33 of the Day: Hell in Aleppo
The bombings at night are the worst. There is no electricity in the rebel-held portion of eastern Aleppo, and the warplanes flying overhead target any light piercing the blackness beneath.
So families huddle together in the dark, gathered in one room so that they don’t die alone, listening to the roar of the jets and waiting for the bombs to fall.
After they do, rescue workers venture out, navigating the rubble and craters left by earlier bombings, to dig out victims without headlights or lamps. They haul them to hospitals swamped with patients being treated on the floor by doctors who barely sleep and must choose which lives to save and which to let go.
In the small hours of Wednesday morning, it was the turn of two hospitals to be hit in the dark. The hospitals, the two biggest in eastern Aleppo, were struck by bombs shortly after 3:30 a.m., killing two patients and putting the buildings out of use for the victims of more bombings later in the day.
Such is the tenor of life in rebel-held Aleppo, which had become accustomed to regular airstrikes in the four years since rebels seized control of the eastern portion of the city — but nothing like the intensity of the past week.
The collapse of a U.S.- and Russian-sponsored cease-fire on Sept. 19 was followed by the launch of a Syrian government offensive, backed by Russian airstrikes, to recapture the neighborhoods held by the rebels.
The operation heralded what residents, doctors and medical workers describe as the most ferocious bombardments yet.
At least 1,700 bombs struck eastern Aleppo in the first week after the cease-fire’s collapse, according to the White Helmets civil defense group, a volunteer force funded by the United States and Europe that goes to the aid of people buried by buildings collapsed by bombs. Still, they keep raining down, with new bunker-buster bombs designed to be
used against military installations blasting apartment buildings that house families.