Tens of Palestinian children in the besieged Gaza Strip Wednesday protested in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in solidarity with the people of eastern Aleppo who have faced government bombardment and massacres since forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a devastating military offensive to retake the rebel-held area in Syria.
“From Palestinian children to Aleppo, stop the bleeding,” one sign read at the protest, while another read “Aleppo is in our hearts.”
A 10-year-old Palestinian child spoke on behalf of the other demonstrators during the event, and called upon Arab countries to intervene to “stop the slaughter of innocent people in Aleppo.”
The Syrian government offensive in eastern Aleppo has sparked international outcry, with residents live streaming and posting developments on social media, most of whom expressing their fears of a widespread slaughter of residents carried out by Assad’s forces and saying their final goodbyes.
The UN said Tuesday that the organization had received reports that scores of civilians were being executed by pro-government forces, calling the situation a “complete meltdown of humanity,” and adding that at least 82 residents have been killed during the onslaught, including 11 women and 13 children.
The UN also said on Tuesday that “dozens of bodies reportedly litter the streets of a number of east Aleppo neighbourhoods, with residents unable to retrieve them due to the intense bombardment and fear of being shot,” and added that “government forces and their allies are also reportedly entering civilian homes and killing people.”
As of Tuesday, the Syrian army had taken over much of eastern Aleppo, leaving only five percent in the opposition’s control. Additionally on Tuesday, it was announced that a ceasefire agreement would be implemented between pro-government forces and rebels to allow for the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians still trapped in the opposition-controlled areas.
However, the ceasefire agreement quickly fell apart as shelling by government forces on remaining rebel-controlled areas renewed on Wednesday, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein said that the move was “most likely a war crime.”
As reports continued to stream in of residents being killed due to “intense bombardment,” and “summary executions by pro-government forces,” the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said on Tuesday that “we have collectively failed the people of Syria […] History will not easily absolve us, but this failure compels us to do even more to offer the people of Aleppo our solidarity at this moment.”
“We have seen shocking videos of a body burning in the street, ostensibly after aerial bombardment, [the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] has received reports of civilians, including women and children, in four neighbourhoods being rounded up and executed,” he said.
Meanwhile, al-Hussein pleaded on Tuesday for international communities to “heed the cries” of those being massacred in Aleppo, saying that “the crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict.”
“What can happen next, if the international community continues to collectively wring its hands, can be much more dangerous,” he added.
Eastern Aleppo became a stronghold for government opposition forces in 2012, separated from the government-controlled West after the Syrian war broke out five years ago. However, a government-imposed siege of eastern
Aleppo drove the residents into a humanitarian crisis as the area was blockaded from the outside world and crippled by relentless pro-government aerial bombardment that has left scores of civilians killed.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed as a result of the brutal conflict, while an estimated 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, representing at least half of the pre-war population.[Source: Ma’an News]