Fighting resumed in rebel-held east Aleppo on Saturday (22 October) following the end of a unilateral three-day ceasefire announced by Russia. Western media outlets, with their focus on the rebel-held areas, continue to present a largely one-sided picture of events, so the suffering in the streets of the government-held areas tends to be overlooked. This includes the Christian quarter where three people were killed by a rocket on 16 October and two injured. The situation has been calm since 17 October, although rebel rockets without explosives have been landing nearby and Christians anticipate further rebel attacks on their own part of the city.
A church leader in Aleppo emailed Barnabas Aid on Monday (24 October) saying, “The Christian quarters are now under severe threat by the Nusrat [Nusra Front] and rebels supported by Turks to show us the stars in the midst of the day.”
The relative silence of the Western media over the situation in the government-held areas of Aleppo extends to the government’s provision of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held eastern region, where tons of milk, vegetables, canned food, wheat and bread have been distributed in the last few days.
Eight corridors were opened by the government during the recent ceasefire – six for civilians and two for the rebels. It was hoped this would provide an opportunity for people to escape from the rebel-held eastern part of the city. However, this has proved a difficult task. Rebel groups are preventing people from getting into the government-held areas, even attempting to shoot them. “Unfortunately – your media is totally silent and nothing mentioning of this,” commented the Aleppo church leader.
Immense suffering has been caused in the rebel-held region where, according to UN estimates, over 250,000 people currently live. It is right that attention is drawn to this. But there is a tendency for the Western media to tell only part of the story, implying that the government-held region, which houses at least 1.2 million people, is largely unaffected when this is simply not the case. Throughout the Middle East the Christian presence is coming under increasing threat, including in Aleppo. Christians in the war-torn city, who mainly live immediately to the west of the rebel-held eastern section, have already encountered much suffering and there is still no sign that it will cease anytime soon.