Drone Documents Devastation Of Aleppo
Frame grab of drone footage of Aleppo – click to go to the video

The destruction is so complete that it obliterates even a sense of time.

At a glance, the video could show Berlin in 1945 or Grozny, 2000. Mass death erases all distinctions.

The place is Aleppo, Syria, the al-Mashhad district, or what remains of it after recent attacks by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies. Toppled rooftop satellite dishes, choked by plaster dust, resemble wilted flowers. Figures move through the pulverized rubble but are hard to make out.

Once seen, these images become impossible to forget. More than the specter of endless shelters and the staggering numbers of displaced people, what comes to mind whenever I read about the war are the dusty, hopeful faces of six small, barefoot siblings I photographed with my phone while standing outside their windblown tent in Zaatari, a Syrian refugee camp, just across the border in Jordan. I wonder how they are doing.

There are now some 65 million displaced people around the world, equivalent in number to the entire population of the United Kingdom or France. Refugees spend 17 years on average in camps. The children at that Syrian camp fled their home just ahead of the guns and rockets.

I wonder what “home” will ever mean to them.

This used to be a neighborhood, in other words. A neighborhood is more than an assortment of buildings and streets. It is life, shared and rooted in place, passed down through generations – nowhere more so than in an ancient city like Aleppo, where some years ago I was taken to the home of a man who lived on a street that bore his family name.

“How long has your family lived here?” I asked him.

“On the street or in Aleppo?” he replied.

Before I could answer, he told me: “On the street, 800 years. In Aleppo, 1,200.”

Communities incubate hope. Extinguishing this is the goal of mass murderers
and tyrants.

That is what the drone video shows.

A powerfully written chronicle of devastation.
This is not eye candy in any conventional sense of my concept. It is testimony to the power of #dronesforgood. We cannot understand what we cannot feel.
This week, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize. His words put this in context:
I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And for just that one moment I could be you
Yes I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you
read more and see the video at nytimes.com


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