Syrian Opposition Forces Lose Grip On Aleppo After Week Of Bombing
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The fall of the Syrian city of Aleppo would be a major turning point in Syria's civil war. It was once the country's biggest city, and it's long been divided between pro-government and antigovernment forces. The city is just an hour's drive from Turkey, but Aleppo is increasingly cut off from the outside world because of the conflict. In recent months, pro-government troops have gained ground, and Russia is helping those troops with airstrikes. We asked a man who lives in Aleppo - he's an antigovernment activist - to describe those airstrikes. We reached him via Skype. Because of concerns for his own safety, he asked that we only use his first name, Mahmoud (ph).
MAHMOUD: It's a very bad sound. You will hear very high sound, and it's like a whole explosion happened behind you. It's very big. And you will hear after that the screaming of the womens and the children. After five or 10 minutes, you will hear the voice of the ambulance. The (unintelligible) come around to take a look if there is any injuries, and also, all the time, you will find the injuries over there. And I can confirm you. It's all from the civilian.
MCEVERS: And how many of these airstrikes are you hearing every day?
MAHMOUD: It's between five to eight every day. And every day, you will have a massacre in Aleppo city.
MCEVERS: Two million people used to live in Aleppo before the war. Now there are many estimates that there are about 400,000 people who still live in the rebel-controlled parts of the city. What is daily life? What is it like for them now?
MAHMOUD: Right now, every morning, you will see thousand of civilians trying to fleeing Aleppo to Turkey or to another village in the countryside of Idlib. The people here divide to two sides, first side which are going to Turkey or Idlib and the second side, which is decide to stay here. And they have the fear of siege, so they try to store all what they can to store...
MCEVERS: I see.
MAHMOUD: ...Food, fuel and milk for their childrens and everything. And that's also make the (unintelligible) more expensive.
MCEVERS: You say there's people who either have decided to leave or people who decided to stay and...
MCEVERS: ...Put things in storage and hope that they have enough if the city does get cut off.
MCEVERS: Which side are you on? Are you going to leave, or are you going to stay?
MAHMOUD: No (laughter). Absolutely I want to stay.
MCEVERS: Yeah. Why?
MAHMOUD: Because this is my city.
MAHMOUD: I think my city is in need for me. I think I can do something to help those people who choose to stay here. I used to be one of the people who started this revolution, so I will stay to end this revolution, to win in this revolution.
MCEVERS: Do people in the city feel like it's about to fall? I mean, I know there's been times before when there was a worry that Aleppo would fall. Do people in the rebel-controlled parts of the city feel like it's - it will be taken?
MAHMOUD: You can't judge the civilians because all the time, the world say that Aleppo will get surrounded. So they will get panic. They're all trying to escape from the city. Yes, they have this fear, but all the time, we've passed this situation. So we hope that we will pass it, this one, also.
MCEVERS: Well, Mahmoud, Syrian activist, thank you very much.
MAHMOUD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.