Civil defence workers search the rubble of a collapsed building in Salaheddin, Aleppo, Syria, February 2, 2019 (George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty)
At least 11 people, including four children, have died in a building collapse in Syria’s Aleppo city, as civilians face mounting shortages in regime-held areas.
The five-story block of flats collapsed on Saturday in the neighborhood of Salaheddin, controlled by the opposition until eastern Aleppo city fell to the regime in December 2016. One child was pulled out alive from the rubble.
Salaheddin, near the frontline of fighting, was heavily bombed by regime and Russian warplanes. Many buildings have not been repaired, with the regime carrying out little reconstruction in the area.
The cost of reconstruction after 94 months of conflict is estimated at more than $400 billion. The Assad regime is seeking aid from its essential allies Iran and Russia, but has struggled for finance with both Tehran and Moscow facing their own economic difficulties.
Most of the international community has ruled out assistance to the regime until there is significant political reform, including a transition in which Bashar al-Assad steps aside.
Civilians are struggling with shortages of basic supplies and utilities in regime-held areas. There are long queues for gas canisters for heating and cooking, with many people going away empty-handed. Complaints are circulating that officials and pro-Assad militia are taking away the bulk of the limited supply before any distribution to residents.
There are lengthy outages of electricity. Milk, bread, and other items are said to be in short supply. Businesses are closing in the industrial city of al-Sheikh Najjar, northeast of Aleppo. Taxes and fines, imposed by the security services and militia at military checkpoints, are further escalating prices.
Discontent was spurred earlier this month by the death of an infant in the winter cold, with his father saying he could not obtain gas for cooking and warmth.
The regime and its supporters are blaming US-led sanctions for the difficulties. Officials and supportive clerics are warning anyone who criticizes the Assad regime for the shortages.