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200,000 Flee Aleppo; Syria’s Economy Withering

200,000 Flee Aleppo; Syria’s Economy Withering

 

In the past two days at least 200,000 have fled Aleppo as intense fighting between government forces and rebels continues. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad initiated a ground assault on Saturday along with shelling and firing from fighter jets. United Nations humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos said that those still in the city face shortages of food, water and power and are urgently in need of help; many have left their homes and sought shelters in schools.

The BBC’s Ian Pannell is in the Aleppo area and says that, while the army has superior resources, the rebels fighters are maintaining an effective guerilla war in the city’s streets. Syrian state television is claiming that regime forces have regained control of the Salah al-Din neighborhood in Aleppo’s south-west but activists dispute these claims.

Other developments reported in the BBC offer further signs that support for Assad’s regime is slowly slipping away. Syria’s most senior diplomat in London, Charge d-Affaires Khaled al-Ayoubi, says that he has left his post as he will no longer represent a regime that has “committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people.” Twelve police officers, including the head of the coastal city of Latakia’s police force, have reportedly fled to Turkey which is sending reinforcements to the Syrian border.

The UN Security Council has been deadlocked for months over how to address the crisis in Syria through diplomatic means. France is to take over the council’s leadership this week and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who has referred to Assad as an “executioner,” has stated that “We must try everything even though Russia and China have blocked resolutions on three separate occasions.” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has still indicated that compromise might be possible.

US Defense Minister Leon Panetta, who is on five-day tour of the Middle East, says that Assad’s assault on Aleppo is “a nail in the coffin” for his regime.

But what may ultimately spell the end for Assad is the bite of more and more sanctions that have been imposed on the country. According to Bloomberg, the US has had restrictions against Syria dating back to 2004 and the European Union placed sanctions on Syria in May 2011, two months after the first popular protests were held against Assad in the southern of Dera’a in mid-March. In July, US Secretary of State said that Syria’s currency and foreign reserves had “collapsed,” with sanctions on oil along costing Assad’s regime billions of dollars. Trade, bank lending and tourism have all been severely curtailed since the uprising began and essentials such as cooking fuel are now being rationed to people standing in long lines.

The United Nations gives these figures about where Syrians have fled in the 16-month uprising (with links to BBC coverage):

Turkey: 43,387

Jordan: 36,824

Lebanon: 31,596

Iraq: 8,445

In addition, at least one million people have displaced within Syria’s own borders.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

US, UK Fear Massacre in Aleppo By Syrian Army

Over 19,000 Killed in Syria

Russia’s UN Veto “Inexcusable” to Syrian People

 

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15 comments

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2:09AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Yemen, for one, as well as other Arab states are helping to arm and provision the rebels. Russia has been supplying arms to the Syrian régime. Any wonder they are trying to push a diplomatic settlement and vetoing UN action?

As I remember from the early days, this started with relatively peaceful protests that Al Assad ignored until things blew apart. Some of the rebels defected from the Syrian army and police. There are now defections from top government positions, some to Turkey, some to the UK.

It is a sad situation undoubtedly, and one that should end up in the war crimes court in The Hague. To take such indiscriminate action against women and children, indeed, any citizen, is unconscionable.

3:37PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

sad

2:37PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Who the heck are these "rebels" anyway? Nobody in Syria seems to really support them, so what's their agenda? If some "rebels" of that sort were to rise up anywhere in America or Europe, the governments there would put them down, so why shouldn't the Syrian government try to stop this pointless "rebellion?" We still don't know who those bearded, treasonous boy-wonders were who started that pointless "rebellion" in Libya nobody but the US and the UK supported. When these islamic misogynists yell about wanting a democracy, one really needs to ask what their definition of a democracy is.

2:31PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Who the heck are these "rebels" anyway? Nobody in Syria seems to really support them, so what's their agenda? If some "rebels" of that sort were to rise up anywhere in America or Europe, the governments there would put them down, so why shouldn't the Syrian government try to stop this pointless "rebellion?" We still don't know who those bearded, treasonous boy-wonders were who started that pointless "rebellion" in Libya nobody but the US and the UK supported. When these islamic misogynists yell about wanting a democracy, one really needs to ask what their definition of a democracy is.

1:13PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Insane. The evil influence of religion and the arms manufacturers again.

12:50PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Why are they fleeing? Aleppo didn't rise up in favour of the rebels so they decided to invade with the new deadly toys they received from the USI, Qatar and the KSA. Centuries of tolerance, living together, progress are being destroyed by these fundie mercenaries. And Kristina Chew doesn't say a word, simply propagandises for the dark forces she supports. Aleppo is - was - a beacon of acceptance of difference and the evil insurrectionists fighting for foreign masters against the secular and legitimate Syrian government are trying to ruin this. This is why they're running away.

12:28PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Yep, I hope the propagandist Kristina Chew is satisfied. Fundamentalist rebels armed, financed and directed from outside (Qatar, KSA, Zionist Entity, Turkey and the USI) are trying to "liberate" the citizens of Aleppo from themselves. Tired of waiting for them to rise up (and they didn't because they support the al-Assad legitimate government) the "rebels", actually mercenaries, invaded with the new deadly toys supplied to them by those evil countries mentioned and are busy trying to destroy centuries of tolerance, tradition and progress.

At least Ms Chew didn't quote the laughable SOHR this time.

6:47AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

I believe that these so-called "rebels"are Islamic fundamentalists,and in fact on our news yesterday,it was stated that "Al Quaeda"are helping them! So one has to ask why would Assad not defend his country against them as he is not a rabid fundamentalist,and also why would the USA and its so-called allies want to have Islamic fundamentalists installed in all the countries in the Middle East,which are being turned upside down,with hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens displaced,injured or killed?The answer,I think,is to keep the so-called "War on Terror"going for decades while those countries that make billions out of armament sales,see their failing economies pick up and thrive?There is also the question of plundering some oil and resources while all the tribes,which were previously kept under control by the local dictator,are fighting each other in a power struggle?!There will never be true democracy in these places.Anyone agree??

7:33PM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

I wish that the President had taken a stronger stand against the Assad regime, just as I had wished he had taken a stronger stand against Iran when it brutally suppressed its dissidents.

12:53PM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

Just dreadful. Thanks for the update.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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