This is the text of a letter I sent to the Financial Times on 7/10.16 – not published:
The Western media have reported at length on conditions in Aleppo, usually from the rebel anti-government side. Writing from Lebanon and Turkey, they have reflected the views of Al Arabya and Al-Jazeera. They have also described military preparations for liberating rebel-held Aleppo and ISIS-held Mosul.
I can say that I visited government-held Aleppo, with British colleagues, in early September. I saw normal civilian life, despite sporadic mortar attacks by insurgents. I also witnessed the total destruction, especially of factories, along the Castello Road and in the northern suburbs, both said to have been caused by jihadis.
If both Aleppo and Mosul are to be freed, I trust that lessons will be learnt from what happened at Ramadi and Fallujah (in Iraq), for the protection of the remaining civilians.
There is still a more important question. Why is it thought right to liberate Mosul, but wrong to drive out perceived rebels and terrorists from the fraction of Aleppo, that they still hold?