The message to Aleppo’s residents has the precision of an assassin. Printed on thin pieces of paper and airdropped over the city, it reads: “Leave, or be annihilated.”
Last week, forces allied to the Syrian regime launched one of the bloodiest offensives in the country’s six-year long war. In Aleppo – once heralded as the “capital of the revolution” – they aim to deal a decisive defeat to opposition fighters who have controlled the city since the summer of 2012, when the previous year’s protest movement reached its height and transformed into an armed revolt.
In doing so, the regime’s escalation has dramatically intensified the violence – killing at least 800 civilians since November alone. In the besieged rebel neighbourhoods of east Aleppo the dead and injured have been pouring in so quickly that medics have been unable to keep count.
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