Battle for Aleppo a pivotal moment for besieged residents

The Associated Press reports: The 28-year-old Syrian attorney turned down a scholarship to study economics in Germany in order to remain in his native Aleppo after rebels took it over in 2012, promising a new administration and life free of the rule of President Bashar Assad.

Four years later, besieged in the ruins of Syria’s largest city and once its commercial heart, Mohammed Khandakani’s dream is in serious jeopardy after Syrian troops, aided by Russian air power, closed the lifeline of the rebel-held area after weeks of fighting.

The siege and inaction by world and regional powers that claim to support the rebels collided to deprive him of “brief feelings of independence and freedom,” Khandakani said in a telephone interview from inside Aleppo, which has been largely cut off from the international media. A resident of the Maadi neighborhood, close to the city’s old quarter, he now fears for his two children, wife, mother and other relatives.

Khandakani, who volunteers with the city’s medical council and documents casualties of war, is among tens of thousands of Syrians trapped in the rebel-controlled part of Aleppo, struggling to survive the crippling encirclement of their once-thriving city. Bread and medicine are being rationed, and as fuel runs out, many are relying on bicycles to run errands past skeletons of buildings and rubble that litter the city’s narrow alleys and streets.

For those who remain amid the government siege that began July 17, the battle for Aleppo is a pivotal point in the Syrian civil war. [Continue reading…]

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