Photo credit: Getty Images

The different eyes viewing Aleppo

When the media tells us different things, what should we believe?

Anisah Azmi

Published: 16 December 2016, 3:34 PM

Earlier this week, the world watched as Syrians in besieged Eastern Aleppo posted their final goodbyes on social media.

Since the Syrian civil war began five years ago, an estimated 11 million Syrians were forced to flee their homes while nearly half a million civilians were killed.

Like many others in Singapore and around the world, I was absolutely mortified at the atrocities happening in Aleppo. I watched videos of Syrians and independent journalists in the ancient metropolis stating their farewells as bombs were dropped around their vicinity.

Many of these videos expressed solidarity with the Syrian revolution and supported the rebels holding East Aleppo before the Syrian Arab army managed to take control.

I had meant to write a letter addressed to the people of Aleppo. To send my heart out to the innocent people that have been reduced as pawns in a political game they so desperately want to escape.


A drone footage of rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Sept 27, 2016 .
Photo credit: Reuters


However, as I delved deeper into understanding the civil war and the battle of Aleppo, I found myself confused and overwhelmed.

Why? Because conflicting reports from different news outlets made me question something that is fundamental in journalism – is anything I am reading true?

While what is happening in Syria is no doubt a humanitarian crisis on the largest scale, it begs the question: who is responsible?

Major news outlets such as CNN and Al-Jazeera are pointing fingers at Bashar Al-Assad, the elected president of Syria, and Russian forces for causing the deaths of Syrians and the destruction of their homes.

On the other hand, RT News aired videos of citizens in Aleppo celebrating, seemingly happy that the Syrian military liberated them from rebel or terrorist held territories. They claim that the majority of Syrians support the Assad regime. After all, they did vote for their president.

In addition, many are questioning the legitimacy of the “final goodbyes” posted online.


The ‘Final Goodbye’ from a young girl in East Aleppo.
Image credit: Screenshot from Twitter


Are these people really stuck in the middle of Aleppo, threatened by immediate danger? Or was it just a “social media campaign” for them to bring forth their desired messages?

Despite the surge in news reports about Aleppo, the circumstances of these people on social media remain a mystery. Each news outlet has their own biases and agendas, which is an injustice to the people who are very much affected by the civil war.

As I ponder on these reports, I realised one very important thing. While there is a discourse about who is on the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ side, war crimes and atrocities are still being committed against the Syrian people.

Innocent civilians are still being forced to flee their homes, and parents are burying their children and children are being orphaned. Chemical weapons are being used. Landmarks, hospitals and homes are on the edge of disintegration.

The beautiful Syria, full of life, culture and ancient history, has been destroyed, all in the name of selfish political and economic gain.


A walkway in the great mosque in Aleppo before and after the civil war.
Photo credit: AFP


There is still a future for Syrians everywhere.
Photo credit: AFP


In all the chaos and confusion, one thing remains true – we must stand in solidarity with our Syrian brothers and sisters. We must demand for their safety and their well-being.

While I believe we should allow them to seek asylum anywhere away from danger, we must continue fight for a peaceful Syria. We must never let them be forgotten.

My heart and soul wants to reach out to Syria and its people, but like many others, I ask one question – how can we help?

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