Aleppo is Pounded as Government Forces Press Toward City’s Historic Quarter

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Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, has for months been the staging ground for some of the country’s most intense fighting over its five-year civil war. Since the ceasefire brokered by the U.S. and Russia crumbled last week, Aleppo has been getting mowed down by government airstrikes, killing roughly 200 people, in what residents and rescue workers are calling the most severe surge in the city yet. On Tuesday, the neighborhood of Farafra–in the rebel-held eastern half of Aleppo–was captured by government forces, as the government pushes to control the entire city.

Reports from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicate the fighting has spread to the city’s historic quarter, one of the world’s oldest settlements and home to a mosque that dates back to the 8th century. The mosque, Umayyad Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage site, lost its minaret due to the fighting in 2013. The Syrian Observatory also said government airstrikes killed 11 people in the eastern half  of the city, while rebels shelled the government-held villages in the western half, Nubal and Zahraa.

The past week has seen President Bashar al-Assad’s government use, for the first time, bunker-busting bombs that obliterate buildings and collapse underground bunkers.

“Bunker-busting bombs, more suited to destroying military installations, are now destroying homes, decimating bomb shelters, crippling, maiming, killing dozens, if not hundreds,” said Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria on Sunday.

Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary-General, also condemned Assad’s use of bunker-busters: “They are demolishing ordinary people looking for any last refuge of safety,” he said. “International law is clear: The systematic use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas is a war crime.”

During that meeting, which was spearheaded by the U.S. and Britain, council members blasted Assad for committing war crimes. Russia, Syria’s main ally in the fight against the Islamic State and Syrian rebel groups, was lambasted for abetting Assad in his cruelty.

The fight is showing few signs of abating anytime soon. A Syrian military general told the Associated Press that the campaign in Aleppo, which has left thousands of residents trapped in the city with dwindling supplies of food and water, will continue until all “terrorists” are “wiped out.”

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at



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