HUFFINGTON POST
09/08/2016 10:27 am ET Updated Sep 08, 2016

Hey, Gary Johnson, This Is What Aleppo Is

It's kind of a big deal.

Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson made it clear that he has no idea what the city of Aleppo is, which is rather problematic for someone who is running for president. 

The former governor of New Mexico was asked Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” what he’d do about the catastrophic situation in the besieged Syrian city.

What is Aleppo?” he responded. 

Well, Gary, this is what Aleppo is.

Residents inspect a damaged site after an airstrike on Aleppo's rebel-held al Mashad neighborhood in Syria on July 26.
Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters
Residents inspect a damaged site after an airstrike on Aleppo's rebel-held al Mashad neighborhood in Syria on July 26.

1. Primary Arena In The Battle For Syria

The government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad has been battling rebel groups since 2012 for control of what was once Syria’s largest city and its business hub. None of the international attempts to put in place “cessation of hostilities” agreements have worked, mainly because Russia continues to support the Assad regime with airstrikes.

The city is under constant fire. “Death provides a relief for those civilians living here,” aid worker Rami Adham told The Huffington Post earlier this year. “I’ve heard numerous times people congratulating each other on the loss of certain relatives.”

A photo of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, covered in blood and dust following a bombing in Aleppo, went viral several weeks ago due to its raw depiction of the suffering residents face day in and day out.

2. Millions Of Displaced People

Constant streams of airstrikes and a total lack of food, shelter and medical supplies have turned Aleppo into a totally uninhabitable place. For those civilians who survive the strikes, they’re often required to leave their homes in search of relative safety.

Sometimes, military attacks have displaced upwards of 25,000 people in one night.

People are forced to move into unstable displaced persons camps, joining the ranks of almost 7 million internally displaced Syrians. The other likely outcome is fleeing elsewhere. Almost 5 million Syrian refugees have already tried to seek safety in countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and across Europe.

3. Zero Humanitarian Aid

The fighting in Aleppo is so intense that all types of humanitarian assistance, like food and medical supplies, have been cut off since July. The main road leading into the city, called the Castello Road, has been totally blockaded.

The stoppage has placed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians on the line, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

4. Hospitals Under Attack

Government-backed forces often use the destruction of hospitals and medical facilities as a weapon of war.

In Aleppo, less than one-third of hospitals were functioning last November, according to Physicians for Human Rights, and about 95 percent of the city’s doctors had either fled or been killed.

PHR has tallied more than 370 attacks on 265 medical facilities since the civil war began in 2011, plus the deaths of 750 medical personnel.

“The Syrian government — and recently Russian forces — have been relentlessly attacking medical facilities in violation of international law and in defiance of any respect for humanity,” Widney Brown, PHR’s director of programs, said in a report released in February.

International law dictates that areas containing hospitals are designated safe zones and “should not be the object of military operations.”

Syrians carry the body of a man after a helicopter belonging to the Syrian army carried out barrel bomb attacks on the Bayan
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Syrians carry the body of a man after a helicopter belonging to the Syrian army carried out barrel bomb attacks on the Bayan hospital and a bazaar in Aleppo, Syria, on June 8.

And in case you’re interested in learning more, Gov. Johnson, here’s a suggested reading list on Aleppo that HuffPost put together:

HuffPost

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Aleppo, Syria
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