Goodbye Aleppo

An unfiltered view from the streets of a dying city

Goodbye Aleppo A team of four young citizen journalists document their final days in Aleppo as the battle rages around them. The friends are trapped under a constant barrage of shells as government forces creep further into the flattened remains of East Aleppo. Uniquely told through first-hand accounts, this BBC Arabic documentary is a gripping and heart-wrenching story of defiance and vitality in the face of devastating loss – of family, friends, a city, and a dream.

Winner of the 2017 Rory Peck Sony Impact Award and the 2017 Grierson Award for Best Current Affairs Documentary.

Siraj and Basim sit in their office as they prepare to leave Aleppo. The city is now 90% under government control. As they burn the incriminating documents they cannot take with them, they remember the friends and family who they will leave behind. They are reticent about the path taken since the heady days of 2011. "We deviated from what we demonstrated for... If we'd all stayed united as we were at the beginning of the revolution, when we sang 'One, One, the Syrian people are One', then perhaps we wouldn't have been forced to leave", says Siraj.

Armed with handheld cameras and phones, Mojahed, Basim, Ahmad, and Siraj dodge sniper​s​ and barrel bombs as they record the final days of rebel-held East Aleppo. In the midst of the chaos and destruction, the young men, who were just students when the civil war started, retain their sense of humour. Recently married Basim jokes about Siraj's perennial singlehood. Siraj retorts grinning, "at least my load is light. If I have to move or leave I just put my bag on my back and go. This guy has responsibility".

The young men scour the city finding the stories of the civilians trapped in the ever-shrinking rebel-held districts. They meet scared young girl, no older than 12. The previous night a chlorine bomb exploded outside their house. She points at the rocket as she recounts how she breathed in the gas and fainted. She brightens as the journalists ask her what she'll eat once the siege is over. "I'd want a big apple! We don't have any, and no sweets." Despite a childhood overshadowed by war, she has not given up hope. "I can't wait for the road to open!"

As he prepares to leave, Siraj visits the street he was born in. "Sometimes all we can do is smile, to suppress the intense pain in our hearts". He has never left Aleppo before, and now he must leave a city in ruins, with no certainty as to when he might return. "In every corner of this neighbourhood I have memories." As he turns and walks down the street he bids farewell to the city of his birth. "I pray to God I'll come back one day. Goodbye to you, Aleppo."

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