Syria Before and After: These sobering photos show a war-torn Aleppo
On Tuesday, United Nations ambassador Samantha Power had harsh words for her Syrian, Iranian and Russian colleagues, whom she accused of "being incapable of shame" in allowing the devastation in Syria to reach new heights.
"When one day there is a full accounting of the horrors committed in this assault of Aleppo — and that day will come, sooner or later — you will not be able to say you did not know what was happening," Powers said on the U.N. floor. "You will not be able to say you were not involved. We all know what is happening. And we all know you are involved."
The same day, Reuters reported that the Syrian army was enjoying the "last moments before declaring victory" in Aleppo, where "nonstop" bombings had dealt the final blows to rebel forces. A civilian trapped in the destruction told the outlet the situation could best be described as "Doomsday."
As the crisis in Aleppo continues to escalate, it's hard to imagine what the city looked like before — before relentless airstrikes reduced a city of stunning architecture and ancient artifacts to a pile of rubble.
Olympia Restaurant, a restaurant based in Syria, has maintained a catalogue of before-and-after photos, documenting the devastation of the battle in Aleppo, which began in 2012.
Since then, of course, things have only grown worse.
Indeed, there have been many signs that the situation in Syria has reached a definitive point of no return. In early December, a family in Aleppo who had been sending live updates on the status of their war-torn city sent out a series of "goodbye" tweets before their Twitter account was ultimately deleted.
Those who'd survived the collapse of their city were faced with renewed terror when Bashar Assad troops swept eastern Aleppo, killing men, women and children indiscriminately.
Abdullah Othman, the head of one of Aleppo's largest rebel groups, told the Daily Beast that on Tuesday 20 women committed suicide in order to escape rape.
Along with the loss of human lives and dignity has come the destruction of important cultural and religious sites — from shopping malls to marketplaces to mosques, like the Umayyad Mosque shown above.
According to the Guardian, the mosque, which is in a Unesco World Heritage site, dates to between the 8th and 13th centuries and famously housed the remains of John the Baptist. The mosque became a "key battleground" in July 2012.
Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmed Badr al-Din Hassoun called the mosque, an Islamic heritage site, and "crown of Aleppo," recalling in an interview published Wednesday with Reuters the times he would give sermons there at dawn.
A woman walking amid the wreckage told the outlet simply, "Our memories have been erased."