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Syrian President Assad visited Aleppo for the first time in years. He reopened a power plant damaged by the civil war and visited the historic market and a famous mosque.
After the violent uprising against the president erupted in 2011, Aleppo was a stronghold of the opposition for many years. However, in December 2016, the city completely fell into the hands of government forces when heavy resistance broke through thanks to Russian aid. The civil war has claimed hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives.
Assad inaugurated a reconstructed power station in the city damaged in the fighting. The photos published by the regime also showed that he was walking around the city with his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Aleppo was once the commercial center of the country, with a population greater than that of the capital, Damascus. Parts of the area of the same name remain in opposition hands.
Assad’s visit comes on the day Russia vetoed the extension of the UN aid mission in the northwest of the country in the Security Council. The country has not agreed to a one-year extension to transfer aid to 4 million people from Turkey.
Moscow considers this a violation of Syrian sovereignty and calls for more aid convoys from Syria itself. Western countries fear that Assad will then be able to wield more influence over helping opponents.
Russia proposed a six-month settlement, but it was not adopted by the Security Council, because aid organizations consider this a period of time too short to arrange proper assistance. Only China voted in favor of this with Russia.
People will die because of this mood.
Initially, humanitarian aid was delivered from Iraq and Jordan and from two places in Turkey to the areas controlled by the Syrian opposition forces. Over the years, vetoes from China and Russia have reduced this to a single point in Bab al-Hawa, Turkey, an hour’s drive west of Aleppo.
The UN mandate ends tomorrow and emergency aid transfers from Turkey will stop. It is not clear whether a compromise can still be reached before then.
The United States warned that “people are going to die from this vote.” Emergency aid is needed more than ever, due to drought in the region, fuel shortages and food shortages due to the war in Ukraine.
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