It's been called a "complete meltdown of humanity."
For the past week, the world has been shocked and horrified by graphic images and stories of the carnage and destruction in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The city has been a symbol of the conflict and the refugee crisis since early on in the Syrian civil war. The former industrial hub
has been split for over four years — with the Bashar Al-Assad regime controlling the west, while the rebels held the east. But a new wave of terror
fell over the 250,000 residents of eastern Aleppo this past week when the pro-government forces moved to recapture the rebel-held districts
With their victory, numerous atrocities followed: from the alleged execution of about 80 civilians
, including women and children
, to the resumed air strikes and heavy artillery against the city after a cease-fire deal fell through
"The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women, and children, the destruction — and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict," Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
, said on Tuesday. "What can happen next, if the international community continues to collectively wring its hands, can be much more dangerous. What is happening with Aleppo could repeat itself in Douma, in Raqqa, in Idleb. We cannot let this continue."
After days of pleading from international observers and humanitarian groups, some evacuations from the city have reportedly begun. It's still unclear how many residents remain in eastern Aleppo, and how long it would take to evacuate everyone who wishes to flee.
The heartbreak and horror experienced day in and day out by people living in literal war zones can feel worlds away for those of us lucky to live in more stable nations. But we must not let ourselves become numb or complacent about what's happening. Ahead, photos that capture the severity of the situation in Syria today. Find out more about what you can do to help here
Editor's note: This story contains images that some readers may find disturbing. Refinery29 has not taken the decision to publish these graphic images lightly. We have chosen to show them to draw attention to the ongoing Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. Read more about the crisis here, and find out how you can help here and here.