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The devastation in Aleppo, as seen by a drone

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

The Syrian city of Aleppo, site of the most significant front in the Syrian civil war today, has become a kind of punchline in the US presidential election. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson couldn’t identify the city when asked in an interview, leading to weeks of mockery. Donald Trump was unable to answer a simple question about the city during the second presidential debate, and decided instead to talk about Iraq for some reason.

But the situation in Aleppo is deadly serious: At least 200,000 people in the city’s opposition-held eastern half are in extreme peril, being pounded daily by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s warplanes and those of his Russian allies. The above footage, filmed by the Aleppo Media Center with a drone, shows just how devastating this bombardment has been for the city’s residents.

What you see is a city in ruins. Aleppo — which, prior to the war, was Syria’s most populous city — has been absolutely shattered by the fighting, with destroyed and collapsed buildings littering the city.

This is the result of indiscriminate bombing campaigns by Assad and the Russians. While the rebel forces have done their share of harm, the government currently has the advantage, and has penned in the rebels in the city’s east. The bombings are designed to soften up the rebels and terrorize the citizens to a point where they’ll do almost anything to make it stop. The goal, it seems, was to clear the way for Assad’s troops, who are currently in the midst of a ground assault on rebel-held areas in the city.

This footage, then, shows what wholesale slaughter looks like in real time.

So while it’s all well and good to mock Trump and Johnson from the safety of American shores, it’s important to remember that there are hundreds of thousands of lives on the line in Aleppo. And that’s not even remotely funny.

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