Skip to main content

Aleppo strafed by shells, fear, misery

From Ben Wedeman, CNN
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Blasts rattle the city through the night, and neighborhoods endure artillery fire
  • Traumatized people wait in line for bread
  • Residents who aren't able to flee the city hunker down in their homes or shelters
  • U.N. cites "deteriorating security" as it pulls team of observers from Aleppo

Aleppo, Syria (CNN) -- Two dozen U.N. monitors fled Aleppo on Tuesday, joining the steady stream of civilians who are escaping the fighting between rebels and regime forces.

"We have pulled out the entire team of observers from Aleppo today due to the deteriorating security situation there in the city," said Juliette Touma, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria.

"This is a temporary move back to Damascus and we still hope to return the team when the security situation allows."

People who aren't able to flee the city hunkered down in their homes or shelters. They fear a bloodbath as the Syrian army masses its forces on the outskirts of the city.

Opinion: Now is the time for U.S. to act on Syria

Syrian regime prepares Aleppo assault
The battle for Aleppo, Syria intensifies
Reporter in Syria: Intense shelling
The Battle for Aleppo

The Free Syrian Army remains ensconced in many Aleppo neighborhoods, but it has endured a pounding from Syrian forces for days and days.

Blasts rattle the city through the night, and the Levantine metropolis is coming to resemble a battered urban moonscape.

Several Aleppo neighborhoods took artillery fire Tuesday morning, striking panic among residents.

Opposition forces report warplane strikes on the Bab al-Hadid and Bab Al-Nasr areas, and shelling is raging in the Salaheddine neighborhood.

All, especially children, are traumatized.

At one bakery, about 100 men, women and children lined up, waiting 90 minutes for bread. Most of them lack cooking gas and have to cook their food over firewood.

Read more: Snipers, bombs - and sometimes open bakeries

Some people have moved to rebel-controlled areas regarded as safer. Others have moved to the countryside, escaped to Turkey or taken refuge in government-controlled neighborhoods.

One man said he left the city recently and then returned, hoping things would be calmer. But he saw people in the rebel-controlled parts of Aleppo packing up and leaving.

There's desperation among rebel fighters too, as they wait for more munitions to arrive.

One field hospital was overwhelmed by rebel fighters wounded in attacks by Syria's air force. Doctors lacked enough staff, medicine and supplies to deal with the wounded.

With their hands covered with the blood of the fighters they were treating, they made cell phone calls to doctors and nurses in other neighborhoods for urgent help.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, released a series of satellite images from the Aleppo area, including one that shows "more than 600 probable artillery impact craters" in the nearby town of Anadan.

"Turning Syria's most populous city into a battlefield will have devastating consequences for civilians. The atrocities in Syria are mounting already," said Christoph Koettl, emergency response manager for Amnesty International USA.

"The Syrian military and the opposition fighters must both adhere to international humanitarian law, which strictly forbids the use of tactics and weapons that fail to distinguish between military and civilian targets."

Q&A: What options are left in Syria?

CNN's Brian Walker and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT