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'It Is Our Soul': The Destruction of Aleppo, Syria's Oldest City

By The Atlantic

October 05, 2012  -- Warfare and chaos have come to the ancient streets of Aleppo, Syria's largest city. Rebel groups battling Syrian government forces moved into the metropolis in recent weeks. Fierce street battles and air attacks followed, leaving behind a shattered city, strewn with charred rubble and bodies in many places.

A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son near Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, Syria, on October 3, 2012. Three suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives in a government-controlled area of the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 34 people, leveling buildings and trapping survivors under the rubble, state TV said. More than 120 people were injured, the government said. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
 
Smoke billows from a burning textile factory after a nearby position held by Syrian rebels was shelled by regime forces in the neighborhood of Arqub in the northern city of Aleppo, on September 30, 2012. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shelled rebel-held areas across Syria as fierce clashes were reported in second city Aleppo where a fire tore through a medieval souk. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A Syrian Air Force fighter jet drops bombs on the El Edaa district of Syria's northwestern city of Aleppo, on September 1, 2012. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal) #
 
Syrian security officers gather in front of destroyed buildings where triple bombs exploded at the Saadallah al-Jabri square, in Aleppo city, on October 3, 2012. (AP Photo/SANA) #
 
Fighters with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) speak with government forces nearby, as they hide behind shutters in an apartment in the Seif al-Dawla neighborhood of Aleppo, on September 11, 2012. Snipers took positions on rooftops and strategic places in Aleppo's old city, preventing government soldiers from approaching rebel-controlled areas. (Zac Baillie/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A survivor of a strike by Syrian regime forces, outside a hospital as he arrives to be treated for his wounds in the Sheikh Fares district of Aleppo, on September 18, 2012. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A Syrian man holds his robe while walking in the partially destroyed Salaheddin neighborhood of Aleppo, under the control of the Syrian army, on September 3, 2012. Syrian troops backed by artillery and warplanes fought rebels on multiple fronts on September 5 as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi described the death toll as "staggering" and destruction "catastrophic." (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
An FSA soldier poses in the Izaa district of Aleppo, on September 9, 2012. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo) #
 





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Syrian government forces look at bodies of alleged rebel fighters in a ditch beside a road leading to Aleppo's airport, after they were killed by Syrian government forces on October 2, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A member of Syria's government forces gestures near the partially destroyed entrance of Aleppo's historical citadel, on September 4, 2012. The citadel is regarded as one of the oldest and largest castles in the world, in use for more than 4,000 years. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A fighter with the Free Syria Army fires his weapon during heavy clashes with government forces in Aleppo's Izza neighborhood, on September 9, 2012. (Zac Baillie/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
Smoke rises over a battle-scarred Saif Al Dawla district in Aleppo, Syria, on October 2, 2012. The U.N.'s deputy secretary-general says U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon made a strong appeal to Syria's foreign minister to stop using heavy weapons against civilians and reduce the violence that is killing 100 to 200 people every day. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
A wounded woman, still in shock, leaves Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, on September 20, 2012. Two months into the battle for Syria's largest city, civilians are still bearing the brunt of the daily assaults of helicopter gunships, roaring jets and troops fighting in the streets. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo, File) #
 
The body of a 7 year old boy killed by a Syrian Army sniper lies in Dar Al Shifa hospital in Aleppo, on September 20, 2012. Dozens of Syrian civilians were killed on Thursday, four children among them, in artillery shelling by government forces in Aleppo. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
A Free Syrian Army fighter takes a rest in a hole on a building during an attack on Syrian Army positions in Aleppo, on September 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
Syrians cross a street next to apartments, many of which have been abandoned due to government shelling, in Aleppo, on September 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #
 
Syrian children play in the street in the Bustan Al Qsar district in Aleppo, on September 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
A Syrian woman waits to leave her home during clashes between rebels and government forces in Aleppo, on September 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
A Syrian man carrying grocery bags tries to dodge sniper fire as he runs through an alley near a checkpoint manned by the Free Syria Army in Aleppo, on September 14, 2012. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
Destroyed buildings in the al-Arqub neighborhood of Aleppo, during fighting between Syrian government soldiers and rebel forces, on September 23, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, uses a mirror to help him see Syrian troops around the corner, as he takes a position with his comrade during fighting in Aleppo, on September 24, 2012. Most of those fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad are ordinary Syrians and soldiers who have defected, having become fed up with the authoritarian government, analysts say. But increasingly, foreign fighters and those adhering to an extremist Islamist ideology are turning up on the front lines. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) #
 
A damaged ceiling in he Bab Antakya district of Old Aleppo, on October 2, 2012. Aleppo's Old City is one of several locations in Syria declared world heritage sites by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, that are now at risk from the fighting. (Reuters/Zain Karam) #
 
An FSA soldier fires his weapon towards Syrian Army positions in the Amariya district of Aleppo, on September 10, 2012. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo) #
 
Syrian men walk in a street between destroyed buildings where triple bombs rocked Saadallah al-Jabri square, in Aleppo, on October 3, 2012. (AP Photo/SANA) #
 
Syrian rebel fighters repair a grenade launcher some 50 meters away from Syrian government troops during fighting in Aleppo's northern Izaa quarter, on September 27, 2012. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
FSA soldiers help a severely wounded colleague after he was shot by a Syrian Army sniper in Aleppo's Izaa district, on September 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
A Syrian rebel waits to be treated for his wounds at a hospital in the Sheikh Fares district of Aleppo, on September 18, 2012. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A Free Syrian Army fighter scans for a target from a building in the al Izaa neighborhood of Aleppo, on September 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 





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A photograph, taken through a hole in a damaged building in the neighborhood of Al-Amiriya, Aleppo, shows the decomposing body of a Syrian rebel on a street, on September 24, 2012. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
Destruction due to bombing by Syrian regime forces in Aleppo, on September 23, 2012. Regime aircraft hammered insurgent positions nationwide as rebels said they now control most of the country and have moved their command center from Turkey to "liberated areas" inside Syria. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
A member of the Free Syrian Army opens fire during clashes with Syrian Army forces in Aleppo, on September 27, 2012. (Reuters/Zain Karam) #
 
A Free Syrian Army soldier takes cover while fighting against Syrian Army troops in the Saif Al Dawle district of Aleppo, on October 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
Damaged buildings in Aleppo's restive Salaheddin neighborhood, on September 3, 2012. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) #
 
Medics carry Fatima Qassim, 6, whose legs were badly injured after government forces fired on her family's car, to the emergency room in a hospital in Aleppo, on September 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #
 
A Free Syrian Army soldier throws a petrol bomb toward Syrian Army positions in Aleppo's Saif Al Dawle district, on October 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) #
 
Battle-damaged buildings in Aleppo's Salaheddin neighborhood, following weeks of clashes and battles between Syrian rebels and government forces, photographed on October 3, 2012. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #

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