Kenan Rahmani, a Syrian-American activist, spent the better part of November in Idlib, Syria’s northwest province, which is also under constant Russian bombardment. In the town of Maarat al-Noman, he says “they bombed half a kilometer from where I was, killing three children in a school. The residents in Maarat al-Noman had gotten used to the barrel bombs,” he says, referring to metal canisters filled with shrapnel and explosives dropped from Syrian helicopters. “But these were more limited in their scale of destruction. The Russians destroy more buildings and raise the stakes for Syrians to stay alive inside. But it’s the same form of collective punishment. If you want to live in opposition areas, these are the consequences.”
The sorties in Aleppo have been especially bad in the last ten days. Whereas earlier in the month, the city would sustain three to four airstrikes a day, now it’s taking up to 20, round the clock, with a dozen or so at night. That’s another signature of Russia’s air war. Assad’s planes used to only attack during daylight hours; Putin’s attack round the clock.
The Russian jets don’t just come around just once, drop their payloads, and leave. According to Jarrah, they sometimes return multiple times to same location, often hitting first responders from the so-called Civil Defense or White Helmets, who are pulling victims from the rubble of the previous sortie. These include women and children, as captured in ANA Press’s video footage.
On Dec. 15, Russian warplanes bombed Mash’had market in an area called Saif al-Dawla, a central marketplace in Aleppo. (ANA Press published footage of the aftermath, viewable here.) “Ten meters to the right and the missile would have landed inside the market, killing 200 or 300 people,” Jarrah says. “The attacks are not that precise.”