Aleppo's Children: Channel 4 Documentary Chronicles Misery In Syria

In the past four months, 12-year-old Mohamed Asaf has made the Dar al-Shifa clinic in Syria's Aleppo his home. The boy is a tireless aid to the few doctors in the makeshift hospital and helps care for an endless influx of wounded civilians and rebel fighters.

"With time, it has become easy," Mohamed says in his young voice. "Blood has become like water to me."

Mohamed told his story to German filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen, who traveled to Aleppo for Britain's Channel 4 and came back with one of the most haunting reports on Syria's conflict so far. "In this war, Aleppo's children grow old before their time," Mettelsiefen explains.

Syria's largest city, Aleppo, was the country's commercial heart before the start of the conflict between President Bashar Assad's regime and the opposition. The city was largely spared during the first months of the conflict, when fighting was concentrated in the provinces of Homs and Idlib. In the summer of 2012, however, rebels launched an offensive to take control of Aleppo. The city has remained a battlefield since.

Conditions in Aleppo are beyond imagination. Mettelsiefen reports that while the city's medical staff once counted 5,000 people, only 30 doctors and nurses remain for about 600,000 civilians. Government war planes pound the city daily, leaving entire neighborhoods without running water and electricity. Many are going hungry.

On the banks of the river Queiq, the Channel4 crew witnesses body after body washing ashore. One man was found in the water with his hands tied. Another body appeared to be a child's. A third man was discovered naked.

Residents of Aleppo have dug up more than 100 bodies from the river since the first 65 bodies were found in January 2013. The victims were discovered with hands bound, shot in the head, suggesting they had been executed.

The Queiq's waters once were thought sacred, Mettelsiefen says. "Today, citizens go fishing for corpses," he adds.

With no end to violence in sight, the United Nations already estimates more than 70,000 people have lost their lives in the Syrian conflict. More than 1 million Syrians have crossed into neighboring countries to flee the violence.

Watch Mettelsiefen's documentary in the video above, and visit the Channel 4 website for more clips and an interview with the filmmaker.



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