Aleppo, the epicenter of one of the world’s most dire humanitarian crises, went under ceasefire earlier this week, which has been extended another 24 hours by the Russian military as of today. The “humanitarian pause,” declared unilaterally by Putin, means that no airstrikes will be carried out through 7 pm local time on Saturday. It allows Syrian civilians to escape the besieged areas of the city through a number of humanitarian corridors that have been opened—the same Syrian civilians whom Donald Trump called “ISIS-aligned” in Wednesday night’s final debate.
In the meantime, we reflect on the number of critical points Gary Johnson, Donald Trump and many others don’t seem to understand about Aleppo, which the United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, has just recently described as a “slaughterhouse.”
A staggering 4.8 million Syrians are refugees and 6.5 million have been displaced within Syria; half of those affected are children. These children do not all bear responsibility for the bombs or bullets, and most are too young to know what ISIS even is.
1. While the ceasefire opens escape routes for the civilians who will attempt to make it out alive, militants have used this opportunity to prepare the launch of a new offensive, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. More than 1,200 militants equipped with tanks, armored vehicles and portable heavy machine guns, as well as some 30 suicide bombers, have amassed for an attack on Aleppo from the southwest. It’s sort of a place to which we should pay some attention.
2. Russia has emerged as a leading international actor in the conflict that is continuing well beyond its fifth year. Russia’s campaign in Syria has killed no less than 2,704 civilians, including 746 children and 51 women, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. So, knowing what Aleppo is and understanding the depths of Russia’s involvement in it is something we maybe don’t want to dismiss, forget or consider “good leadership.”
3. Physicians for Human Rights identified 382 attacks on hospitals in Syria since the war started, at least 16 of which have been carried out by Russian forces. Forces loyal to the Syrian government are carrying out systematic attacks against local hospitals in besieged areas of eastern Aleppo with barrel and cluster bombs and rockets. They are maiming and killing hundreds of physicians and children, who are certainly not all “ISIS-aligned” individuals, but victims of war.
4. A staggering 4.8 million Syrians are refugees and 6.5 million have been displaced within Syria; half of those affected are children. These children do not all bear responsibility for the bombs or bullets, and most are too young to know what ISIS even is. The number of child refugees and asylum seekers around the world stands at about 11 million; Syrian children make up a disproportionate and growing share of those who’ve fled their homeland. Not knowing that their homeland even exists is definitely an issue.
5. Syria is one of the world’s most dangerous zones for aid workers. Aid groups and international convoys in Aleppo and surrounding cities are increasingly under fire from both government forces and rebels alike. Air strikes on convoys, attacks on trucks delivering humanitarian aid and bunker bombs are killing people who are only there to help, as well. Assuming that Aleppo must be an acronym, as Gary Johnson did, disregards not only the civilians dying there, but also the unrelenting international aid the UN has deployed since the onset of conflict.
Hope you’re reading, Gary!