October 1, 2012

Destruction of a World Heritage site in Aleppo

The fighting in Aleppo is destroying irreplaceable world heritage sites in Syria. This video was taken in the old city of Aleppo in the al-Saba' Bahrat (Seven Fountains) neighborhood of the city. The fountains (visible on imagery at 36° 12′ 7″ N, 37° 9′ 21″ E) are adjacent to the ancient souk that has suffered major damage in the past week.

Estimates of destroyed shops in the souk range from 700 to 1000. The entire area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site - much of it is now gone.

Here is a gist of the narration (my translation):

September 30, 2012 - Mortar rounds have caused great destruction and many fires in the al-Saba' Bahrat neighborhood. Asad and his soldiers are burning the city. His regime, his tanks, his troops are systematically undertaking an operation to burn the entire city. Oh my God.

This type of damage is probably inevitable in a civil war like what we have now in Syria. As many as 27,000 people have been killed. Both sides are determined to win at any cost, regardless of the damage done to some of the world's historic treasures.

A few weeks ago, there were reports of army artillery batteries shelling the Qala'at al-Husn (also called the Crac des Chevaliers) - the 12th Century Crusader fortress west of the trouble city of Homs - the fortress is arguably the best preserved medieval castle in the world.

The situation in Aleppo will likely get worse before there is a resolution to the crisis. Since there seems to be no interest in the West in any action other than words denouncing the regime of Bashar al-Asad, the killing and destruction will continue.

The rebels must win in Aleppo if they are to continue the fight. The regime has surrounded the city and is attempting to starve the rebels out. Given the superior firepower of the Syrian Army and the complete dominance of the sky - the Syrian Air Force has been fairly effective in spreading fear and destruction - it may be only a matter of time until the revolution in Aleppo is crushed.

If Bashar al-Asad survives this revolution, it will likely by another generation or more before people again take up arms against the government in Damascus.