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[If you are reading this on email, mobile device or tablet, for MUCH better viewing with all features, please, click on the title of this piece thus allowing full-screen viewing.]

A small confessional: Today I am more affected by these matters than normal, and for reasons to be discussed another day.

For those who may be unaware, as a city or indeed a metropolis, Aleppo, Syria, likely dates back some eight thousand (8,000) years, or, say, 6,000 B.C., making it one of the most continuously-inhabited cities on the planet.

aleppo-map-syria-600-25-jul-2016

Indeed, it was only upon the construction of the Suez Canal that Aleppo began to decline, or since there was now a cheaper water route to the Far East, not just overland.

As a crossroads of all trails and cultures, unsurprisingly, Aleppo has always been a place for polyglots, and indeed one of the very few places in the Middle east where Aramaic speakers could be found.

Yes, that Aramaic, the very language which is believed to have been spoken by Jesus Christ.

From its great wall and city gates to the souks or small shops of Aleppo, the war’s toll is  evident.

aleppo_and_the_citadel

The Citadel, before the war, above, and after, below.

Note this is a great illusion, or as I call it.   The ‘Citadel’ of Aleppo , e.g., medieval fortified palace, offers and interesting optical illusion.

If one rotates the photo, above, 180 degrees, the “hill” becomes “hole”, as below.

aleppocitadelasmirrorimagehole

aleppogardenbeforeafterwar

The central part of Aleppo

alepposhopinsoukb4war

What a typical shop in the souk would look like before the war.

alepposouksb4andafterwar

A side by side comparison using another shop, then and now

Reports from Aleppo, however, are not ‘illusional’, at all.  Indeed, they may be all too many glimpses what may become the Worst of the Worst.

One vivid piece of tape brings to mind the world of at least one Syrian-American, Samer Attar, M.D., who is on staff at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.

Dr. Attar journeys back and forth from Chicago to Aleppo doing what he can to assist the medical Fates of his fellow countrymen.

Unfortunately, since Dr. Attar made that tape, those Fates have been most unkind to Aleppo and her people, but especially to the children, always the very worst-affected victims in any war going back to the very beginning of time, even as long-measured in ancient Aleppo.

Last month, the more civilized world was again shocked by a lad who has, perhaps, become ‘the’ symbol of Aleppo.

aleppoboypulledfromrubble

“A photograph of a boy sitting dazed and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after surviving a regime airstrike in Aleppo has highlighted the desperation of the Syrian civil war and the struggle for control of the city.

“The child has been identified as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was injured late on Wednesday in a military strike on the rebel-held Qaterji neighbourhood.

“The startling image shows him covered head to toe with dust and so disoriented that he seems barely aware of an open wound on his forehead. He was taken to a hospital known as M10 and later discharged.

“The image is a still from a video filmed and circulated by the Aleppo Media Centre. The anti-government activist group has been contacted to confirm details about when and where the footage was shot. The group posted the clip to YouTube late on Wednesday, shortly after Omran was injured…..

“Omran was rescued with his three siblings, aged one, six, and 11, and his mother and father, according to Raslan. None sustained major injuries, but their apartment building collapsed shortly after the family was rescued.

“We sent the younger children immediately to the ambulance, but the 11-year-old girl waited for her mother to be rescued. Her ankle was pinned beneath the rubble,” Raslan said.

“A doctor at M10 said eight people had died in the airstrike, including five children. Doctors in Aleppo use codenames for hospitals, which they say have been systematically targeted by government airstrikes.

“On Tuesday, Russia launched airstrikes in Aleppo and two other provinces from a base in western Iran, the main regional ally of the Assad regime.

“The horror generated by the image of Omran echoes the anguished global response to pictures of Aylan Kurdi**, the drowned Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey. Those pictures came to encapsulate the horrific toll of Syria’s civil war.

All this said, this may be the worst I have yet to see.

Since this is from the BBC, please click on the link to view this video:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37501589

And to think the Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States, Gov. Gary Johnson, had no clue what Aleppo‘ was.

Perhaps he should ask this very young lad, who ought never to be be anywhere near such indiscriminate barbarism and which took his uncle-provider away, what it is all about?

aleppoboycriesnexttodeadbodyofrelative

[A Syrian boy is comforted as he cries next to the body of a relative who died in a reported airstrike on April 27, 2016 in the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Soukour in the northern city of Aleppo.]

Then again, it seems that unlike Omran, it is the children who are most at risk, and whose undernourished tiny bodies have no extra strength

img_0520

img_0522img_0521

No child should ever die like this baby, above.  As much as anything, this particular photo reminds one of the victims of Pompeii’s eruption in A.D.79, but these are not victims of a natural disaster.

One looks,  and then, looks away.  Just like the world.

Governor Johnson and that grotesque insularity on his part remind me of Mark Twain’s famously wry, but, now, sadly accurate sizzler:

“God created war so that Americans could learn geography”.

Apparently, some didn’t, or, yet haven’t.

But, I’m still fixated not only on wee Omran, but also on the BBC’s graphic report of the child who was shot and took that bullet in his back.

“God Bless The Child”

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
God bless the child who suffers
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
God bless the young without mothers
This child is homeless,
That child’s on crack
One plays with a gun,
while the other takes a bullet in his back
This boy’s a beggar,
That girl sells her soul
They both work the same street,
The same hell hole

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
God bless the child who suffers
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Let every man help his brother

Some are born addicted and some are just thrown away
Some have daddies who make them play games they don’t want to play

But with hope and faith
We must understand
All God’s children need is love
And us to hold their little hands

This boy is hungry, he ain’t got enought to eat
That girl’s cold and she ain’t got no shoes on her feet

When a child’s spirit’s broken
And feels all hope is gone
God help them find the strength to carry on

But with hope and faith
Yea, we can understand
All God’s children need is love
And us to hold their little hands

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Let us all love one another
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Make all our hearts blind to color
Hallelujah, hallelujah
God bless the child who suffers

Is it too much to wish that every wee child in Aleppo will still have both parents to take hold of his or her hands?

—###—

Hat Tips:  

**For my previous comments about Aylan Kurdi, the now thankfully identified wee lad washed up on a lonely beach, see Little Waves, with Their Soft White Handshttps://scottbrownscerebralcaffeine.com/2015/09/03/little-waves-with-their-soft-white-hands/

One of Dr. Attar’s unvarnished reports, written for The New England Journal of Medicine and yet fully understandable by lay readers, is here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMp1603673

The Guardian (London): https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/18/boy-in-the-ambulance-image-emerges-syrian-child-aleppo-rubble

British Broadcasting Company (BBC), London.

Miss Shania Twain

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Samuel Clemens Society and The Mark Twain House and Museum

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