A city in ruins: The destruction of Aleppo is almost complete
The destruction of ancient Aleppo is almost complete.
The historic souk lies in ruins. The seventh century Umayad Mosque has been obliterated.
This much I could see from the Syrian Army checkpoint in the heart of the old city.
There the commanding officer told me they have hundred of rebel fighters surrounded.
From the constant refrain of shelling and automatic gunfire, it’s also clear the battle is by no means over.
It is a war that has come to reverberate far beyond this city; far beyond Syria.
It is a call to arms answered by radicals in Britain and around the world.
And in Aleppo, the war is changing.
As government forces have advanced, so the opposition has become more radicalized.
Where we stood today, it was the Al-Qaeda afflilatied Al Nusra Front that held ground just fifty metres away.
It’s one reason the west is finding it so hard to pick sides; caught between a regime it has accused of war crimes and a brutal opposition that has murdered western captives.
Choice is not a luxury the people of Aleppo can enjoy, when they struggle for the barest essentials.
In a junk yard, we met Fatime and her family, trying to reclaim a semblance of normality.
With the sound of sniper fire close by it is impossible.
"The children are terrified and we have no electricity or water," she tells me.
The fighting is also uncomfortably close to the governor of the city.
In his office, Marwan Olabi displays the rebel mortars that have killed members of his staff.
He tells me the war has drawn many foreigners to the rebel ranks. The people we are fighting are not human, they’re animals, he says.
In Aleppo, the rebels have been slowing losing ground. Bashar al-Assad can claim he is winning.
But the war is spreading poison and its bloody influence is growing by the day.