Qatar has ordered the cancellation of its national day celebrations to show solidarity with the people of Aleppo during the ongoing shelling by Syrian government forces.
Qatar marks its national day on December 18 with a parade along Doha’s corniche in the morning, various cultural events throughout the day, and fireworks in the evening.
Its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, announced the decision to cancel Qatar National Day activities in a statement, the official Qatar News Agency reported.
“In solidarity with our people in the city of Aleppo, those who are subjected to the worst kind of repression and torture, displacement and genocide, his Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, has ordered cancellation of all celebrations and events of the national day,” it said.
— Ms. Hala – #WearAMask (@MsHalaCo) December 14, 2016
The cancellation comes after Syrian government forces renewed shelling on the last pockets of resistance in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, raising fears a deal to evacuate the devastated city of civilians and fighters might not be honoured.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in an interview with Al Jazeera, accused the Syrian government of committing crimes against humanity, adding that even if it takes over Aleppo the rebels will continue to fight.
“The humanitarian situation there is catastrophic, there are no hospitals operating now, people are wounded and there are dead bodies that cannot be evacuated because it is besieged,” the foreign minister said.
Syria’s conflict started as a largely unarmed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. It quickly morphed into a full-scale civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and left more than half the country’s prewar population displaced.
In 2014, Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in Qatar were cancelled out of solidarity with the people of Gaza.
Israeli air raids and intense bombing left 2,251 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded. More than 12,000 homes were destroyed in the war and 100,000 damaged.