Article from the Vatican’s Pontifical Missions News Service, Fides
In recent days, the signals of a possible, forthcoming offensive of the Syrian government seeking to recapture areas held by the rebels in the urban area of Aleppo, in the north of the Country are increasing. There are growing rumors that in the areas of Aleppo under government control, elite military teams seem to have already arrived accompanied by Hezbollah militiamen, the Lebanese Shiite party.
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo SJ, tells Fides Agency: "In recent days there have been fewer rocket attacks. This may suggest the calm before the storm. Everyone says that, when it happens, the battle in Aleppo will be the 'final battle'. But we do not know yet what it will mean for us all. There is widespread expectation of a release, there is the hope of being freed from the war of position which has divided the city for almost two years. But there is also the fear that all areas are appalled by the bombing, or reprisals carried out by the rebels. Or even the fear of ending up like in Mosul. Everyone senses, albeit vaguely, that what is happening here is not a local issue, but it is conditioned by regional and global power clashes".
In this climate, marked by conflicting feelings, the effort to move forward and find a way to meet the most basic needs prevails: "Even now there is no water", refers to Fides the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, "We have reopened the wells in churches and mosques to help the population. We continue to carry out assistance programs with volunteers of Caritas. People are exhausted. And we do what we can do".
Since July 2012 Aleppo has been divided between the western sectors, controlled by the government army, and the areas of the eastern part, in the hands of the rebels. In recent days, the regime media reported that Assad's army has regained control of the industrial area in the north of the city. In the face of the new advance of government troops, some spokesmen of the rebel factions have accused the regime in Damascus and the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to be allies and aim at dividing the territories released from the control of other anti-Assad forces. ISIL fighters have taken over large portions of the territory in Syria and Iraq, where they have proclaimed the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate. Original article here