Why the Good Guy vs. Bad Guy Narrative Doesn’t Work in Aleppo

As many of you saw from our update yesterday, the situation in Aleppo, Syria became even more dire over the last few days—something we almost didn’t think was possible.

This morning, the BBC shared a short video providing much-needed context for the work we’re doing in this area. We thought it might help you picture where we are providing food and winter supplies—which you made possible yesterday. We wanted you to see the faces of the people you are helping and better understand what they are fleeing.

The video briefly mentions how Syrian government forces have retaken more than half of rebel-held territory in the last few days. It’s important to understand what this means—and that it is more complex than it sounds.

Because here’s the thing: the good guy/bad guy narrative doesn’t work with the Syrian crisis.

The Syrian government, ruled by Bashar al-Assad and backed by Russia, has been accused of numerous human rights violations—including the use of chemical weapons against its own people and bombing nearly every hospital in Aleppo in order to squeeze families out.

The “rebels” are opposed to this kind of oppression, but they’ve been accused of tactics that are equally oppressive and violent. Rebel forces include a huge variety of anti-government groups—from pro-democracy forces to Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and everything in between. 

Both sides have caused unnecessary civilian suffering and death.

The only part of this situation that is black and white is this: innocent children and civilians are paying the steepest price for this conflict. They are caught up in a war that just happened to land in their backyard, and they need help.

Before the war, Aleppo was Syria’s largest city, with an estimated population of two million people. Imagine if you lived in Los Angeles and war broke out… think about how difficult it would be to get out. Over the weekend, there was a window of time when people could escape. Rebel forces were retreating, and government forces had not yet moved in, providing a gap in the fighting. People took advantage of it and ran for dear life, taking only what they could carry.

That’s who we’re showing up for. Yesterday, you generously donated to provide food and winter supplies for these families. Thanks to you, they will be greeted with sleeping bags (made by other refugees) and emergency food rations.

For the people of Aleppo, help is on its way. Thank you for going with us.

Help us provide immediate emergency aid—food, water, and shelter—for 18,000 people in and around Aleppo, Syria.

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