I made my last visit to Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city and once its commercial hub, now a deeply wounded and broken city, just four months before the Syrian uprising started in March 2011. It was my last long stay in Syria, and Aleppo was a stop in what later felt like a goodbye tour to some of the cities soon to be most grievously damaged in the Syrian conflict. Driving from Damascus, I stopped at Maaloula, an ancient Christian town where some inhabitants still speak the language of Jesus, Aramaic. From there, we drove all the way to Janoudiyah, between Turkey and Jisr al-Shughour. Along the way, we would stop and spend a day in Homs, Hama … and Aleppo.
The citizens of these areas now tell endless stories of the conflict. But just as Aleppo stood out then as a flourishing and developing city, it is now notorious as a witness to the unparalleled barbarism of the Syrian regime.
Over the past five years, many people have come to know Aleppo for its gruesome violence. But the city is deeply rooted in history. Shakespeare mentions the city in Macbeth and Othello in the context of a far-off exotic place, where Othello killed a Turk in vengeance for a slain Venetian and where a sailor in Macbeth , according to one of the three Witches, vowed to sink his ship, the Tiger. It is one of the most revered cities in the region, and its rich history invokes profound stories about victory and defeat, success and suffering. Traders from Aleppo carried their city’s name far and beyond, to the extent that it is often said many in Africa recognise the name Aleppo more than Syria.
See more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/18/aleppo-elegy-for-doomed-city-syria-assad