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Syria

Tweets from Aleppo

Social media offers first-person insight into the real-time devastation that has occurred in the city since Monday

Syrians leave a rebel-held area of Aleppo towards the government-held side on Dec. 13, 2016 during an operation by Syrian government forces to retake the embattled city.

They had already said goodbye.

With government forces and their allies closing in on the Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday, residents, activists and local journalists feared the worst and tweeted their farewells. "This may be my last video," an activist identified as Lina Shamy said in her post.

But just when death appeared imminent, a glimmer of hope emerged. A ceasefire had been brokered that would allow civilians to evacuate. Then, just as quickly, that ceasefire fell apart.

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Within 48 hours, Aleppo residents had gone from appearing to be at death's door, to being handed a lifeline, to the unknown. A United Nations official called the series of events "outrageously cruel."

The tweets offered a remarkable glimpse into a real-time conflict and the lives of those ravaged by war, evoking a feeling of helplessness that spanned the globe.

Here is a look at how the situation unfolded on social media this week.


Monday: The panic

Lina Shamy's goodbye post, which has been retweeted approximately 30,000 times, was hashtagged #SaveAleppo and #SaveHumanity.

"To everyone who can hear me, we are here exposed to a genocide in the besieged city of Aleppo," she said.

A user identified as Monther Etaky, whose Twitter profile said he, too, is an activist, thanked people for their support and braced for the worst.

He wrote: "I would like to thank all the humans whose stood for the humanity with our case, i will never forget you if we passed to the other life"

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A Twitter user with the handle @Mr_Alhamdo, who said he is a teacher and an activist, called Monday "Doomsday."

He also expressed fear for his family. He said: "this is a call and might be the last call. Save Aleppo people. Save my daughter and other children."

Rami Zien, whose Twitter profile identifies him as a journalist, wrote "they are just hours away of killing us."

Fatemah al-Abed, whose seven-year-old daughter Bana's Twitter account has drawn more than 290,000 followers, questioned why no one was stepping in: "Final message – I am very sad no one is helping us in this world, no one is evacuating me & my daughter. Goodbye."


Tuesday: The hope

Rami Zien expressed optimism after learning of the ceasefire.

He said: "I Confirm ceasefire is active in #aleppo Might be a hope after all"

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He echoed that message in another post later in the day. He wrote: "#StandWithAleppo I am still alive, still waiting, ceasefire looks working No one left yet. Still negotiations on how, when start evc."

In a third post, he wrote:

Bilal Abdul Kareem, whose Twitter profile describes him as a journalist and documentary filmmaker, confirmed a deal had been reached and said it would allow "fighters & civilians to exit Aleppo."


Wednesday: The unknown

Salah Ashkar, whose Twitter profile identifies him as being in Aleppo and who has uploaded videos said to be from the scene, wrote the shelling had resumed and residents were in a "total panic."

He said: "We are in a huge risk! The aerial bombardment has not stopped please go to th streets ask ur govt to put pressure on #Russia to stop now"

Lina Shamy, in a video post, said: "Criminal Assad regime and the Iranian have broke the ceasefire and they were back to attack the civilians and to continue the genocide. Civilians are stuck again in the city. No one could have leave the city under this agreement."

In another post later in the day, she thanked those who were protesting outside Russian embassies around the world.

"Understand that your stand with us gives us strength and to renew our belief in our collective humanity. Please do not stop," she said.

Zouhir al-Shimale, a freelance journalist based in Aleppo, tweeted he could not sleep because he was thinking of the "unknown future."

He said: "Keep your thoughts. keep your hands crossed for us here in east #Aleppo Remember your brothers in human being're counting on all of you guys!"

Hadi al-Abdallah, a journalist with more than 500,000 Twitter followers, said Aleppo residents hadn't "slept a wink as they await promised evacuation of civilians and wounded. Nothing new … we continue to wait."

Some reports out of Syria late Wednesday indicated a new ceasefire agreement had been reached and citizens could potentially leave Aleppo soon.

Mr. Zien approached this news with caution.


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