Syrian rebels in Aleppo have finally surrendered to the government after four years of war and destruction. In their desperation and amid reports of mass executions, residents go online for who knows would be the last time.
Australia's News.com.au published messages from Aleppo posted on social media showing how the people there feared the repercussions of the rebellion and how their lives may end as the government led by President Bashar Al-Assad takes over what used to be Syria's largest city.
@Linashamy tweeted on Monday, "This may be my last video. More than 50,000 of civilians who rebelled against the dictator, al-Assad, are threatened with field executions or dying under bombing."
An aid worker, identified only as Omar, shared a recorded message on WhatsApp saying, "This is the last space. I hope you can remember us...The government forces are at the end of the street. Forgive us."
Seven-year-old Bana Alabed tweeted, "My name is Bana, I'm 7 years old. I am talking to the world now live from East #Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die. - Bana" (5:06 PM - 13 Dec 2016)
@Mr_Alhamdo sent several tweets saying, "I might tweet now but I cannot do it forever. Please save my daughter's life and others. This is a call from a father," and "the last message. Thanks for everything. we shared many moments. The last tweets are from an emotional father. Farewell, #Aleppo"
Other messages called for help and decried the world's silence over what has been called a "humanitarian disaster" and "a complete meltdown of humanity." While these messages pleaded for rescue, they also asked why the world has been silent about Aleppo, even if the conflict has been documented well online and in news outlets, and has been a common topic in social media.
The 28-year-old graphic designer and activist, Monther Etaky, told the Associated Press right before the rebel-government accord was reached, "There is a problem with this planet. This planet doesn't want people to live as free or to live as humans...Yesterday when I was saying the last goodbyes, this was the first time I was affected because it was the last time." He also pointed out that it was the world's silence about Aleppo that was the most painful.
The Telegraph News quoted Etaky saying, "In other massacres and in other wars, like Srebrenica, they can perhaps claim they did not know. They cannot claim that here. We have documented every war crime, every chemical attack. This was happening in real time in front of the eyes of the world...But still they did nothing."
International aid organizations like the British Red Cross, the White Helmets, Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee have been sending rescuers to Aleppo, according to the Huffington Post. However, this has not been enough to help the residents. These organizations have also called for the cessation of fighting so that their efforts can be allowed on site.
UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville said, "We're filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner...The reports we had are of people being shot in the street trying to flee and shot in their homes."
Close to a hundred casualties have been reported, including women and children, and an entire family executed in their home in the Bustan al-Qasr after they refused to leave. There are also reports that people are being killed in the streets as they flee, while more than 6,000 men and boys are missing since November after crossing from Aleppo into the government-held side of the city.