The Siege of Aleppo And Why We Need to Retire the Phrase “Never Again”

Sabra and Shatila, Srebrenica, Grozny, Gaza City, Fallujah and now Aleppo. Another location is added to the list of areas that have suffered immeasurable suffering, played out in full vision of the international community, who true to form, offered up only hollow words. When Bashar’s father leveled the Syrian city of Hama in 1982, in response to an uprising that began in the city, the world’s media could only report from a distance, transmitting bits and pieces of truth, rumour and falsehood. Whenever we were told of the crime he committed against the city, where estimates of the dead go as painfully high as 40,000, we told ourselves “how different it would have been if the world knew”. Perhaps more significantly, we massaged our sense of righteousness by telling ourselves, “how different it would have been if we knew”. The conflict in Syria is now approaching it’s 6th year, and while it would be impossible to know the full details of all the heinous crimes that have been committed during it’s time, we certainly know more than enough to understand the nature and the scale of what is going on.

The nefarious siege of Aleppo is finally coming to an end. What is hideous as the root, shall be hideous in its fruit, with the ending of the siege, and the collapse of opposition held areas, bringing with it numerous reports of summary executions of men, women and children, gunned down in the streets as they ran for their lives. The “luckier” men, who were not murdered, have been rounded up and are being held to be conscripted to the army; being forced to fight for an army that has besieged you in your home, and murdered some of your family, is a cruel twist, to a bleak plot, dark enough for Dante’s Inferno. Even more gut wrenching are the numerous reports of women having taken their own lives in the face of the government soldier’s advance, as not to be raped.

Bilal Abdul Kareem, the American journalist from On The Ground News has been posting from Aleppo throughout the last few months, showing the world what was playing out in the once flourishing city. What might have been his final message to the world captured the frustrations he had at the impotence of the so-called “Muslim World” in assisting rebel-held Aleppo. Activist Salah Ashkar pleaded with anyone who would listen to her video message to go to embassy and make our voices heard, in an effort to lift the siege. At one point it seemed like all residents in Eastern Aleppo would be captured, however a last minute deal was brokered that seen the very last pockets of resistance being evacuated, in a deal that was allegedly brokered by Turkey.

In 2011 the people of Syria rose up demanding dignity. The early protestors were not even demanding regime change; they were simply demanding respect and rights. For this act of brave defiance, they were gunned down daily by a regime that well and truly seen itself as being above any law. Five and a half years on, with half a million dead, more than 11 million having been forced from their homes, and as many as 3million people injured, the conflict rages on. This dream quickly became a nightmare, with the fall of Aleppo being another dire chapter in this tragedy. When you have one side in a conflict backed to the hilt by a superpower, justice will not prevail. Just ask the Palestinians about that. And this will not be the last dark chapter in the Syrian conflict. So spare me your “never agains”.

Written by Tamim Mobayed

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Tamim is a 28 year old Dublin born Syrian who grew up in Belfast. He is working in the Media and studying for a Ph.D. in Psychology, part-time. He's a big fan of Liverpool Football Club and cats.