts (angry bodyguards? CIA-bribed Republican Guards?) have been made on Assad’s life.
    #Aleppo: “Huge blast in regime-held Khadir, South Aleppo, 2 hrs ago. Lots of casualties among Assad forces.” – fuadhud
    Barbar loquacious bravado was spoke in haste it seems. As I mention to Caligola someone is carrying out these mysterious airstrikes against regime positions, the Turks wouldn’t do it to not cross the Russians so who is doing it Barbar? An irate (because it’s interfering with their detente with Ankara?) Russia or a peeved (because Assad broke the promise of not letting Aleppo fall before Obama leaves office?) US? Either answer is interesting.

    • Who are being targeted? If it’s Hezbollah or IRGC/Qods, you have your answer.The MO is that of IAF. I’ve stated previously that Hezbollah units are very exposed to conventional attack in the Syrian theater.

  6. One of the most pertinent documentary of our time: Adam Curtis’ “Hypernormalisation” documentary covers everything (ie Hybrid warfare, Assad Snr, Kissinger, Gaddafi, Trump, Putin) and explains why the Syrian conflict is what it has become and why Trump’s campaign style is so portent and why we now live in a post-truth global world.
    Definite recommend.

    • It’s interesting that Curtis draws a similarity between Kissinger’s deceptive “constructive ambiguity” diplomacy and Surkov’s (Putin’s spin-doctor) “Non-linear warfare” propaganda method.

  7. Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief November 29
    •While Turkish government still jails People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers including HDP Co-leaders, HDP deputy Hishyar Ozsoy warned that the government has replaced many prison guards with special security forces and also transferred heavy weapons to some prisons. Ozsoy said, “government may be planning to execute some repressive, even fatal policies in prisons.” The HDP lawmaker called all relevant “all international bodies and institutions to observe, meticulously research, and act upon the grave situation in Turkish prisons.”
    •Mardin Metropolitan Municipality Co-mayor Ahmet Turk (AKA veteran Kurdish Politician) has been referred to court to appear before the prosecutor. Turk had been detained on November 21 alongside other Kurdish officials by the Turkish police. Last week Bitlis Co-mayor Huseyin Olan was also taken into custody after police raided the municipality building early Thursday morning.
    •After the European Parliament (EU) urged governments to freeze EU membership, all parties in the Austrian Parliament unanimously voted to accept the implementation of the arms embargo on Turkey. The six major parties in Austria also called the European Union to impose sanctions against Turkey.
    •Raqqa liberation operation “Wrath of Euphrates” continues in its third week. Jihan Sheikh Ahmad, the spokesperson of the ‘Wrath of Euphrates,’ announced the launch of the second phase of the operation which will include the offensive from different frontline until the liberation of the city. Ahmad also announced the recruitment of one thousand men and women into the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Raqqa to take part in the second phase after receiving proper training. According to Refugees Affairs Committee of Rojava and Northern Syria administration, three thousand internally displaced people (IDP) from Hazima and Hukumiya region arrived at Ain Issa region.
    •After intense fights between Syrian regime forces and rebel groups eastern Aleppo, six thousand IDP were received by the People’s Defense Unties (YPG) in Sheikh Maqsoud which is controlled by YPG who are part of the SDF. The YPG opened a humanitarian corridor in Al Hellok and Bustan Al-Pasha to allow the families to enter the Kurdish area after they were trapped in between clashes. Extremist groups affiliated with the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) also continued to bombard Shiekh Maqsoud resulting in the death of six civilians and injury of two more. The Kurdish Red Crescent Sheikh Maqsoud have called on the United Nations and international aid organizations to provide urgent aid for families which have been displaced due to recent clashes in the east part of Aleppo.
    •Clashes continued between Manbij Military Council (MMC) and Turkish-backed Islamic groups. The clashes mostly took place in Beshemele and Cibildem The Turkish warplanes had bombarded west of Manbij on November 22 resulting in the death of two children. MMC is part of the SDF who are backed and equipped by the U.S. led coalition while the Islamic groups are backed by Turkey in operation called “Euphrates Shield.”
    •After The Kurdistan region President Masoud Barzani called the political parties to reach an agreement in regards of the Presidency and the Parliament. Five major parties welcomed the initiative. The Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) formed a committee to visit all parties to discuss the ongoing political crises and to reach an agreement.
    •In a press conference, Iraq’s Minister of Migration said that fifty-five thousand IDP had entered the Kurdistan region since the launch of Mosul operation. The minister also said that since October 17, eighty thousand people fled Mosul due to the ongoing liberation operation.
    •Iranian regime sentenced a Kurdish filmmaker 223 lashes and one year in prison for his documentary film about Graffiti in Tehran called “Writing on the City.” Keywan Karimi will be in Evin prison. 11/29/2016

  8. Rouhani urges Iran-Turkey joint efforts in Iraq, Syria
    DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for greater cooperation between regional rivals Iran and Turkey to help establish stability in Syria and Iraq.
    “Today when the region is in a critical condition, cooperation and consultation by Tehran and Ankara in resolving issues can make a difference,” Rouhani told visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
    “If major regional powers stand together, problems in Iraq and Syria will be resolved without the need for foreign powers,” Rouhani added.
    “Despite (their differences), the two countries’ officials are looking for solutions and seeking to draw closer their points of views, especially on Iraq and Syria,” IRNA earlier reported. 11/26/2016

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