As It Happens

Aleppo resident says his friends could be among hundreds of missing men

Abdulkafi al-Hamdu has been documenting events in Aleppo through social media. He now worries that his friends may be among the missing after they crossed into regime-held parts of the city.
Abdulkafi al-Hamdu is an english professor and blogger in the rebel-held area of eastern Aleppo. al-Hamdu is worried that friends of his have gone missing after entering regime-held areas of the city. (Abdulkafi al-Hamdu/Twitter)

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The United Nations says there are reports that hundreds of men from rebel-held eastern Aleppo may have gone missing. Facing bombing and artillery from the Syrian army, some have attempted to cross into the Assad regime-held areas and have not been heard from since.

Death is a favour. It's much, much better than going to the regime areas.-Abdulkafi al-Hamdu
Abdulkafi al-Hamdu, second from the left, has been documenting events in eastern Aleppo through social media. (Abdulkafi al-Hamdu/Facebook)
Abdulkafi al-Hamdu believes some of his friends are among the missing. The Aleppo resident is an english professor at the University of Aleppo. He has been documenting events in the city through social media platforms like Twitter and Periscope. 

As It Happens reached Abdulkafi al-Hamdu by Skype. He was at one of the few places in Aleppo that still has a decent internet connection, powered by a generator.

Abdulkafi al-Hamdu: One of my students went to the regime-held area with his father. They were both arrested. Two people who are relatives of mine, my friends, were also arrested. Three men, two sons and their father, were arrested also. The young people were sent to the front lines.

May people now, no one knows anything about them. Even if your relatives go to the regime to ask about them, they say, "we don't know where they are." 

CO: Would it be safe for you to leave? Do you think that you would be arrested if you crossed out of East Aleppo?

AA: Of course. Going to the regime is the worst choice ever for the civilians who are living in the eastern part of Aleppo. Death is a favour. It's much, much better than going to the regime areas. 

Of those people that are here, it's so dangerous to go to the regime areas because some of them are arrested and you know it's so dangerous. 

After being arrested they have many assaults and it's dangerous for us. Even for women, I think they would prefer death to being in the hands of Assad's allies.

We are being killed because we wanted freedom, and no one will ask about us. We just wanted freedom and this is what we've faced. Genocide.- Abdulkafi al-Hamdu

CO: What is the message from inside East Aleppo that you would like to get out to the world?

AA: I want people all over the world to know that 300,000 people are besieged in an area that might be in the same area as the White House. Those people are being attacked with all kinds of weapons every minute, every second, and we are surrounded. They are besieging those people with their women, with their children.
People who evacuated the eastern districts of Aleppo carry their belongings as they walk in a government held area. (REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki)

Most of the leaders of the world want to give a lesson for those oppressed people not to ask for freedom. Otherwise you are going to be killed like animals. This is exactly what's going on.

We are being killed because we wanted freedom, and no one will ask about us. We just wanted freedom and this is what we've faced. Genocide.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. For more on this story and to learn what life is like now inside Aleppo, listen to our full interview with Abdulkafi al-Hamdu.


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