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Syria: Siege, airstrikes drive Aleppo to catastrophe

A severe shortage of medicines and medical staff has forced many hospitals in Aleppo to suspend operation

25.07.2016
Syria: Siege, airstrikes drive Aleppo to catastrophe

By Mohamad Misto and Zein al-Mustafa

ALEPPO, Syria

A siege imposed by the Syrian regime on the northern city of Aleppo coupled with an uptick in airstrikes and closure of hospitals are leaving the city at the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe.

In February, the Syrian regime cut the supply route between Aleppo’s northern countryside and opposition-held eastern neighborhood.

Two weeks ago, regime forces moved to cut Castello road, which links the contested city of Aleppo with opposition-held Idlib, imposing a total blockade on opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo.

Described as the “world’s most dangerous city”, Aleppo has now become more unsafe than it has ever been following a sharp rise in airstrikes carried out by the Syrian regime and Russian warplanes.

This all has prevented aid agencies to deliver the most-needed foodstuff to the besieged residents in Aleppo.

Worse still, a severe shortage of medicines and medical staff has forced many hospitals in Aleppo to suspend operation.

“Four hospitals and a blood bank have suspended operation after they were targeted by airstrikes,” Abdel Basit Ibrahim, director of the pro-opposition Health Directorate in Aleppo, told Anadolu Agency.

He said only three hospitals are currently operating in the besieged city.

“The provision of medical services in opposition-held area has become very limited,” Ibrahim said, going on to lament silence of the international community toward developments in the city.

Ibrahim said that there are only 30 medics in Aleppo.

“They can’t meet the massive demand [for medical services] due to the hysterical bombardment of the city,” he said.

-Humanitarian catastrophe

Beshr al-Hawi, a spokesman of Aleppo’s opposition-run local council, warned that the besieged city is facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

“The main stock of flour and foodstuff is only sufficient for three months at most,” he told Anadolu Agency.

He noted that prices have grown by 40 percent since the Syrian regime imposed a siege on the city.

Mahmud Talha, the head of Shaam News Network, for his part, said that regime and Russian warplanes have launched an average 25 raids per day over the past two weeks.

“Around 300 people were killed and the double this number were injured during this period,” he said.

Talha warned that up to 400,000 people are at the risk of starvation in Aleppo.

Last week, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien warned that up to 300,000 people are at risk of besiegement in Aleppo.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of that year’s "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.

The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, has put the death toll from the five-year conflict at more than 470,000.

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