Syrian Natives Who Live in Wisconsin Worry for Loved Ones in Aleppo

Dec 15, 2016

You may have seen photos in the news of people fleeing the crumbling city of Aleppo, sometimes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s a devastating sight for Syrian natives living in the Milwaukee area. They watch the humanitarian crisis intensify for people and places they know, as government troops close in on those who have been fighting the regime. And killings have continued, despite a ceasefire that was supposed to allow thousands of civilians to leave the war zone.

Nearly six years ago civil war broke out in Syria, as rebels challenged the government of President Bashar Assad. Both sides have gained and lost ground. Recently, Assad's troops and their allies captured all but a small section of Aleppo, now ground zero in the war. The Associated Press calls the ongoing attacks "a bloodbath" among the rebels and civilians who remain.

The carnage horrifies Syrian native Dima Alghazzy, who now lives in Waukesha County. "I have my grandmother still there and I have some friends as well from my schooldays that are still there."

Dima says her grandmother does not live in the part of the city that's seen the most attacks. Yet that fact provides little comfort. "There was this one time where a block over from my grandmother's house a bomb went off and all her windows crashed. So you never know. I mean, it's very unstable, it's very unpredictable."

Dima says it's "painful" to watch the violence, especially because it's gone on for so long -- not just in this civil war, but also in the 1980s, when Assad's father committed atrocities. "I don’t know what to think any more. I don't know if all the attention will get something done. We just want this to stop."

"Their hope relies 100 percent on what the West can do to help them," says Dima's husband, Shamcy Alghazzy. From his vantage point, it's up to the West -- led by the United States -- to provide relief and help bring the war to an end.

Shamcy notes that more reports about the Aleppo crisis have been in the news during the past week. That includes stories from people there using social media to detail developments -- or to say goodbye.

He hopes the increased attention forces leaders to act. "Especially with the type of messages that are being shared by those who are inside the besieged areas in Aleppo, women committing suicide jumping off buildings because they don't want to be captured, messages by children who've been reaching out to the world telling them about their stories. Those are all human beings, that, many of them were killed over the last few days."

Shamcy says while Assad and his allies may be closing in on victory in Aleppo, the war over his homeland continues. "They still hope that the international community will step in and save them, at the end of the day."

Shamcy says he hopes that intervention comes sooner rather than later.