Most of us have heard about the heart throbbing tweet made by a 7-year-old girl Bana Alabed. With that single tweet, entire world glanced upon the Aleppo, which might have lost its identity in the civil war. So what’s so interesting about this city which makes it so special?
Aleppo, a World heritage site, is the largest city in Syria and an industrial and financial centre of the country. But in the last few years, everything has changed.
I’m sure none of us would have thought that this beautiful city would be on the verge of inhabitation. This is all because of the Syria’s civil war. When other cities and towns were facing large-scale protests and violence against president Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo was sleeping peacefully. But this didn’t continue for a longer period as it became a very crucial place in July 2012.
The guerilla fighters gained access over northern Syria by instigating an offensive to depose the government forces. But the guerilla approach was not conclusive as Aleppo was roughly divided into two halves; in which east was controlled by the guerillas while the west by the government.
This deadlock was broken after mid-2106 when the Russian government backed the Syrian troops by air strikes that suspended the guerilla’s endmost route into the east and placed 250,000 people under beleaguerment.
Before understanding the current condition of Aleppo lets focus on some of the key facts that are related to this beautiful city.
Since 20th century BC Aleppo or “HALAB” is the world’s oldest recurrently colonised city.During the Hellenistic period, it became a significant city and a pivotal trading post for the merchants who were advancing between the Mediterranean and the lands to the east.
Arab Muslim troops annihilate Aleppo in 636 AD and the grand mosque of Aleppo was built during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Suleiman.
Aleppo then became the capital of the northern Syrian Hamdanid dynasty, but soon it agonises a phase of war and disorder, as the Byzantine Empire, Crusaders, Fatimids and Seljuks battled to achieve control of it and the surrounding terrain. This chapter continued until the mid of the 12th century. Then came the regime of Ayyubid in which the city flourished and expanded greatly.
But soon the happiness of the people of Aleppo came to an end when it was conquered by the Mongols in 1260. Soon eruption of plague took place in the year 1348 which was followed by a catastrophic attack by Timur in 1400.
Aleppo was no more a movement centre for trade in the late 18th century and was obstructed by France and Great Britain.
After the independence of Syria, it developed into a vital industrial centre, emulating the capital Damascus, and its population hiked from 300,000 to about 2.3 million in 2005.
COMBAT OF ATTRITION
The anti-government dissent exploded across Syria in March 2011 and the authorities made sure that the dissent does not hit the city of Aleppo. But soon Aleppo was in the middle of war.
The first attack on the city was bomb attack when 2 bombs shook the city by destroying military intelligence and police compounds leaving 28 people dead. This attack took place in February 2012.
Soon after these attacks encounters between guerrillas and the government started taking place in areas adjacent to Aleppo province.
By mid-July 2012 the guerrillas made an instant gain, capturing several pro-opposition districts in the north-east, south and west. By the end of the month, the brawl escalated and expanded to the historic city centre.
Within months the battle for Aleppo became a combat of attrition and the historic city became a key battleground.
By the end of 2013, the government forces have executed a fatal aerial campaign in Aleppo using barrel bombs. Also, the guerilla forces have been immovable due to the infighting between Islamic State and other jihadist groups.
Russia in support of President Assad, launched air strikes that made life in guerrilla-held Aleppo more difficult. These interventions helped the government to advance on several fronts.
One of the major blows to the guerrillas was when the government took over the Nubul and Zahraa villages, which were situated north of Aleppo, thus cutting the main supply route from turkey into the rebel captured east.Another blow was when the government broke off the Castello road, which was a major highway that runs into eastern Aleppo, thus saving 275,000 people of that area.On 22 September government started aerial bombardment that mainly includes bunker busting, incendiary and cluster munitions.
During the mid- October a pause was declared by the government to let the civilians and the guerrillas to leave the east, but most of the people refused the offer and stayed there itself.
After this announcement, the government resumed their air manoeuvres and the troops paced their ground activities. And by the end of November, the government had propelled into assorted northern districts, prompting thousands of people fled their homes. As we all know the combat of attrition is over but the struggle for the future of Syria will pursue.
After reading this article we all must think what we have gained from this war. NOTHING!
But the loss certainly encompasses our thoughts. The people, the lives, the livelihood and the most affected of all, are the children. The city that was once known as a world heritage site is now known for its empty and broken houses.
“It takes 400 years for a city to thrive but just only 4 years to reach the mark of destruction”