The last 'call' from Aleppo
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Teacher Abdulkafi Alhamdo has made his last call from Aleppo. As Russian and Syrian forces closed in on the last parts of the city still in rebel hands on Tuesday morning, Alhamdo delivered a final message to his viewers on Periscope, Twitter’s livestreaming service.
In the pouring rain, sheltering in an alley, he explained that militias backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were just 300 metres away. “There’s no place now to go. It’s the last place,” he said. “Really I don’t know what to say. I hope you can do something for Aleppo’s people, for my daughter, for the other children. I don’t know what to say.”
After a pause, Alhamdo suggested that people outside Syria can do something – take to the streets and demand an end to the killing.
He had made a similar appeal in a telephone conversation with former Observers journalist Peggy Bruguière on Monday.
But by Tuesday morning – after the building next to his collapsed, killing many of its residents - he was not optimistic. “Don’t believe any more in the United Nations. Don’t believe any more in the international community,” he told his viewers.
The massive offensive launched Nov. 15 by the Syrian army and its allies has succeeded in capturing almost all of eastern Aleppo. The city was divided for four years, with the west controlled by the government and the east by various rebel factions. But by Dec. 12, only a sliver of eastern Aleppo – the neighborhoods of Seif Al-Daoula and Al-Ansari - was still in opposition hands, with the Syrian army saying it could announce a final victory at any moment.
"I hope you remember us"
Alhamdo, an English teacher, had been broadcasting on Periscope for two months, offering regular updates of life in the city for his young family. He signed off by asking his viewers not to forget his city.
Russia doesn’t want us to get out alive. They want us dead. Assad is the same. Yesterday there were many celebrations in the other part of Aleppo. They were celebrating on our bodies.
At least we know that we were a free people. We wanted freedom. We didn’t want anything else but freedom. You know? This world doesn’t like freedom, it seems….
I hope you remember us. Thank you very much.
Civilians caught inside rebel areas of Aleppo have few choices. Fleeing to the pro-government west is not one of them. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters on Tuesday there were reports that 82 civilians had been killed by pro-government forces the previous day – among them 11 women and 13 children.
Alhamdo was one of several civilians issuing final appeals from east Aleppo on Tuesday.