The autumn and winter have seen heavy fighting in both Aleppo, Syria and Mosul, Iraq. Throughout December, the Syrian Army pushed to retake Aleppo from rebel forces, finally succeeding just before Christmas. Meanwhile in Iraq, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have pushed into Mosul in an attempt to retake it from ISIS. In both cases, the heavy fighting in populated cities has led to massive civilian casualties. Aleppo is the largest city in Syria, while Mosul is the 3rd largest in Iraq.
In Mosul, “the casualty figures are staggering, with civilians accounting for a significant number of the victims,” according to the top U.N. envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis. The same is true in Aleppo. On top of the scale of mortality, there is the extent of the displacement. Just a week into the Battle of Aleppo, 50,000 people had fled the eastern parts of the city. The Battle of Mosul is expected to displace up to a million people, according to U.N. estimates. This comes at a time when there are already more displaced people worldwide than at any time since World War Two.
The Syrian forces retaking Aleppo are backed by Iran and Russia, while the Iraqi and Kurdish forces retaking Mosul are backed by the U.S., U.K., and France.
To read more articles from the Winter 2017 issue, subscribe to our eReader edition.