Russian and Syrian warplanes dropped food parcels on rebel-held, eastern districts of Aleppo city on Thursday, after distributing pamphlets delineating four “humanitarian corridors” through which civilians could leave the city as part of a “large humanitarian effort to help civilians,” according to the Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Soygu.
“A food parcel fell on the roof of my house,” Murad al-Halabi, a resident of the Salah al-Din district of Aleppo, told the Syrian Voice.
“It was a plastic bag that contained 200 grams of jam, a toothbrush, a diaper, a packet of tea, and a packet of sugar the size of a finger,” he said.
“There were no more than 1,000 meals total, given to 350,000 civilians living under siege in Aleppo. This is proof that the humanitarian operation is no more than a media campaign, a component of the psychological warfare that the Syrian regime and Russia are waging against civilians in Aleppo city,” said al-Halabi.
“They say to the international community that they’re concerned with humanitarian affairs. It’s as if they weren’t the ones who killed civilians whose blood hasn’t yet dried, and as if the destroyed homes weren’t blown up by their planes!”
Waseem al-Khatib, a resident from the neighborhood of al-Salihin, told the Syrian Voice that “most civilians were afraid the food parcels were poisoned, so they burned them.”
“They don’t trust the Russians or the regime, who used phosphorous bombs and chemical weapons on Syrians in Aleppo without regard for the lives of civilians or children,” said al-Khatib.
The Russian humanitarian operation also entailed opening four humanitarian corridors supposed to provide civilians with safe passage from rebel-held, besieged areas into regime territory. Three of these corridors led towards regime-controlled areas of Aleppo city, and the fourth towards the southern countryside by way of al-Hadhir village.
But these humanitarian corridors were never opened, and appear to be purely for media consumption.
“They won’t, and will not be implemented on the ground,” Mohammed al-Mohammed, a local humanitarian activist, told the Syrian Voice.
“It’s just a way for Russia and the regime to cover up their human rights violations against the residents of Aleppo city. It portends a terrible crime against civilians in the coming days,” he said.
“We didn’t leave our city despite dozens of airstrikes and continuous bombing, and will not allow ourselves to be expelled from our homes…we’re staying put.”
The siege on rebel-held areas of Aleppo became more severe on Tuesday after regime forces captured the Castelo road, the last corridor into opposition-held neighborhoods inside the city.
Food prices began to rise 48 hours after the Castello road was severed.
“A bag of bread went up to SP 300, whereas it goes for SP 200 in other opposition-controlled areas across Syria. A kilogram of sugar reached SP 700, while it had been SP 500, whereas a kg of tomatoes rose from SP 250 to SP 700,” Mumtaz Abu Mohammed, a local media activist, told the Syrian Voice.
Bashar Hawi, spokesman for the Aleppo City Local Council, told the Syrian Voice that “fuel prices have begun to rise, as well as flour…the local council’s monitoring committee sent out monitoring teams to hold shop owners accountable, keep prices low, and hand over those who don’t to the judiciary.”
“We took some immediate steps to get control of this crisis, including planting vegetables like tomatoes, and potatoes, in public and private gardens, and we’ve started searching for additional fertile land inside the city.”
Human Rights Watch announced on Thursday that it had documented 47 cases since May 27 of the Syrian regime and Russian army using internationally-prohibited weapons against rebel-held areas in three provinces, primarily Aleppo.