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Aleppo residents show devastation, say goodbye on social media

Though service in Aleppo is spotty, activists and freelance journalists have been posting frequent video updates and photos to Twitter, often with the preface that it may be their last message.

'My heart is beating so I will just keep hope,' says besieged Aleppo journalist Zouhir al-Shimale

Freelance journalist Zouhir al-Shimale holds up some shrapnel he found while walking the street in Aleppo. He has been posting scenes of destruction to his Twitter account. (Zouhir al-Shimale/Twitter)

As the shelling and airstrikes resume in Aleppo, social media has provided eyes on the ground and insight into what life is like for the residents still there. Their view is largely one of destruction and devastation as bombs continue to fall.

Though service in the area is spotty, activists and freelance journalists have been posting frequent video updates and photos to Twitter, sometimes with the preface that it may be their last.

Here's a look at what four Aleppo residents have been seeing and hearing over the past few days.

Bilal Abdul Kareem

The Syria-based U.S. journalist and filmmaker has been posting self-shot video updates chronicling daily life in Aleppo. Among the most chilling of his recent posts was a simple 18-second video showing what it sounds like as he brushes his teeth at the start of the day.

"This is a normal morning here in Aleppo," Kareem said, appearing unfazed by the endless explosions and fighting heard in the background.

On Monday, he posted a video he said might be his "final message." But he has posted several times since, most recently on Wednesday, when he gave an update on the resumed shelling and encouraged onlookers to "stay engaged."

Zouhir al-Shimale

Al-Shimale is a freelance journalist based in eastern Aleppo. He spoke CBC Radio's The Current on Wednesday, giving an update on the civilian situation in the city. He has also been posting updates on Twitter.

"The situation is really intense," said al-Shimale, as bombs could be heard in the background. "[Civilians] are dying in the streets because they have no treatment."

He estimates about 50,000 to 60,000 people remain in Aleppo, though some have been killed in the attacks. The United Nations reported that pro-government forces killed at least 82 civilians earlier this week, including women and children.

"My heart is beating so I will just keep hope," he told The Current.

Lina Shamy

The Current also spoke to Shamy, an anti-regime activist living in Aleppo. She has been posting online pleas, asking the online world to pay attention to what is going on in Aleppo.

Many people have been fleeing their homes, Shamy said, noting that she has had to move from locations, which gave her a glimpse at the extent of the damage in her city.

"I really can't recognize the streets due to the bombing … everything has changed," she said. "I really, really can't think or expect what will happen."

Almost all of her recent tweets have been paired with the hashtag #StandWithAleppo, being used by many to condemn the situation in Syria.

Abdulkafi Alhamdu

Alhamdu is an English professor in East Aleppo. He spoke to CBC Radio's As It Happens last week, saying the bombing is constant and many people are afraid of going outside.

"The most common thing that I see in the eyes of people is fear. The fear is in the eyes of children, women, old people, students, teachers," he said.

"You can't imagine the amount of shelling, OK? And you know the shelling is faster than you can do anything. It falls beside you and kills you."

Alhamdu posted a scathing critique of the international community to Periscope on Monday, in what he said was his "last call."

"Don't believe anymore in [the] United Nations, don't believe anymore in the international community … They are satisfied we are being killed," he told the camera during a bleak three-minute rant.

"Don't believe that you are free people in your countries anymore."

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