Aleppo’s population endured years of bombardment and fighting when Syria’s once-largest and the most cosmopolitan city was one of the conflict’s toughest battlegrounds. Even that wasn’t enough to prepare them for this week’s earthquake’s new destruction and dread.
The suffering in Aleppo and throughout Syria increased due to the natural tragedy and other man-made ones.
Aleppo saw a significant reduction in fighting in 2016, but few destroyed and damaged structures had been repaired.
Additionally, more recently, the population has struggled with Syria’s economic collapse, which has driven up food costs and plunged many into poverty.
The earthquake’s impact is just too much.
Hovig Shehrian claimed that in 2014 when the fighting in Aleppo was at its peak, he and his parents had to flee their front-line home due to shelling and sniper fire. They traveled around neighborhoods for years to avoid conflict.
“It was a regular part of our day. We knew who to call and what to do, so if we heard a sound, we left, the 24-year-old stated.
But we were at a loss as to how to handle the earthquake. I was afraid we would perish.
Aleppans were startled awake by Monday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake located in Turkey, approximately 70 miles (112 kilometers) away, and forced to rush into the street in the chilly winter rain.
The city had dozens of building collapses. In the city, there were about 360 fatalities and hundreds of injuries. Three days later, workers were still searching the debris for the deceased and the surviving.
Over 11,000 people died in southern Turkey and northern Syria.
Even those whose buildings are still standing are hesitant to go back. Many people are now seeking refuge in schools.
More than 800 people, including women, children, and the elderly, jammed into every chamber of a Maronite Christian monastery.
“Up to this point, we had not slept in our homes. Imad al-Khal, the secretary-general of Christian denominations in Aleppo, who was assisting with shelter organization, noted that some individuals were sleeping in their cars.
Even after all they had experienced throughout the war, the earthquake was a shock and a new kind of terror for many.
The conflict was a cruel and protracted blockade for Aleppo. 2012, not long after Syria’s civil war started, saw rebels seize the eastern portion of the city. Russian-backed government soldiers fought to drive them out throughout the following years.
Blocks were wholly leveled by airstrikes and shelling from Syria and Russia. Bodies were discovered in the river that separates the city’s two sections. Residents on the western, the government held, side frequently came under mortar and rocket fire from the opposition.
After a decisive assault, months of urban combat concluded in December 2016 with a government triumph.
Government control was enforced over the entire city after opposition fighters and supporters evacuated. In the four years of fighting, activist groups believe that 31,000 people died, and nearly the whole population of the eastern sector was displaced.
Aleppo represented how Syrian President Bashar Assad, with support from Russia and Iran, retook most opposition-held areas in the country’s interior at the cost of terrible carnage. In the northwest, centered on Idlib province and areas of Aleppo province, which was also severely damaged by Monday’s earthquake, the opposition still controls a small enclave.
Aleppo, however, never recovered.
People have carried out any reconstruction. The city’s present population, which is no more than 4 million, is still less than its 4.5 million population before 2011.
The eastern sector is still largely abandoned and in ruins.
Buildings that were poorly constructed or destroyed during combat frequently collapse. A collapse on January 22 resulted in 16 fatalities. 11 people, including three children, were killed in another in September.
Armenak Tokmajyan, a non-resident fellow at Carnegie Middle East who is originally from the city, claimed that Aleppo was once the industrial center of Syria. Now, he claimed, it is economically backward and lacks basic infrastructure, and its populace, who had hoped for advances once combat ceased, has only witnessed things worsening.