Article by: Iryna Shtohrin
On December 13, the UN office for human rights stated that it had eyewitness reports of the execution of civilians in the eastern districts of Aleppo, Syria, which the previous day had been taken under control by the government forces of President Bashar Assad with the help of the Russian military. Russians, however, reported that the Syrian forces treated both the civilian population of Aleppo and the anti-government rebels humanely.
What is happening in Aleppo? What connection does it have to Ukraine? Radio Svoboda discussed the issue with geophysicist Yuriy Kostiuchenko, research scientist and disaster analysis specialist at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, who until recently maintained contact with the activists in the humanitarian missions in Aleppo.
According to your information, what is happening in Aleppo?
After the fall on December 12 of the last neighborhoods held by the insurgents, some 15,000 people, whom the Iranian and Russian mercenaries consider accomplices of the insurgents, were under the threat of destruction. Assad mercenaries are doing what they’re used to doing — namely, “cleansing.”
Their tradition is to carry out what we define as mass murder– that is, they kill everyone they see. Around 6:00 pm on Monday reports started coming in about the beginning of the massacre in Aleppo carried out by Assad’s people.
How did you get this information?
As recently as last night we still heard from the Syrian Observatory (monitoring group that document instances of human rights violations during the conflict in Syria — Ed.), activists with humanitarian organizations, and members of the Syrian “White Helmets” humanitarian organization, who refused to leave. They were transmitting information until the last minute.
In general, until the time the communication with the blockaded neighborhoods was interrupted (this happened at about 3:00 am) we received the report about the killing of at least 180 people. Now the deaths of 87 civilians have been confirmed, including 13 children. The names of the victims have been reported. Such extrajudicial executions occurred in the Kalaseh area, in the streets of al-Firdous and al-Salheen, and in the Al-Hayat hospital. The family members of the Ayim, Al-Hasan, and Mari families were killed (a total of 14 people), as well as the Sindat (9 people, including 4 minor), Fassir, Haydzhar, Ekko, and Fael (a total of 25 persons) families.
I don’t know the fate of people I had been communicating with.
Also, one activist wrote that because of significant losses and the need to use people as “human shields” during the attack, Assad’s people have been carrying out forced mobilizations in the occupied districts of Aleppo. Over the past two days, 7,000 youths have been mobilized.
Russians were reported during the executions in the Kalaseh areas and in the Al-Hayat hospital. In other cases, these were Iranians and the Hezbollah.
Certain neighborhoods have been blockaded and are under constant shelling, even though there is no offensive being carried out against them and there is no information about the presence of opposition groups there. According to various estimates, there are up to 80,000 people that are being terrorized in these neighborhoods: Sayf al-Dawla, al-Ezaat, al-Zabadia, Salaheddine , al-Mashad, al-Sukkari, and al-Amiriyah. Local activists report that Russians are carrying out the shelling.
What conclusions can you draw from this?
In my view, the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine are interlinked conflicts: these are the fronts of the same war. In both places we are dealing with the expansion of exactly the same interests on a global level. Ukraine’s immediate enemy is working out certain military actions. What is happening there is what did not happen in Ukraine.
We have to study the situation carefully and draw conclusions for Ukraine in terms of military and social security.
What Putin is doing in Aleppo is what he did not do in Kyiv last year or the year before last. Syrians are dying for us as well. In a certain sense, this is true. Putin is taking out his anger over his defeat in Ukraine on the Syrians. These geopolitical ambitions that Putin was not able to achieve in Ukraine he is achieving in the Middle East.
We have to look at Aleppo and understand that this could have been us — in Kyiv, in Dnipropetrovsk, in Lviv.
Our conclusions must be based on the understanding that there are no international security issues that do not concern us. Everything concerns everyone. And it is very important to realize that the lack of consolidation in society increases the threats and may lead to defeat.
We must draw people’s attention to this situation as well as the attention of the international community. We must help to solve this problem with the means that we have. We have to do what we can.
If we close our eyes to what is happening in the Levant, in the Middle East, in Syria, in Aleppo, there will be a repetition of the Srebrenica history. There will be genocide.
People who stood up against tyranny have made their choice, and now — this night, at this very moment — they are paying the highest price for their choice. And we do not need to exert special efforts to understand them. They are writing, they are phoning, they are saying goodbye, they are asking that we remember them They wish us happiness, that the smoke from the ashes never darkens the blue sky and the sunshine above our heads, so that we will not have to wash the blood of our enemies or our brothers from our hands. They are leaving us. Under the cold December night rain of Aleppo. Death is pouncing at them with the stiff fingers of the mercenary marauders. But standing in the way is eternity, which they are approaching fearlessly. There is no more pain, no more hunger, no fear and suffering, Dear God, deliver us from indifference and everything else we will attain together.