For the past 5 years, an unimaginably deadly civil war has raged in Syria, splintering the once stable country into a mess of factions and sectarian violence.
The Assad regime's government forces - backed by their Russian and Iranian allies - have fought rebel groups backed by the U.S. Complicating the situation is the presence of ISIS, which controls large swaths of the eastern portion of Syria.
Estimates place the death toll over the last 5 years around 400,000+.
The rebellion against Assad has long had a stronghold in Aleppo, the country's largest urban metropolis and one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. But in recent days, it's becoming increasingly clear that Aleppo is falling, or has already fallen, to Assad's forces.
Take a look at some of these harrowing before-and-after photos to get a sense of the total destruction in Aleppo, one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes since the Yugoslav Wars of the 90's.
The indiscriminate barrel bombing by the Assad regime, and the more sophisticated (yet equally indiscriminate) aerial bombardment by the Russian air force, reminds one of the fire bombing of Dresden, Germany during World War II.
The historical architecture, vital infrastructure and social centers of Aleppo have been utterly devastated by the intense shelling. The shelling has been most intense these past 6 months, as Assad has made it a priority to put down the rebellion by any means necessary.
It's so important that the world doesn't avert its eyes from the situation in Syria. As sad and horrifying as it may be, we must reckon with the worst of human nature on display and the suffering its caused in Aleppo.
If you're affected by these horrible images, please consider making a donation to the UNICEF Child Refugees fund, which is currently prioritizing aid to the nearly 8 million Syrian children who need it so desperately.