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Syria Live Coverage: Starving in Aleppo

Queuing for bread in Aleppo, 8 December 2012

See also Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A "Yes" for the Constitution --- But How Big?
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: "The Land Where Assad Killed Santa Claus"

2125 GMT: The opposition Local Coordination Committees are reporting 94 people killed in the regime strike on the bakery queue in Halfaya.

The Committees claim 191 people have been slain across the country, with 43 deaths in Damascus and its suburbs.

2045 GMT: Blogger Razan Ghazzawi writes after the Halfaya mass killing:

Look into Halfaya martyrs’ eyes and dare to tell me you’re worried about “Islamists” in Syria. Dare to tell me, you piece of shit, that you’re worried about “FSA [Free Syrian Army] human rights violations,” worried about “civil war,” about Qatar and KSA, and that’s why you won’t support people’s revolution.

So you’re worried. I see. That explains a lot. Of course.

Newsflash: the minute you have forsaken the people of Syria, the Syrian people have also forsaken you and what you worry about, habibi: you and your civilization doesn’t exist in our time and space. It’s over, you and I aren’t fellow human beings anymore.

2015 GMT: Another video from today's mass killing when regime forces struck a bakery queue in Halfaya in Hama Province (Warning: Graphic Images):

1653 GMT: Smoke rising from regime's Meng helicopter base, besieged by insurgents, north of Aleppo:

1630 GMT: We are now getting news of casualties to match images in the video below (see 1530 GMT) of the bombing of the bakery queue in Halfaya in Hama Province --- dozens of people have reportedly been killed.

"There is no way to really know yet how many people were killed. When I got there, I could see piles of bodies all over the ground. There were women and children," said Samer al-Hamawi, a local activist.

Halfaya was seized by insurgents last week as they advanced through Hama Province and closed on Hama city.

Activists said more than 1000 people had been queuing at the bakery, amid shortages of fuel and flour.

"We hadn't received flour in around three days so everyone was going to the bakery today, and lots of them were women and children," Hamawi said. "I still don't know yet if my relatives are among the dead."

Footage of bodies being loaded on trucks (Warning: Graphic Images):

1530 GMT: Footage has been posted, claiming to be of the bloody aftermath of the bombing of a queue at a bakery in Halfaya in Hama Province.

1500 GMT: Claimed footage of regime bombing of Houla, near Homs:

1230 GMT: Claimed footage of regime warplane bombing the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta:

0950 GMT: The insurgent Liwa'a Al-Fatah Brigade is claiming that it has captured the headquarters of the regime's 135th brigade in Efrin, a largely-Kurdish town in the north.

The insurgents claimed 10 regime troops were killed, 20 wounded, and 35 captured, with 25 fleeing.

0650 GMT: The Local Coordination Committees claims the deaths of 143 people on Saturday, including 75 in Damascus and its suburbs and 30 in Aleppo Province.

0640 GMT: We open with yet another story of the worsening humanitarian situation in Aleppo, this time from Yara Bayoumy of Reuters:

A 60-year-old man wrapped in several layers of clothes lines up alongside his shivering grandchildren for bread -- a daily and often fruitless ritual that consumes most of his day.

Shielding himself from the rain in Bustan al-Qasr, a rebel-held district in the southwest of Syria's biggest city, Alaa el-Din Hout says shortages of food and fuel are driving his family and many other residents to desperation.

"We're starving. I can bear it but what about my children? I stand from 3 in the afternoon until 11 at night and you can't always get bread," said Hout, wearing a winter hat and scarf to keep out the winter cold.

"We're reduced to either begging or stealing."

The immediate cause of the deprivation is the five months of fighting and stalemate between insurgents and the regime in Syria's largest city, but the crisis is reinforced by a shattered distribution system and possibly by corruption. A tradesman complains:

Everyone here is asking same questions these days. Why don’t government-owned bakeries in the city have any bread? You can find it at private shops, but at sky-high prices. A pack of bread which used to cost 15-25 Syrian pounds (up to 50 U.S. cents, at the rate before the war) is now being sold for up to 200 pounds (more than $2 at the current exchange rate).

When we hear that the Syrian army is bringing in bread and distributing it to people, we rush to the place, hoping to get some for our families. But then we are pushed away by other “better citizens” – their favored people – those who are holding guns and working as government thugs. They take hundreds of packs from the truck, such that there is not enough left for even half the people waiting in line!

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