The bombings aim to annihilate the rebels and discourage the population. “These are the hardest strikes of the past five years,” said a doctor still there.
By Benjamin Barthe (Beirut correspondent)
Bombing circle starve . For months, years, without discontinue . Until the enemy, exhausted, decided to down weapons and evacuate the area he defended. This is the strategy pursued by the Syrian regime since 2011 mater anti-Assad uprising. A choking war, slow and cruel, which agrees well with the army loyalist militias patchwork and regular units, with limited offensive capabilities.
The technique, with hints medieval, just bring fruit in two rebel pockets, besieged for several years: the city of Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, devoid of population in late August, and the district of al-Waer, on the outskirts of Homs, whose fighters are being evacuated. Aleppo East, the stronghold of the insurgents in the north of Syria a far larger and more populated area (250 000), could, tired of war, finish by raise also the white flag? It is betting that make Damascus, Tehran and Moscow, the three allies since the collapse on September 19, the truce painfully negotiated by the United States and Russia submit its inhabitants in the bombing of unprecedented ferocity.
“These are the hardest strikes of the past five years, says Dr. Hamza al-Khatib, one of thirty and some practitioners still present in the eastern districts, joined on messaging WhatsApp instant. Employees bombs have a destructive capacity ever seen. “ According to Center documentation of violations, a Syrian NGO defense human rights, Aleppans 377 were killed in these air raids between 20 and 26 September civilians in the vast majority.
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The frequency of aerial attacks has declined Tuesday, September 27, day in which “only” 11 deaths were recorded, but the previous four days, no fewer than a hundred shots were falling every twenty-four hours the city, causing an average of 80 to 90 deaths. “We do not dare move from home, we do not even think of eat and anyway, it is increasingly difficult to find food at affordable prices tells Aiham Barazi, a Syrian journalist. Everything we did was expect death. “
The Russian aviation is accused of having employed, for the first time, piercing bombs, say bunker buster for destroy underground infrastructure. The charge is based on photos of craters half a dozen meters deep, found in several places in the city, and on testimonies of local residents, speaking of “earthquake” which brought down the buildings around you type. According to the UN special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, the employment this weapon in such a populated area, as well as the use, already proven in fire bombs and submunitions could constitute a “war crime” .
“We dare not leave home, you will even think to eat. Everything we did was wait for death, “said Aiham Barazi, a Syrian journalist
These sophisticated weapons are partly military targets. The brigade Tajamu Fustakim, one of the main armed groups in Aleppo affiliated to Arm Free Syrian ed (ASL), the moderate wing of the rebellion, lost in the bombings of recent days his canteen, its food supplies and fuel and part of his arsenal, which were buried under the ground. “We are of course affected by these losses, recognizes anonymously a brigade commander deployed on the front of Salahedin, south of the city. My men have not eaten bread for three days. Instead of do operate the generator ten hours a day, we simply two hours. “
The Russian-Syrian blitz also persists on the southern districts, as Seif al-Daula and Soukari, which are among the most populous. It could be a way to scare these people, as a prelude to a land breakthrough. Tuesday, loyalist forces have also seized a small area, Farafirah at the foot of the citadel. But few observers believe in an imminent ground offensive wingspan. The regime has neither the resources nor the expertise required for such an operation and it is unlikely that its Shiite allies, Iranian or Lebanese are ready to sacrifice their men in street fights necessarily very deadly .
strategy of scorched earth
For now, most of the Russian-Syrian strategy is to break civilian infrastructure Aleppo East. The emergency room of the Omar Ben Abdelaziz hospital, built underground, for example, was destroyed in a recent bombing, perhaps led by anti-bunker weapons. Friday, two of the four barracks White Helmets, in charge of first aid, had been sprayed. The water extraction station of Bab Al-Nayrab was also shutdown, depriving running water a quarter of insurgent neighborhoods.
“The objective of this offensive is the scorched earth break population resilience capacity says a UN source. Hospitals are so overwhelmed that doctors conduct a recycling backwards. They do not treat the minor injuries because they know that serious injuries can not be saved. Humanitarian will be the key issue. ready agonize for months or will they prefer Are Aleppans leave city, if they are given the opportunity? “
The Assad regime likes to bait opponents. Many residents of the neighborhoods received messages, SMS or on social networks promising to save their life “if they raise the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic on the roof of their building “ or ” if they make it to the airport “southeast of the city, held by pro-government forces. Promises that people generally treat with contempt and suspicion. In July, very few of them had chosen to use humanitarian corridors, momentarily opened by the Russian army. “Aleppo is too symbolic to fall as Daraya or Al-Waer predicted Assaad Al-Achi, the head of the NGO Baytna Syria, based in Turkey . She will fight to the end, whatever the cost. “