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Crisis in Syrian city of Aleppo hitting close to home for some in SoCal

FILE PHOTO: Syrians leave a rebel-held area of Aleppo during an operation by Syrian government forces to retake the embattled city.
FILE PHOTO: Syrians leave a rebel-held area of Aleppo during an operation by Syrian government forces to retake the embattled city.
Karam al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images

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The civil war bloodshed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo is hitting close to home for some Syrians in Southern California. 

Ibrahim Nabhan left Aleppo more than 30 years ago and now lives in Rancho Cucamonga, but his immediate family stayed in Syria. In recent years, he said, his family has been decimated.

“I have over 30 members of my family that have been killed in the last six years in this war,” Nabhan said.

Among them was his mother. who died after she was injured in the conflict. A cousin was recently killed in the violence, he added.

But Nabhan still returns to the region. He said he has volunteered with relief efforts around Aleppo and on the Turkish border that provided food for the displaced and helped orphans. Last month, he traveled to the Turkish border, where many displaced Syrians have fled.

Aleppo has been targeted by the government and its Russian ally in an ongoing effort to retake the area from insurgents. As the on-again, off-again evacuation of Aleppo plays out, some Syrian Americans in Southern California say they are doing what they can to help the refugees seeking safer ground.

“We’ve collected clothes, new clothes, winter clothes, used clothes, shoes, blankets — and we’ve sent two containers,” said Hassan Twiet, a Syrian American who lives in Anaheim and is with the Los Angeles chapter of the Syrian American Council.

The immigrant group is working with Sunrise USA, a Syrian American charity based in Michigan, to send basic necessities via Turkey to those fleeing Aleppo. 

Twiet said supplies will be distributed to Syrian refugees in Turkey and areas like the northern Idlib Province near the border, where many Aleppo survivors have taken refuge.

A number of groups are accepting donations for aid to Syrian refugees, among them UNICEF and the International Rescue Committee. The site Charity Navigator has a detailed list.

Syrian immigrant organizations in the United States include Sunrise USA and the Syrian American Council.