Waiting For Obama ... Waiting ... Waiting
"There are fault lines emerging that we thought we had overcome."
"The United States has been slow to recognize this is a much bigger thing than anything else we’ve experienced since the beginning of the European Union. We didn’t see it earlier, we were totally unprepared. . . . We’re not blaming the United States. It takes time for this country to realize that it’s really that serious."
Peter Wittig, German ambassador to the United States
"Russia is the second superpower in the world, and Russia is using all of its power against the rebels. "They’re using a scorched-earth policy, and they don’t care what the international community says."Syrian President Bashar al Assad's troops, along with those of Hezbollah, are squeezing the life out of Aleppo. In a gradual pincer-like military move against a vulnerable and helpless civilian population, they are moving ever closer to the rebel-held city in a siege operation that augers, if no relief appears, that there will be problems beyond mere privation and fears of deadly bombings in their neighbourhoods; starvation as a mortal threat to survival looms in their future.
"The problem is the friends of the regime are really good friends and give lots of support, whereas our friends sometimes give support and sometimes not."
Mohammed Adib, political officer, Jabhat Shamiya, main rebel group, northern Aleppo province
"People will not surrender to [Assad] under any circumstances. If things stay as they are, with no support and no one stopping Russia, the rebels will be pushed into a corner and . . . all possibilities will be open."
Khaled Shihabeddine, political adviser, Noureddin al-Zinki rebel group.
"There is a lot of fear, especially after people saw Madaya. They don't want the same to happen to them."
"Some bakeries have stopped production because diesel is too expensive. Life here is tied to diesel."
Karam Almasri, opposition media activist, Aleppo, Syria
"We are choosing one death over another. Let us die in our land and in our homes [rather] than in the cold at the [Turkish] border."
"I don't know how we'll eat it [bread dried on rooftops]. We haven't tried it yet. But if you eat it with lentils, it will fill you up. It won't leave you content, but it will fill you up."
Bahaa Halaby, opposition media activist, Aleppo
People are hoarding food wherever they can find it, in fear of a long, tortuous siege. They are placing bread on the roofs of houses hoping that the bread will dry, so it can be stored against a prolonged period of unavailability of food. The knowledge that starvation was the result in the town of Madaya after it had been besieged, inspires dreadful trepidation in the minds of the Aleppo civilians. Living in a city that was the country's former commercial capital, its transformation into a blasted prison is misery incarnate.
An estimated one million people are being held in areas that the regime has been blockading. In Aleppo the government controls the western portion of the city just as the eastern portion is held by the insurgents. And it is in the east where the city has been razed to rubble in many neighbourhoods, where historical heritage buildings have been levelled by government bombardment. The regime succeeded in cutting an opposition supply route from the border with Turkey, with but one corridor left from the east to the world outside.
Once boasting a population of over two million, the provincial capital of Aleppo is estimated to now harbour 300,000 people in the eastern portion. The United Nations warns those people will be cut off from any aid should the Syrian government and its Shiite militias alongside Hezbollah completely encircle the city. The price of diesel has doubled in the past two weeks, reflecting dwindling supplies from Turkey. And that has affected the availability of bread, now in severe shortage.
BULENT KILIC / AFP/GETTY IMAGESAccording to Turkish officials some 35,000 refugees have massed near the border with Syria. This family is sheltering near the Oncupinar crossing gate at the border at in Kilis, Turkey
Tens of thousands of Aleppo residents have been forced to leave their city, carrying with them dimming hope that they will ever return. They represent the Syrians desperate to enter Turkey but who are being kept outside its borders where within there are over three million Syrians who have earlier fled the carnage in their country. Turkey claims to be surfeit with desperate refugees, unable and incapable of absorbing any more. And so, roughly 40,000 Syrians wait within the Syrian border sleeping in the cold winter nights exposed and vulnerable, most with tents, some with nothing.
The UN Security Council and the international community, for all their hand-wringing, are "two-faced" in their demands that Turkey open its borders, themselves not moving "a finger to solve the Syrian crisis", much less put a halt to Russian bombs creating ever more waves of refugees. This, according to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who insists the Syrian and Russian military operations represent an effort to cleanse Syria of all those who don't support Assad.