Helpless citizens trapped in eastern Aleppo have been posting heartbreaking messages and videos on social media as pro-government forces renewed airstrikes and artillery shelling this week following the collapse of plans for a ceasefire.
If the ceasefire had gone ahead, the remaining Syrian civilians and rebel forces were likely to have been evacuated from the city. Instead, reports have emerged of pro-government forces shooting civilians on sight, killing at least 82 people including 11 women and 13 children, and U.N. spokesperson Jens Laerke has described the situation as a “complete meltdown of humanity.” A spokesmen for three rebel groups told the Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon that the cease-fire was back on and would go back into effect later Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, desperate citizens, journalists and activists have been sharing goodbye messages as government forces continue to close in on the last rebel-held pockets of the city. Activist Lina Shamy uploaded a video on Twitter from Aleppo, in which she said: “To everyone who can hear me, we are here exposed to a genocide in the besieged city of Aleppo. This may be my last video.”
In another video, posted by Salah Ashkar, something that sounds like bombing can be heard in the distance. “We are still here under siege,” he said. “There are a lot of children and people helpless. The world has to act now, please, please.” He later posted another clip begging viewers to “go to the U.N. headquarters and block the way. Please, don’t let them sleep. Do it now. There is no minute to spare.”
Journalist & documentary filmmaker Bilal Abdul Kareem posted what he said was “probably” his final message from eastern Aleppo, also on Twitter. “I am not coming to you at this time as a representative of On the Ground News, I am coming to you as an average person of besieged Aleppo. We may not be able to post any more messages… so this might be close to if not the last communication,” he said.
Teacher-turned-activist Abdulkafi Alhamdo streamed a video called ‘The last call from Aleppo’ live on Periscope. “I hope I can speak on Periscope to you again,” he said. “I really don’t know what to say but I hope you can do something for Aleppo people, for my daughter, for the other children.”
Seven-year-old Bana Alabed, whose eye-opening tweets about life in eastern Aleppo have captivated the world, wrote on Twitter that it was her “last moment to live or die.” She had posted a message the day before saying her father was injured and she was crying.
An activist in the besieged area spoke to Jared Malsin, TIME’s Middle East bureau chief over WhatsApp. “Our last scream from last free neighborhoods in Aleppo. The agreement has been broken. Hundreds of shell bombs fell on us… dire medical situation. No ambulance cars. People are dying in the streets,” he wrote.
Rami Zien, a Syrian journalist based in eastern Aleppo, tweeted goodbye on Dec. 12. “Thanks all who stand for us and pay for us. But it’s almost over and they are just hours away of killing us,” he wrote. Zien has continued to tweet in the 48-hour period that has passed since. His most recent message read: “Sorry everyone I am offline due to situation in Aleppo is extremely bad Every single meter being shelled.”
An English-speaking activist called Monther Etaky thanked those who stood up for the besieged citizens of Aleppo, telling them “I will never forget you.” Etaky, who describes himself as a “journalist, artist, graphic designer, media trainer and photographer” on Twitter has continued to tweet and upload videos since news of the failed ceasefire broke. In one of his most recent posts, sent on Dec. 13, Etaky said “We are facing mass executions and there are a lot of families, women and children living here who are afraid about what will happen if the city is captured.”
A journalist and student based in London thanked the Syrian citizens for staying to document what was happening in the city. “To those who stayed to document Aleppo and now send final goodbyes: thank you. You did more than your part, we didn’t do ours,” she tweeted.
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