Community members hold vigil for Aleppo in Ybor

- As a show of solidarity with the people of Aleppo, Syria, community members in Tampa came together on Thursday night to hold a candle light vigil in Ybor City.

"I've spent the last week watching disparate transmissions from the city of Aleppo from people who are trapped sending out messages that they believed would be their last," said Dezeray Lyn, who organized the vigil. "We wanted to let them know that we see them, we're here, their messages are reaching folks across the world and we're fighting for their safe evacuation."

In front of the immigration statue in Centennial Park, more than a dozen people prayed and held signs that read, "I stand with Aleppo," and "May love and revolution rise from the rubble of Aleppo."

Farhana Rahman brought her 5-year-old son to the vigil. She said watching women and children run for their lives in war-torn eastern Aleppo has been heartbreaking.

"I can't even imagine the kind of trauma those kids are going through," said Rahman.

She said she was especially moved by images of Omran Daqneesh, a young boy the same age as her son, who gained media attention in August, after footage was released of him sitting dazed and bloodied after being pulled from the rubble of an air strike.

"I was actually in the kitchen with my son, and he was watching part of it. I just couldn't let him watch the whole thing. It was just so heartbreaking," said Rahman.

Other sympathizers from local organizations joined the vigil, including members of CAIR, Love Has No Borders, USF Students Organize 4 Syria, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, Food Not Bombs and the Concrete Rose Collective.

"I have a lot of friends that are from Syria, and their families are just stuck in Aleppo. They're stuck in Syria, and they're really having to suffer through the crisis," said Ibrahim Rahman.

The conflict is personal for Hassan Shibly, Executive Director of CAIR, who was born in Syria and still has relatives in the country.

"Every day they can't even go by their windows, because they're afraid a government bullet may hit and strike them," said Shibly. "If we are against terrorism, then we must stand with the Syrian people, who are the biggest victims of terrorism."

A cease-fire deal was announced on Wednesday that includes mass evacuations. The evacuations began on Thursday for about 3,000 civilians and fighters in eastern Aleppo.

Evacuations are expected to continue throughout the night and into Friday, according to Syrian State TV.

Supporters in Tampa said they want to continue using their voices to bring attention to Aleppo until every civilian makes it to a safe haven.

"We want those people to know that we will follow this through. We see them, we've been watching them for the last six years, and we just want to act as support and amplify their voices," said Lyn.

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