In Syria, Residents Of War-Ravaged Aleppo Are Without Running Water

Aug 10, 2016
Originally published on August 10, 2016 8:01 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And Syria's largest city, Aleppo, divided by war, appears to have now reached a new level of misery. The United Nations says Aleppo's water pumping stations are without fuel, and the U.N.'s asking the warring sides to declare a truce. NPR's Alison Meuse reports from Beirut.

ALISON MEUSE, BYLINE: In Aleppo, battle lines have scarcely shifted since rebels took half the city four years ago. Syrian troops and their allies control the west. A range of Islamist rebel factions, including U.S.-backed groups, hold the east. But fighting has reached an intensity not seen in months. And for the first time, the warring sides have simultaneously strangled one another's neighborhoods, putting all 2 million residents under de facto siege.

The city's water stations, located on the rebel side, are out of power, and everyone's taps are dry. The U.N. says Aleppo civilians are now united in their misery and has urged an immediate cease-fire to make repairs. But the warring sides are undeterred. That's because two weeks ago, a rebel coalition, including a former al-Qaida affiliate, vowed to overrun the entire city. A video published by one of the rebel factions purports to show recent fighting. Opposition activist Hussein Nasser says the Aleppo battle was long in the making.

HUSSEIN NASSER: (Speaking Arabic).

MEUSE: "It will be an epic battle for the history books," he says, "like a second Stalingrad." Nasser says taking Aleppo means stopping the regime's economic engine, though rebel forces gutted most of the factories long ago. As for Assad, he's vowed Aleppo will be the graveyard of the armed opposition. Civilians see no end to the daily misery in sight. Reached by internet call, a resident on the government side tells me he's had no water for 10 days. He doesn't give his name, but he says the battle of Aleppo just won't end. Alison Meuse, NPR News, Beirut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.