Syria’s Aleppo news is getting even worse, if that’s possible. Striking at 4 AM and 10 AM in the morning, Syrian artillery and Russian aircraft bombed at least two hospitals in the city of Aleppo, killing countless civilians in and around these facilities. Russia’s bombing of eastern Aleppo is continuing,and Russian officials have rejected any idea of ending the bombing. CNN reports Secretary of State John Kerry is threatening to pull out of cease-fire talks in the Syrian Civil War.
The two hospitals that were bombed are now completely inoperable. This leaves the besieged and battered city of Aleppo with over 250,000 terrified citizens, who now have access to only two other hospitals capable of performing surgery. Reports stated that approximately 100 children were killed in the most recent Russian bombing attacks.
In addition to the loss of these two hospitals, the citizens of Aleppo are almost entirely without running water, electricity or other day-to-day essentials. While private humanitarian organizations have attempted to fill the gap, the ongoing warfare makes their efforts woefully inadequate. Currently, the forces of the government seem to be organizing for a major push into the eastern part of Aleppo.
And with the attack on these hospitals, it’s now clear that the Russians and the Syrian government are directly targeting many of the so-called “white hats” who have been working to rescue people in Aleppo and elsewhere in the war-torn nation. This makes it unlikely they will be able to continue their work.
Why Is Russia Bombing Syria & Aleppo?
Russian forces – and in particular the Russian Air Force – are in Syria attempting to prop up the Assad regime and to help it crush the rebel forces that have been fighting against the government in Syria since 2011. The ongoing Syrian Civil War has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and dislocated approximately half the population of the country.
Aleppo had a population of 500,000 and was once Syria’s largest city, but half of the residents have fled the city or been killed. Like many other Syrians, some people from Aleppo have made their way to Europe as refugees.
One of the reasons that the Russian and Syrian government forces are focusing so heavily on Aleppo is that the capture of its eastern portion represented one of the principal victories of rebel forces over the Syrian government. That is why Assad has poured thousands of troops into his effort to retake the rest of the city.
As more and more rebel groups have formed, and outsiders have joined the battle, it’s become difficult to keep track of who is fighting whom. At this time, rebel forces still control eastern Aleppo, and this is where Syrian and Russian forces are concentrating their attacks. But even if government forces and their Russian overlords win, there may be virtually nothing left of Aleppo for them to occupy.
There is increasing evidence that the Russians and their Syrian allies are making use of forbidden weaponry, including cluster bombs that inevitably increase civilian casualties to even higher levels. While over 100 nations have banned the use of cluster bombs, neither Syria or Russia are signatories to these agreements.
The Aleppo Moment for the United States
The time may have finally come when the West and particularly the United States will have to decide if it is willing to commit more fully to combating Assad in Syria. But this might mean directly confronting the Russians militarily. Certainly, it seems clear that simply supplying weapons and other support to the rebel forces has been insufficient.
In addition to battling the Syrian government itself, the rebel forces in Syria are being attacked by the Russians and incoming Iranian forces as well. While they have occasionally scored significant victories, the likelihood of them actually succeeding in the long run without much more substantial assistance from the United States is virtually nonexistent.
According to the AP, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel has again called for a ceasefire in Syria, but no one seems to be listening. Merkel herself seems pessimistic about a ceasefire’s chances.
Unfortunately for the rebels, the United States is currently caught up in the presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. With Barack Obama approaching the end of his last term as president, it’s unlikely he would be willing to commit significant numbers of United States troops to the explosively dangerous situation in and around Aleppo.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]