September 27th, 2012
02:15 PM GMT
(CNN) - As civil war continues to rage across Syria, in the city of Aleppo, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting between government forces and the rebels, commercial life has ground to a halt.
Zak Brophy, a business journalist recently returned from the area, told CNN of his shock on entering the city.
“Whole neighbourhoods were wiped out, destruction was all over the streets, cars buried amongst the rubble, all of the businesses and markets closed,” he said.
Brophy met with some industrialists who had been prominent businessmen within the city – but who were now bank rolling and leading brigades within the Free Syrian Army, the opposition fighters.
He said the big problem in Aleppo now is the lawlessness. “There’s a lot of looting, extortion, kidnapping – I’ve heard several stories of people being kidnapped and held for ransom on their businesses.”
With businesses closed prices are spiralling as even basic good become scare – and few have the money to pay for what is available.
“The price of fuel, prices of all essentials, basic food stuffs, have skyrocketed. People aren’t really earning anymore, so there’s a real feeling of fear and trepidation for what’s coming.”
According to Brophy, Syria’s ongoing civil war has decimated Aleppo’s industrial heartland, dragging the city even further to a grinding halt.
“The big industrial estate up on the edge of the town where there used to be dozens of large scale industrial plants and 75 or so foreign companies operating and billions of dollars of investment – now it’s a ghost town, there’s nothing.
“There was one factory we found which was working to a much reduced output. Apart from that it was just guards manning places to make sure they weren’t ransacked.
“Whole areas where there were hundreds if not thousands of small businesses and medium sized enterprises within the city, these old manufacturing areas are a warzone now.”
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