The Aleppo Exodus: ‘Leaving In Tears But We’ll Be Back’

As they depart Aleppo, families, rebels and activists bid farewell to the city

Men from eastern Aleppo reportedly lined up to begin their military service — REUTERS
Dec 15, 2016 at 6:52 AM ET

As day broke over the city of Aleppo on Thursday, thousands of residents, rebels and families began evacuating their wounded, closing their shops and trudging towards buses that would take them to the western part of the city where Syrian government forces were waiting.

Locals posted videos and images online of people gathering, readying to leave the city that has endured five years of war. Ambulances belonging to the Red Crescent began transporting wounded people from the city. One doctor, Hamza al-Khatib from Aleppo’s Quds Hospital said that some 15 of the injured were in critical condition.

Syrian activists claimed that militants from Lebanese Hezbollah opened fire at ambulances carried wounded people near al-Ramouseh south of Aleppo and killed one person. Users uploaded images allegedly showing victims from the shooting and blamed the United Nations and Red Crescent for not doing more to help the wounded.

Among the videos was one of a shopkeeper spraypainting the shuttered door of his store, writing “Aleppo, we will be back.” “We are the rebels of Aleppo, this is our land,” he said. “We will be back despite the will of the Shiites, Russia and Iran. We leave in tears, but we will be back soon.”

The exodus will mark the end of more than four years of fighting in Aleppo, once a Syrian economic hub that also was the nerve center for much of the rebel activity throughout the conflict. It is the biggest military blow to the armed opposition since the war began.