Bombed buildings, deserted streets: RT travels to war-torn Aleppo from Damascus (EXCLUSIVE)
The fighting in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo has intensified over the past fortnight. Despite that, RT’s Lizzie Phelan set out to see what’s changed in the country’s biggest city, wracked by violence, deprivation and fear.
The correspondent spent about ten hours on the road.
“We’re almost there, alive, with all of our limbs in place,” she says to the camera from the front seat of the car, while buildings of what can only be described as a ghost town can be seen through the windshield.
For Phelan, it’s already her third time this year in Aleppo. A few months ago, she visited Sheikh Maqsoud, a city district. At the time, the opposition fired from another area, al-Sakan al-Shababi, into Sheikh Maqsoud.
Now she finds herself in al-Sakan al-Shababi, with the district under the control of the government forces.
There is a checkpoint of the Kurdish group YPG in the neighborhood, which Phelan says “shows the cooperation between the Kurds and the government in Aleppo.”
Next, Phelan approaches a road that is “the northernmost gate in and out of Aleppo,” leading to Turkey. At the moment it’s controlled by the Syrian army.
However, just a few weeks ago, opposition forces were depending on that road to get supplies from across the Turkish border.
“Rebels positioned themselves in the south of the city, and the government has been carrying out strikes and artillery attack to cut off their supply routes,” Phelan said. This is a recent development, after the rebels had lost several areas and a supply route in the north. There are also other areas in Aleppo they control.
Her report comes as a couple of weeks after Russia and Syria began a large-scale operation to open special exit corridors for civilians and those ready to lay down their arms.
Also, on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry supported a proposal from the UN Syria envoy to conduct 48-hour weekly ceasefires to deliver humanitarian relief to Aleppo residents. The first truce could be held next week.
However, the plight of the locals remains dire, and experts doubt that the end to that is anywhere in sight.
“With the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Aleppo, any kind of humanitarian pause and ceasefire would give a bit of time for the population which has been suffering not only during the past weeks, but also for four years, [and this effort] is more than welcome. However, our main concern is that as long as there is no consent within the parties which are fighting on the ground in Aleppo, as long as this ceasefire is implemented without the consent from the parties, I’m afraid we can do nothing,” Ingy Sedky from the International Committee of the Red Cross told RT.