The Syrian army has closed in on rebel-held areas in Aleppo and is now within “moments” of retaking the city. Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in small pockets of opposition territory.
As the battle for the city enters its final phase, many residents have turned to Twitter to post their goodbyes.
Seven-year-old Bana Alabed, along with her mother Fatemah, have been tweeting the horrors from East Aleppo since September. After sending several distress calls to the rest of the world, Bana and her mother have resorted to tweeting their last messages.
Calls for a pause in the fighting by the UN have been ignored by Syria and Russia, who is aiding the government with an intensive air campaign. Syrian and Russian officials have vowed to continue the offensive until the rebels surrender or die (paywall).
Time appears to be running out for rebels and government forces to strike a deal on a humanitarian corridor, which would create a safe passage for civilians to get out of a crisis region and allow aid in. In one video, Lina Shamy, activist and resident, said this may be her last video and explained that the cities “civilians were stuck in a very small area” and that there were “no safe zones, no life.”
Many civilians are reportedly refusing (paywall) to go to government-held territory for fear they’ll be tortured, imprisoned or killed. One resident, who described himself as a teacher and activist, explained why he could not hand himself to regime forces (“I am speaking out and this is a crime. I might then ask death and not got it,” he tweeted) before sending a goodbye message to his followers.
There have been reports of Syrian pro-government forces entering homes and killing civilians on the spot, according to the United Nations (UN) human rights office. In four areas, around 82 civilians—including 11 women and 13 children—were shot on the spot.
“The Secretary-General is alarmed over reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children, in recent hours in Aleppo,” the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said in a statement.
Zouhir AlShimale, a freelance journalist and resident in Eastern Aleppo, spoke of the dead on the streets and the “total chaos” in a video, tweeting residents were “on the edge of death.”
There were also Syrians celebrating the advancement of the Syrian army on Twitter, including the pro-regime Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi. He castigated the international community for “fabricated lies” and for ignoring Saudi Arabia’s action in Yemen’s forgotten war.