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Syrian refugees in a camp in the Idlib province

After Aleppo Inferno, Idlib To Become 'Purgatory'

For moderate, unarmed rebels, as well as anyone wanted by the government, the rapid and brutal offensive to retake east Aleppo is a sign of what’s to come elsewhere in Syria.

BEIRUT — In the final hours of the siege in Aleppo, as the Syrian military and allied militias closed in on Tuesday, the people who had once dreamed of a free country spoke of more immediate things: the freezing December rain that slicked the streets as people tried to escape. Families huddled in basements. The mother begging for help on her cell phone as she and her three children were trapped under their bombed building — until the line finally went silent.

"Hearing an ambulance is a good sign of life, I guess," said teacher Wissam Zarqa in a voice message to a WhatsApp group conversation used by Aleppo residents to communicate with the outside world. "With the rain, less helicopters in the sky."

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