‘I was playing with friends when it hit me’: Aleppo kids injured in rebel fire tell their stories
Children in government-controlled Aleppo are experiencing heavy fighting on a daily basis, as the opposition try to retake lost ground. While the Western media's focus is largely on the suffering in rebel-held areas, RT looks at the other side of the story.
RT’s Lizzie Phelan is reporting from one of only two Aleppo hospitals that are now trying to cope with the inflow of those injured in the fighting. Those seeking help include both soldiers and civilians. So many people require treatment that they are filling up the medical facilities’ corridors.
The rebels now have control of three military academies in the south and have intensified their efforts to bring more territories their under control, Phelan explains. They are trying to get access to the southern road into Aleppo, and they fire at civilian targets from there.
Many children are among those injured. Phelan has spoken with two girls badly hurt by shrapnel from missiles fired from rebel held areas in the city’s south.
“My arms, feet, knees, and face are injured,” 11-year-old Alaa said quietly, lying on the hospital bed, covered in bandages, while she added that it is her knee that hurts the most.
“We were just talking, and the next moment it was just like in a dream. Then, I started shouting and heard my parents shouting, too. And I realized that a missile had hit our home. Earlier, we had heard the missile flying overhead from an area near us. But this time it landed right in our house,” she added.
“I’m afraid. I don’t want to return home,” she told RT.
Alaa now says she wants to be a doctor to be able to help those suffering, just like her. She shares that dream with another girl in this same hospital, 12-year-old Faten, who was also wounded in the shelling.
“I was sitting on a balcony with my friends when I heard the sound of a missile coming,” Faten recalls. “The next thing I knew, my arm was broken, and there are still pieces of shrapnel in the other one. I was just playing with my friends when I heard something hit me, and then I realized soldiers were carrying me.”
The increased fighting has seen a surge in displaced people as well. RT’s correspondent visited an area, which hosts those who have been made homeless because of the conflict.
To the right, there are tents of people who were displaced three-four years ago, and still live in those makeshift shelters, Phelan pointed. To the left, live people who recently lost their homes.
The locals say that their plight has become too much to bear.
“Ten days ago, terrorists broke into 1070 apartments. I left my home with only my clothes on. The same thing happened to the neighborhood where I lived before the war broke out. I remember one day I woke up to the noise outside, and saw the heavily armed people with long beards had entered the area. I was afraid for my life, so I took my family and fled,” Aleppo resident Mohamed Khalouf said.
For some, it looks like the hard times are going to last forever.
“We’re all in the same boat here. We desperately need help. We need milk, food, and nappies for our children. The situation here is dire. I gave birth to my daughter here in the street. In three weeks, she will be one year old,” a woman, identified as Fared, told RT.
Some don’t really want to be filmed, but are eager for the world to hear about their hardship.
“We need you to hear us. We have kids born in the streets. How would they be able to go to school, to get an education? To grow up and live normal lives?”
On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry backed a proposal from the UN’s Syria envoy to carry out 48-hour weekly ceasefires to deliver humanitarian relief to Aleppo residents. The first truce could be held next week.
It comes a fortnight after Russia and Syria started a large-scale operation to open special exit corridors for civilians and those ready to lay down their arms.