Aleppo: Starved, Bombed, Gassed, Broken but not Defeated
The regime has finally broken the rebel defences in besieged eastern Aleppo and has retaken a third of the territory. Up to 20,000 people have fled from rebel held areas as the regime has moved in. Most of them headed to Kurdish controlled areas, hoping that they may be more accommodating than regime-held territories. However, with some social media reports of summary executions of refugees suspected of rebel tendencies, this was a forlorn hope. Kurdish controlled and regime controlled areas of Aleppo offer no difference with clear evidence of Kurdish forces conspiring with regime forces against the rebels. Many more than 20,000 have sought refuge in remaining rebel held areas. However, there is clear documented evidence of regime barbarity even against poor, distraught civilians trying to escape the war zone. At least 500 men have disappeared at the hands of Shia militias in the Masaka Hanano district. The whereabouts of these men are unknown and they have not been seen or heard from since the district was overrun. Unbelievably, the regime has also dropped thermobaric bombs on civilians trying to escape.
Thermobaric bombs use up virtually all the oxygen in the vicinity to generate a blast which has the intensity of heat second only to that of a nuclear bomb. The streets were littered with dead civilians caught in the blast of these bombs. According to one report:
“Aleppo’s streets [were] strewn with the bodies of men, women and children, many lying next to the suitcases they had packed to escape.”
Who on earth would do such a thing to defenceless men, women and children?
From a Muslim perspective, the plight of Aleppo’s civilians is clearly devastating and harrowing. However, we must remain patient and retain our optimism as we watch the unfolding events. We have faith in Allāh, and whatever He has destined will surely come to pass. Let us bear this with patience and pray for goodness.
As we are taught by our Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam),
“No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allāh expiates some of his sins for that.”
With this in mind, there are many positives that we can take from the experience of Aleppo and lessons which we have clearly learnt:
Firstly, we admire and salute the strength of conviction, patience and courage of the rebels and the inhabitants of eastern Aleppo. They have resisted with dignity and honour. The recent onslaught by the regime and the Russians has been nothing short of annihilation. However, they have continued to resist and have never once contemplated surrender or defeat, despite such overwhelming odds. In fact, news from Aleppo today confirms that the rebels have agreed a military alliance to better organise the military resistance.
Secondly, the Muslims of Aleppo now know that no one, no country and no world body has come to their rescue despite the world watching graphic news report after news report of Aleppo. Video appeals and children tweeting for help and support have all fallen on deaf ears. We now know that, as Muslims, we can be starved, gassed, bombed, shot, buried alive and dispossessed and no one will give us a second’s thought – not even our so-called Muslim leaders. Every single type of military ordinance in existence fell and continues to fall on eastern Aleppo yet no one was able to drop a single loaf of bread. In an age that professes human rights and international criminal laws, we, as Muslims, now know where we stand and we will never forget that these rights and laws simply do not apply to us.
Thirdly, we take satisfaction from the fact that, if and when the regime re-takes eastern Aleppo, as they did with Homs and Daraya, they will inherit a vast expanse of bombed out buildings and rubble whereas the martyrs of eastern Aleppo will be the inheritors of the Gardens of eternal bliss, safety and happiness, God willing.
The regime may take eastern Aleppo but they have done so with the help of Russia, Iran, Lebanon and countless militias. These other forces will not be around forever. How long, then, will Assad hold these territories without the help of his partners in crime?
Finally, the last point of personal satisfaction for me was a single moment from amongst all the desperate, bloody and graphic images and news reports coming from Aleppo. It was not bloody, did not involve death or any destruction. It was a news report showing some civilians trying to escape besieged eastern Aleppo. These were people who had endured over five years of war, four months of hunger during the siege, countless deaths and were now being overrun by regime fighters and were desperately fleeing their homes, carrying their worldly belongings on their backs with their children in tow. Amidst this vision of hell on Earth, there was one Muslim lady who was kneeling on the floor, on her prayer mat, offering her prayers. This ummati of our beloved Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) epitomised our Muslim brethren of Aleppo. Despite all the grief, suffering and pain this Muslim sister had endured, it was time for salāh and, as such, she was not going to forget her Lord. Subḥanallāh.
It is in these trying times that we should elevate our spiritual state by whatever means possible to gain proximity and favour with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). One way to do this is to follow the advice of our beloved Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) who encouraged the act of Nafl fast especially during the winter months.
‘[Seize] the easy reward, fasting in winter’.
It is in the state of sincere fast that our Lord All Merciful has declared He will accept our prayers.
Oh Allāh, strengthen the īmān of the Muslims of Shām.
Oh Allāh, we beseech You and turn to You for help for our brethren of Aleppo – as there is no help other than Your help.
Oh Allāh, grant the martyrs and the dispossessed of Shām the most beautiful dwellings in Jannatul Firdaus.
Oh Allāh, You state in the Glorious Qur’ān that “after hardship comes ease”. Please bestow ease and comfort now to our brothers and sisters of Shām and eastern Aleppo.
 ANALYSIS: The Kurdish ‘frenemies’ aiding Assad in Aleppo:
 Aleppo families fear for 500 men seized by forces loyal to Assad: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/29/residents-of-east-aleppo-fear-for-500-men-seized-by-forces-loyal-to-assad?CMP=share_btn_tw
 Bukhārī; Narrated by Abū Sa’id Al-Khudri and Abū Huraira
 Aleppo rebels hope to reverse fortunes with new alliance:
 عن عامر بن مسعود عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: قال: الغنيمة الباردة: الصوم في الشتاء. (الترمذي)
Mukhtar Master has a BSc (Hons) in Business Information Technology and has worked in Local Government as a manager for over 20 years. He has been active for many years in the local political scene and also the anti-war movement in the UK.