Plagued by clashes between government forces and militant groups, Aleppo, the largest city in Syria and the last rebel stronghold before the border with Turkey, has transformed into a battlefield.
Tens of thousands of civilians remain in rebel-held areas of the city, while air strikes and bombardments reduce it to ruins.
A picture, shared by the French-based NGO Syria Charity on 14 February, shows a father covered in dust, clutching his dead baby in the wake of an air strike that has killed five other members of his family – “Aleppo is dying” reads the caption.
“We share these pictures so that people know what is happening on the ground in Aleppo,” says Anfal Seddik, a spokesperson for Syria Charity, which has operated in the country since 2011, providing medical services and food packages for civilians and runs an orphan sponsorship programme.
“Air strikes are ongoing daily, sometimes several times a day. It is tough for the people, there has been a lot of fighting with government forces, with Isis and with members from the Kurds group and “moderate” rebels. It is really frustrating not to know what will happen in the city.”
On 15 February, around 50 civilians were killed when missiles hit at least five medical facilities and two schools in rebel-held areas of Syria, according to the United Nations, which labelled the attacks a blatant violation of international law.
This included a mother and baby hospital operated by the charity in Azaz, north of Aleppo, which was destroyed after being hit in what has been called a “deliberate” attack by humanitarian organisations.
Video footage, taken moments after the bombing, shows distressed new born babies crying in their incubators, surrounded by debris.
In pictures: Russian air strikes in Syria
In pictures: Russian air strikes in Syria
Syrian boys cry following Russian air strikes on the rebel-held Fardous neighbourhood of the northern embattled Syrian city of Aleppo
Russian defense ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia. Konashenkov strongly warned the United States against striking Syrian government forces and issued a thinly-veiled threat to use Russian air defense assets to protect them
Syrians wait to receive treatment at a hospital following Russian air strikes on the rebel-held Fardous neighbourhood of the northern embattled Syrian city of Alepp
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov speaks at a briefing in the Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia. Antonov said the Russian air strikes in Syria have killed about 35,000 militants, including about 2,700 residents of Russia
Jameel Mustafa Habboush, receives oxygen from civil defence volunteers, known as the white helmets, as they rescue him from under the rubble of a building following Russian air strikes on the rebel-held Fardous neighbourhood of the northern embattled Syrian city of Aleppo
Civil defence members rest amidst rubble in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria
A girl carrying a baby inspects damage in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria
Civilians and civil defence members look for survivors at a site damaged after Russian air strikes on the Syrian rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria
Civilians and civil defence members carry an injured woman on a stretcher at a site damaged after Russian air strikes on the Syrian rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria
Volunteers from Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, help civilians after Russia carried out its first airstrikes in Syria
The aftermath of Russian airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria
Smoke billows from buildings in Talbiseh, in Homs province, western Syria, after airstrikes by Russian warplanes
Russian Air Forces carry out an air strike in the ISIS controlled Al-Raqqah Governorate. Russia's KAB-500s bombs completely destroy the Liwa al-Haqq command unit
Caspian Flotilla of the Russian Navy firing Kalibr cruise missiles against remote Isis targets in Syria
Â© TASS/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis
Russia claimed it hit eight Isis targets, including a "terrorist HQ and co-ordination centre" that was completely destroyed
A video grab taken from the footage made available on the Russian Defence Ministry's official website, purporting to show an airstrike in Syria
A release from the Russian defence ministry purportedly showing targets in Syria being hit
Russia launched air strikes in war-torn Syria, its first military engagement outside the former Soviet Union since the occupation of Afghanistan in 1979. Russian warplanes carried out strikes in three Syrian provinces along with regime aircraft as Putin seeks to steal US President Barack Obama's thunder by pushing a rival plan to defeat Isis militants in Syria
Caspian Flotilla of the Russian Navy firing Kalibr cruise missiles against remote Isis targets in Syria, a thousand kilometres away. The targets include ammunition factories, ammunition and fuel depots, command centres, and training camps
Â© TASS/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis
The air strikes come after world powers agreed to a temporary “cessation of hostilities” to start within a week, along with the acceleration and expansion of aid deliveries.
Baring the brunt of the bombardments, local people now have “distrust” in Western governments, she says.
“The media talk about Isis and about terrorists, but that’s not the main point. Most people who are dying are dying from air strikes, they are not dying because of Isis.”
“Last week there was an agreement for a cessation of hostilities, but still the Russians have been striking. It is not terrorists or soldiers who are suffering, just civilians, and the air strikes are getting worse. People on the ground do not expect anything from these talks.”
“People leave the country because they are under constant fear, it is not safe anymore. However, many still have hope that things will get better. But if things do get better, most believe it will not be due to government action - it will be because of the people here.”
This hope for a better future has been witnessed by photographer Karam al Masri, who captures images of Aleppo’s people attempting to go about their daily lives in the conflict-zone.
The 25-year-old, who lost his mother and aunt in the fighting and has previously been imprisoned by Isis, told CNN he tries to capture everyday moments in the city in an attempt to show “normalcy”.
“They have seen so much horror they are almost oblivious to it,” he says, describing market stallholders who still sell produce, despite there being less stock and dramatic price rises, and children who still go to school, though often in makeshift, underground classrooms.
A 31-year old boxer, Shaaban Kattan, snapped by Mr Masri, holds a club for youngsters so they can escape the chaos.
"I liked this story because I was able to show how people are trying to forget the war, cope, endure," says Mr Masri.
There is little hope for the long-term peace, however, after President Bashar al-Assad vowed to retake control of the entire country by force.
Despite the promise of ceasefires, the bombardments continue and have intensified says Ms Seddik, explaining the impact the conflict is having on a generation of young Syrians, faced with a devastated country to rebuild in the future.
“It’s a traumatised generation, the children today,” she says. “They have lost their parents, their brothers or sisters, their homes. Their childhood is gone.”
“When we first created the charity,” she says, “we thought it would be a quick thing and would not turn this way. We have been going one year after the other and now we don’t know when this will end.”
The message from Syrian people to the world is “we are dying” says Ms Seddik. “People are dying from hunger, people are dying from the cold, they have no more electricity, they have no more running water.”
“We are dying and it’s like nobody really cares. It’s been five years already, so what is the world doing?”Reuse content