A child standing amid debris on a street in Aleppo. (file) Photo: OCHA/Romenzi

A Mass Atrocity is Underway in Aleppo and There is No Indication that It Can Be Stopped

According to the latest reports, the last pockets of resistance are now completely encircled. A ceasefire agreement that would enable both combatants and non-combatants to exit the city seems to have broken down– Iranian proxies on the ground are preventing trapped people from leaving the besieged city. Some 30,000 to 60,000 people are trapped. Shelling has resumed.

Now, there are reports that the final enclaves of rebel held Aleppo are free-fire zones. The only forces that can stop the slaughter on the ground are Russia, Syria and Iran but they seem more willing to indiscriminately kill the anyone left in the city then let them flee.

Here is Samantha Power at the United Nations yesterday.


Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo. To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran, your forces and proxies are carrying out these crimes. Your barrel bombs and mortars and airstrikes have allowed the militia in Aleppo to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in your ever-tightening noose. It is your noose. Three Member States of the UN contributing to a noose around civilians. It should shame you. Instead, by all appearances, it is emboldening you. You are plotting your next assault. Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?

It would appear the answers to these questions are: “No,” “no,” “no” and “no.”

And the sad fact is, there is precious little the international community can do absent the cooperation of Iran, Syria and Russia, In her remarks, Samantha Power seemed to acknowledge as much and took the rather unusual step of directly appealing to the public to pressure this troika of destruction.

This is why it is so essential that each of us right here – no matter how small a country you are, no matter what your view of sovereignty, if you share our view that terrorism is one of the singular causes on earth worth fighting, it doesn’t matter – you have a responsibility to denounce these atrocities. We have just heard the Secretary-General state it plainly. You have to tell those responsible that they must stop. This isn’t the time for more equivocation, for self-censoring, for avoiding naming names, for diplomatic niceties of the kind that are so well-practiced here on the Council. Say who is responsible. Appeal to Moscow, to Damascus, to Tehran, that they have to stop. Use every channel you have – public, private, bankshot, through someone who knows someone.

When the US Ambassador to the UN resorts to imploring her colleagues to ask “someone who knows someone” to stop an ongoing mass atrocity, chances are it will not end soon.