Photo Gallery Abandoned in Syria

The siege of Aleppo is a humanitarian catastrophe on a dramatic scale -- and a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has seized on the Syrian civil war to expose an impotent West and show his own geopolitical muscle.
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Residents of the destroyed, rebel-held neighborhood of al-Kalasa in Aleppo on Feb. 4. Aleppo is the most important symbol of the resistance in Syria, but now it is all but surrounded and cut off from the most important supply routes.

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Children run near a hole in the ground after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held al-Sakhour neighborhood of Aleppo. There is no more diesel, little to eat and there are severe shortages of electricity and water. According to the United Nations, there are still some 300,000 people living in Aleppo -- a population that has now been abandoned to a rapid death from the sky or a slow death of starvation. It is a nightmare even worse than Sarajevo was.

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A shop in the Syrian capital city of Damascus displays a souvenir plate featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad. With its recent military support, Moscow has reversed the momentum in the Syrian civil war in favor of dictator Assad and has increased the chaos -- all while ignoring the Islamic State. Putin has embarrassed the US superpower, discredited the UN and transformed Russia into an influential power in the Middle East.

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There are currently 3,000 Russian troops stationed in the province of Latakia on Syria's west coast and Russian jets have flown roughly 7,300 sorties since the end of September. The Russian offensive managed to achieve more in just a few days than the Assad regime had in the years that preceded it -- and has also reduced Tehran's influence in Syria.

Foto: AP/dpa
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Here, a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders near Maaret al-Numan believed to have been hit in a Russian airstrike. Putin is now the most powerful man in Damascus and he appears to be following a strategy similar to the one he once employed in Chechnya: destroy everything until there are no more people left, there is no more resistance and no political alternative.

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Syrians are seen here congregating at the Bab al-Salam border to Turkey after fleeing the conflicts in the Azaz reason. The current state of the Syrian civil war also represents a massive political failure on the part of the West. There were opportunities in the past five years for steering events in Syria down a different path.

Foto: AP/dpa
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If, for example, the West had established a no-fly zone in parts of the country, it would have created an alternative for many Syrians, giving scores the possibility to stay in the country rather than having to flee, as these refugees waiting at the Syrian border to the Turkish city of Kilis have done.

Foto: Sedat Suna/ dpa
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Residents inspect damage after airstrikes in Aleppo earlier this month. In an editorial published in the Washington Post last week, historian and journalist Michael Ignatieff wrote that if the US and NATO allow the siege of Aleppo to proceed, they will be "complicit in crimes of war. Aleppo is an emergency requiring emergency measures."

Foto: © Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters/ REUTERS
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Why isn't US President Barack Obama standing up to Putin? Does he fear a direct confrontation with the Russians?