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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/16/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian city is described as a deserted 'ghost town'

Thousands of Syrians have fled the city of Aleppo on account of the government's use of barrel bombs over the past two weeks. Fleeing Aleppo residents have described the city as an eerily deserted ghost town. "There's not a house intact that's not been damaged," one refugee said. "There's death everywhere. There are a lot of victims under the rubble. We can't get them out."

One Syrian refugee described the rapidly deteriorating situation. 'There are too many people, and the cost of living there became very expensive,' he said.

One Syrian refugee described the rapidly deteriorating situation. "There are too many people, and the cost of living there became very expensive," he said.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/16/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Aleppo, barrel bombs, Syria


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Crude, homemade devices, barrel bombs are oil drums packed with explosives and shrapnel that are rolled out the back door of high-flying Syrian military helicopters over opposition areas.

Detonating on impact, the bombs can level seven and eight-story residential buildings common in Aleppo's neighborhoods. The regime's unrestrained use of the indiscriminate weapons has led Syrians to nickname the improvised explosives "barrels of death." 

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More than 20,000 Syrians have arrived in Turkey so far this year, with sometimes 1,000 to 2,000 arriving daily. The United Nations' refugee agency says it's the biggest influx since early 2013. Turkish refugee camps have been overwhelmed by the influx, and some Syrians lucky enough to enter Turkey are sleeping in the nearby bus station. Syrians not allowed to cross into Turkey are stuck on the Syrian side of the border in a no man's land.

Whole neighborhoods in Aleppo have been abandoned. Some civilians from the opposition side are fleeing to government-held parts of the city, a dangerous endeavor that involves crossing front lines and risking sniper fire. 

Before civil war broke out in 2011, Aleppo was Syria's largest city, with an estimated population of 2.3 million. The city is nearly split in half between the opposition and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The regime has reportedly dropped an average of 30 barrel bombs onto opposition held areas of Aleppo every day since February 1, resulting in about 800 deaths in the city.

Videos posted on the Internet appear to document the carnage inflicted by the explosive barrels. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that on February 13 alone, airstrikes and barrel bombs killed 51 people.

"It's raining TNT in Aleppo," Khaled al-Milaji, head of the health department for the opposition National Syrian Coalition's aid arm in Turkey says.

One Syrian refugee described the rapidly deteriorating situation. "There are too many people, and the cost of living there became very expensive," he said.

The Free Syrian Army's commander in Aleppo province, Col. Abdul Jabar Akaidi, said the barrel bombs haven't specifically targeted the armed opposition, nor have they affected his troops.

"The safest place in Aleppo is the front line. When I go to Aleppo, I sleep on the front line because it's safe. You don't sleep in the civilian areas because the bombs fall on those areas," he said.

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