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World is broken even during Christmas

The images out of Aleppo are simply heartbreaking. Bombed out neighborhoods. Fleeing civilians dragging suitcases. Injured and dead children. 

On Friday, evacuations of civilians were halted after the Syrian government and rebels began shooting at each other again. Thousands of people were trying to flee villages caught in the middle of the 5-year-old civil war. Thousands made it out before the firing resumed. 

Syrian President Bashar Assad called the evacuations a historic event comparable to the birth of Christ. The survivors were leaving the last sliver of opposition-held Aleppo, The Associated Press reported. For Assad, the victory puts most major cities under his control and could mean the beginning of the end of the war. 

The evacuations — and the five years of bloodshed that preceded them — are a lot of things but an event comparable to the birth of Christ is not one of them. 

The world that looked upon Syria’s dying civilians and did nothing could more accurately compare it to the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994 or the 1995 siege of Srebrenica. A U.N. official described it as “a black chapter in the history of international relations.”

Since the war began, an estimated 400,000 people have been killed and millions have fled Syria. 

What’s happened in Aleppo has been especially disturbing. The city was the main base for rebel forces and Assad often targeted it, dropping bombs on innocent civilians trapped there. 

Here in America, we can easily ignore what’s happening in Syria. The nightly news more often has stories about Donald Trump’s ongoing Twitter wars with various people than it does about the slaughter of these innocent people. When a photo of a father carrying a toddler injured by a bomb makes its way onto Facebook, we can easily scroll past it. We can dismiss the atrocity and pretend it’s not happening. 

But those fleeing Aleppo can’t. They’ve lived under constant bombings for years. They’ve run out of food, water and shelter. They’ve watched their children die. They’ve watched as their homes were leveled. And now, their best hope is to leave. But to where? 

No matter your political views on Assad, the rebels or Russia’s involvement in the conflict, surely we can all agree that the slaughter of innocent civilians is unacceptable. 

What has happened in Syria is a reminder that humanity is littered with evil men who do evil things. History is full of their works: in Armenia, at the Holocaust, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 

Aleppo will join the list of atrocities that the world will look upon and ask: “Why didn’t we do more?”

As Christmas approaches, remember Assad’s words about the birth of Christ. The tragedy Assad is responsible for bears no resemblance to the birth of the Messiah. But it’s a reminder that the world is broken and it will take the return of Christ to put it back together.

Luke Horton is publisher of The Daily Leader. Email him at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.