Toddler survives bombing, galvanizes opposition
Humanitarian situation in Aleppo getting worse.
Despite common sense and every clear sign that the end is near, Bashar al-Assad clings to power. Unable to fight the rebels who are now more numerous than ever, Assad's regime has turned to indiscriminate massacres to suppress opposition.
Civilians must clear rubble and search for survivors without the aid of heavy equipment.
Normally, their efforts prove fruitless, but not on Monday. Rescuers first saw the mother's lifeless body and feared the worst - she would be holding her 1-year-old son, who would also be deceased. But sometimes, there are small miracles.
Instead of finding a tiny lifeless body, rescuers pulled a year-old boy, named Hassan, alive from the rubble. His mother had protected him with her body, shielding him form the debris. Without time to think or say goodbye, she instinctively spared his life as death came down upon her head.
News of the child's survival rippled through the streets of Aleppo this week, galvanizing hope for thousands who remain behind in the battered city, too afraid to leave, or without opportunity to escape.
CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT SYRIAN ATTACKS ARE DOING (GRAPHIC IMAGES)
Locals are saying that planes deliberately attack places that appear crowded. The fighter jets are the worst. Using Soviet-built MiG 23's, the swing-wing planes can swoop in so fast there is little warning for the people on the ground. They must hope the pilots miss.
Often they do, but a miss can be just as deadly as a hit, killing scores of people anyway, since the bombs are falling on residential areas.
These brutal and indiscriminate tactics have escalated the death toll to 26,000 in just a matter of months. And heavy fighting has raged in Aleppo for the mat month, making daily survival, and reporting difficult.
Many locals blame the international community for sitting idly by and deliberating without providing help. They know about the assistance granted to the Libyans last year and angry ask why they too can't at least have the humanitarian aid that was sent by ships to Libya.
For it's part, the US government has now promised training and non-lethal equipment to help the rebels, but no arms. Of course there are plenty of weapons already. Although the rebels here lack heavy weaponry like tanks and helicopters, they all appear well armed with rifles and other small arms.
What is most badly needed now is humanitarian assistance. Before this conflict, Aleppo was a modern city with modern conveniences. Today, it is worse off than many cities in the underdeveloped world. Residents here are still managing to get food and water, but medicine is in very short supply. Doctors are rare, and in great demand amongst both side.
Outside the city, the situation is even worse. Refugees must cross the desert without anything but what they can carry and hope they make it alive to the Turkish or Lebanese border. Even then, life in the refugee camps is desperate and Spartan.
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The locals remain grateful for small miracles such as the survival of baby Hassan, but everyone knows they need more than hope. They need meaningful support. Until Assad's bombs stop dropping and doctors can actually treat the sick, misery will prevail in Aleppo.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Aleppo, Syria, Hassan, aid, humanitarian
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