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On Syria's Newest Battleground: The Rebels' View
Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 11:43 am
SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:
For more on what's happening on the ground in the Syrian city of Aleppo, we reached Abdul Rahman Abu Hothyfa. Throughout the conflict in Syria, he has been the spokesperson for an administrative organization called the Union of Coordinators of Aleppo. I asked him who makes up that group.
ABDUL RAHMAN ABU HOTHYFA: We represent a large sector of the people on the ground. We are like the - a group of young people and activists. So whatever new accident or something happens, we (unintelligible) each other.
STAMBERG: How do you communicate with one another?
HOTHYFA: Mostly on Skype.
STAMBERG: And tell us what is happening on the ground in Aleppo.
HOTHYFA: Yes. Now, there are now 150 security forces members are surrounded by the Free Syrian Army in the justice court.
STAMBERG: What about wounded? How many of those do you have?
HOTHYFA: Actually, we don't have, like, exact numbers for the wounded because every day you have 50 and 60 people wounded, at least. But now, there are more than 20,000 in - like, in just Aleppo and its countryside.
STAMBERG: And what about numbers of the dead, do you have those or some estimate that might be accurate?
HOTHYFA: We have, like, the whole number of the Syrian killed people. It's now near 25,000. But now, the problem is about the detainees. Every day, the regime kills five to 10 people from the detainees and they throw them to the street.
STAMBERG: You say that they are killing members of opposition whom they have detained.
HOTHYFA: Yes, yes. And what we saw on the last day, many people their hands were tied and they were shot in the head and thrown on the street, off of the streets or in cars or whatever.
STAMBERG: How do you know that, sir? How are you able to see that?
HOTHYFA: Because the neighbors and the friends of the people, they come to the courts and they know that this man was detained, and suddenly he is dead and tied.
STAMBERG: So you're hearing reports from people who live near the areas where this reported slaughter is taking place. Is that it?
HOTHYFA: Yes, yes.
STAMBERG: What about the women and the children of Aleppo? What has happened to them? What is their situation?
HOTHYFA: Actually, most of the regions that are bombarded, the people, the children, they left and some of them went to schools and some of them went to the countryside and some of them went outside Syria.
STAMBERG: But there are still civilians living in Aleppo?
HOTHYFA: Of course, many of them. They are hundred of thousands.
STAMBERG: And what about food? Is there enough food?
HOTHYFA: Actually, in the eastern side of the city, the food is very rare and there are people who can't get even bread. And now, the (unintelligible) they're trying to provide them with the basic needs.
STAMBERG: Why is it worse in the eastern side of the city?
HOTHYFA: Because the regime has stopped providing the eastern side with the wheat, with the food, with the bread as the Free Syrian Army was stronger on the east side.
STAMBERG: So where is food coming from then? Where do you get it and what kind do you have?
HOTHYFA: There are many traders, merchants who provide people now with food and the Free Syrian Army now they are trying to open the market and trying to organize people so they can provide the region they are in with food and will all the basic needs.
STAMBERG: Thank you very much.
HOTHYFA: Thanks a lot.
STAMBERG: Abdul Rahman Abu Hothyfa, a spokesperson for the Union of Aleppo Coordinators, a rebel group. He spoke on his cell phone near Aleppo. On the ground description, it is difficult to corroborate what he said from here, but what he said is consistent with other accounts. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.