World

Syrians flee capital city of Aleppo

Courtesy of FREEDOM HOUSE
Citizens are left to dig among the wreckage after the destruction left behind by the Syrian wars. A cease-fire is currently in effect between the warring forces.

Debris coated the streets of Syria’s capital city, Aleppo, as the Syrian army’s forces broke into the once city. The battle waged in the streets, once again brought the war to the doorsteps of citizens.

The ongoing civil war started in 2011 with protests and anti-regime messages. Many citizens wanted to uproot the Assad regime for breaking promises to create a good economy and start political reform. Thus, the war began.

Six years later, and the war is still occurring. Families in Syria are fighting for normal lives, attempting to protect their families from bombings, gun fire, and a government that is falling apart. Many of these families are left to seek shelter elsewhere in neighboring countries and cities.

In 2016, the Syrian free army, those rebelling against Assad, took back the city of Aleppo from Assad’s forces, according to United Press International. At the time it seemed to be a turning point in the war. Many who were sympathetic with the free army saw this as a possible win for the free army. Kelly Escarcega, senior history major, shared some of her experiences meeting Syrian families in Jordan.

“There was this one family. They had little kids. They had been waiting in Jordan for six years. Just waiting for everything to stop. For the war to end. They still called Syria home. They just wanted to go back home and they were hopeful when Aleppo was retaken,” Escarcega said.

Todd Nettleton, director of media and public relations at Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization, shared some details about how Voice of the Martyrs is working with families who are seeking to stay in Aleppo. Around 206 families, 40 of whom were looking for sponsors, decided to stay in Aleppo.

“They said, ‘we are not going to flee the city, we are going to be representatives of Christ.’ It is a bold stand for them. The city is basically destroyed. It’s a war zone,” Nettleton said.

According to UPI, in Dec. 2016, Syrian government forces following orders of President Bashar al-Assad, re-took half of rebel held Aleppo. A ceasefire was announced to allow for the evacuation of civilians and rebels but the ceasefire was broken the next day when Syrian government forces resumed bombing Eastern Syria, both sides blaming each other for the fighting.

While there are many groups who stand on both sides of this war, Nettleton reminded that it is important to “Inform yourself on who stands for what, and to know what is really going on. The Middle East is a complicated place. There are so many conflicts: Shia and Sunni, Iran and Saudi Arabia. All these players working against each other and seeking status.”

“At this point, I don’t think these families care who wins,” Escarcega said.

“They just want to get home. And some of them have already given that up. When they come back home, if they ever get to, it won’t be the same as they remember.”