Aleppo has been continuously inhabited since perhaps the 6th millennium BC. The city owed its longevity to its location on the old Silk Road, though recently - since the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869 - Aleppo has fallen from its preeminent height as East-West trade has largely bypassed it.
The Syrian Civil War of 2011 precipitated the devastating Battle of Aleppo (2012), which has caused such terrible destruction to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once proud, ornate buildings have gone the way of time in the blink of an eye.
During the war, the Syrian army used countless barrel bombs and dropped them onto the city from helicopters. These actions have caused thousands of tragic deaths and great waves of evacuations. The conflict's ripples are being felt all over the Middle East, and even Europe.
These images show that Aleppo was once a pleasant and flourishing city. One moved former visitor, when seeing this image, wrote of "one of the friendliest cities I've ever visited. Now, it's an unbelievable tragedy."
I find these images so powerfully touching; provoking grief, pity and even a sense of anger at how such beauty has been overturned in an instant. As one viewer has expressed it: "I never thought I would cry over a building, but this image just has me in tears."
Aleppo's buildings, streets, pavilions and piazzas took many long years to build, and it will take just as many to have them rebuilt once again. However, there is no way that the lives of the civilians can ever be rebuilt.
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