Civilians caught in middle as Russia enables Aleppo siege

ALEPPO, Syria -- Bustan al Bashr was once a thriving Aleppo neighborhood, but it has been destroyed by the fighting between rebels and the Syrian government during the long civil war.

A Syrian government soldier led CBS News correspondent Debora Patta and her crew to the body of a man the soldier said had been a rebel fighter.

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A Russian general in Aleppo

CBS News

The rebels in Eastern Aleppo are being pushed back by the Syrian army, which is bolstered by Russia’s military muscle.

When a mortar landed nearby on a mobile hospital, Patta and her crew were summoned to see the aftermath.

When they got there, Russian troops and a general were waiting for them. The Russians said two nurses -- both Russian --had been killed in the attack.

“They are not opposition fighters, they are terrorists,” the general said of the rebels. “They kill civilians.”

But it is the civilians that are bearing the full brunt of the battle under Syrian and Russian bombs.

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A dangerous road out of Aleppo

CBS News

If they want to escape the bombing they must run the gauntlet; one of the only roads out of the area, on which they are vulnerable to sniper fire.

Mustafa al Mahandas, who fled to a shelter with his three sons, said the men left in Aleppo are just as scared of being killed by rebel fighters as they are of being captured and killed by pro-government fighters.

“The men left in the neighborhood are stuck in the middle, and not taking sides,” he said.

Nearby, 100-year-old Fatima Al Mahoud let out a mournful wail. “’My heart is broken for Syria,” she cried.

She also never took a side, and never imagined she would end up like this.