[Marxism] Aleppo

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 21 07:16:11 MST 2016


(Years ago Peter Camejo told me that the American left has to stop 
splitting over international questions, referring to for example how the 
Maoists treated which guerrillas to back in Angola as a test of their 
revolutionary credentials. I still think this makes sense even if I 
truly wonder how anybody who was radicalized by the war in Vietnam can 
read an article like this and continue to serve as spin-doctors for 
Putin and Assad.)

NY Times, November 21 2016
Aleppo Bombs Leave Quarter Million ‘Living in Hell’ and Without Hospital 
Care
By ALISSA J. RUBIN and HWAIDA SAAD

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The remaining hospitals on the rebel-held side of 
Aleppo, Syria, have been badly damaged and forced to stop providing care 
amid an intensifying bombardment, according to the World Health 
Organization.

Bombs launched by the Syrian government over the past three days 
seriously damaged two general hospitals that were providing trauma care 
in the war zone and hit the only children’s hospital, according to 
doctors, nurses and residents.

The destruction left more than a quarter-million people in eastern 
Aleppo without hospital care, the W.H.O. said. It is unclear if the 
hospitals will be able to reopen.

“Although some health services are still available through small 
clinics, residents no longer have access to trauma care, major 
surgeries, and other consultations for serious health conditions,” the 
health organization said in a statement issued Sunday.

Dr. Omar, the last neurosurgeon in eastern Aleppo, who declined to 
provide his full name out of fear for his safety, sounded desperate when 
reached at the height of the bombing on Friday.

“We no longer have hospitals to operate in,” he said. “You can’t imagine 
what it’s like living in Aleppo right now. It feels like we are living 
in hell. Our neighborhoods are in flames, and bombs are raining down 
from the sky. We urgently call on the international community to send help.”

Humanitarian agencies have described the attacks on health care 
facilities as deliberate.

The rebel-held area of the city is surrounded by government forces and 
has already run out of most food rations, medicines, bandages and fuel. 
It has little water.

“The regime is trying to cut off the city,” said Abu Roma, who uses a 
nom de guerre and is a rebel commander with the Zinki group, which 
opposes President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

“I would say the worst scenario is that we will be martyrs,” he said, 
referring to all those remaining in the rebel-held area.

Aleppo, the country’s largest city, has been divided since 2012, but the 
situation became markedly worse over the summer. In recent weeks, there 
had been a rare respite from airstrikes on rebel-held districts, but 
that ended last week.

Now it appears to both fighters and civilians that the Syrian government 
has resolved to press forward regardless of the humanitarian cost, and 
to gamble that Western countries, particularly the United States, will 
not stop them. President Obama has never been keen on military action in 
Syria, and the incoming American president, Donald J. Trump, is more 
sympathetic to Russia, which has allied with the Syrian government.

“Aleppo is the pivot,” said Joost Hiltermann, the Middle East and North 
Africa program director for the International Crisis Group.

Although the government might like to reclaim all of the areas where it 
has lost control, Russia and Iran, another ally, are less interested, 
Mr. Hiltermann said.

“But they all agree on Aleppo,” he said. “It is too big to let go, and 
the interregnum in the United States is a good chance to press their 
advantage,” he said.

As always in the long-running Syria conflict, the sheer numbers of the 
dead and wounded and the scale of misery and destruction fast eclipses 
what is imaginable, and each individual story recedes. But the snapshots 
from the past few days in rebel-held Aleppo have been deeply disturbing.

A video circulating on social media, which was taken by Al Jazeera 
during the bombing at the children’s hospital, showed children being 
treated with oxygen masks after an alleged chlorine gas attack elsewhere 
in the city.

Al Jazeera captured footage of nurses taking premature infants, whom 
they could balance in one hand, out of incubators as clouds of dust from 
the bombing rose around them. One nurse hugged another as they held tiny 
infants in their arms. The babies were carried to a basement shelter and 
placed together under a blanket.

In one shot, a father cried out for his small son. “I’ve lost 
everything, oh, Ahmad,” he said. “I’ve lost everything, you are my life.”

For now, the only remaining medical services have gone underground or 
into people’s homes, said Mohamed Kahil, the head of the forensic 
facility in the rebel-held area of the city. “Hospitals have moved to 
basements, to streets, to houses,” he said.

“The medics and staff are still functioning with high energy, but under 
harsh conditions,” he said.

Four medics were killed in the five days since intensive bombing 
resumed, said Mohamed al-Ahmad, a radiology nurse in Aleppo reached on 
social media.

As the latest fighting took place, Staffan de Mistura, the United 
Nations Special Representative for Syria, traveled to Syria to press for 
a suspension of the bombing on all sides; a humanitarian relief effort 
to help civilians get medical care, food and fuel; and a guarantee some 
sort of safe passage for the insurgents.

Five rebel groups active in and around Aleppo — including the powerful 
Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and several groups that receive American 
support — said in a letter late Sunday that they supported Mr. de 
Mistura’s plan.

Walid al-Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister who met with Mr. de 
Mistura, claimed to want to help civilians in the rebel-held areas, whom 
the regime views as “hostages” of the insurgents, according to a report 
by the Syrian Arab News Agency, which is close to Mr. Assad’s government.

However, Mr. Moallem dismissed out of hand any suggestion that eastern 
Aleppo could be self-governing. He said that would be a “reward for the 
terrorists,” who he said were still shelling western Aleppo, which is 
held by the government. He used as an example children killed Sunday in 
a school there. Mr. Moallem said that 11 were killed, but that number 
could not be confirmed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented 13 people 
killed in government-held Aleppo since Thursday, among them seven 
children killed on Sunday. At least 64 people were killed on the 
rebel-held side of the city in the same time period.

Mr. Moallem also appeared to reject the idea of a humanitarian pause in 
the bombing unless there were guarantees “from the countries supporting 
terrorists,” adding that the United Nations did not have any guarantees. 
He was referring to the United States and some Arab countries, such as 
Saudi Arabia, that have backed some of the groups that oppose the 
government of Mr. Assad.

Although groups of fighters said they were prepared to back the United 
Nations plan, individual fighters did not sound ready to give up.

“We will never get along with the Alawite; we will exterminate them,” 
Hassan Yaacoub, an independent fighter who is not with any faction, said 
on WhatsApp, a messaging service, referring to the minority Muslim sect 
of which Mr. Assad is a member.

“From now on, I will only talk in sectarian terms,” he said. “The mask 
has fallen. Bye, bye Syria, bye bye one Syria; Syria is no more.”

Anne Barnard contributed reporting from Tunis.




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