Large-scale destruction is being inflicted on the unique historical and cultural legacy of the Syrian commercial metropolis Aleppo. And the people of the city had actually only just begun to show an interest in that legacy. By Claudia Mende
Going by different names depending on the media outlet, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – Daesh, IS, ISIS, or ISIL – has made sure to gain many other titles to go along with their heinous acts in the region.
Taking over Syria and Iraq in 2014, the terrorist group went after ethnic and religious minorities, as well as numerous historic sites – which by title belong to the world, as UNESCO categorizes them.
As many thousand-year-old cities and artifacts have been demolished, bulldozed, and looted by ISIS, this list remembers 10 of the oldest and most important sites that went under attack.
1. Roman Theatre in Bosra, Syria
The Roman Theatre in Bosra has been one of Syria’s historical sites since the 2nd century AD.
The façade of the theatre was destroyed by the terrorist group, who used “dynamite, fire, bulldozers and pickaxes,” according to NPR.
2. Tetrapylon in Palmyra, Syria
After ISIS took over Palmyra in 2015, its members rampaged the Tetrapylon monument which dates back to 270 AD.
From 16 standing columns, which are a few meters away from the Roman Theatre, only four remained.
Read more from source: Remembering 10 Arab Historical Sites Destroyed by ‘Daesh’
Under the centuries-old archways in an alley in Syria’s famed Aleppo Old City, a small glimpse of the once-bustling market reemerged on Thursday, despite the ravages of war.
Restoration work has brought a small part of the famed Old City’s market back to life, and the restored arches glowed in purple lighting as traders once again plied wares including the city’s famous olive oil soap.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old City of Aleppo has been devastated by the war that began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
For four years, the Old City was a front line in the battle between rebels and government forces, who recaptured the city in full in December 2016.
A six-year civil war that has claimed well over 400,000 lives could deprive future Syrians, and the world at large, of this long-standing heritage.
Syria’s story is one that has been weaved through families from one millennium to the next. Subjugated as a Roman province under the command of Pompey the Great in 64 BC, and brought under Ottoman rule by Sultan Selim I 16 centuries later in 1516, the country has experienced its share of the world’s great military conquests. The empires that vied to establish dominance over the region left behind varied architectural and cultural legacies that were subsumed into the nation’s heritage. For Syrians, the experience of savoring the spices at the Souqs in Aleppo, or admiring the gem that is the Roman theatre in Bosra are birthrights.
Syria’s historic sites have long attested to its riveting history.
Vanessa Beeley says…
December 2016: Walking the streets of East Aleppo hours after their liberation from Nusra Front-led terrorist occupation for almost 5 years, was a sombre and harrowing experience. Watching civilians emerge from a five year imprisonment during which they had been subjected to all manner of brutality, deprivation and abuse, was deeply affecting. But the inextinguishable hope was there even then, children describing the barren, rain-swept wasteland of Jebrin as “heaven”.
Returning to Aleppo four months later in April 2017 was a revelation. Aleppo had swept its streets clean of much of the terrorist detritus, the Russian sappers had cleared vast swathes of residential areas of the terrorist, lethal mines and booby traps. The street leading to the Umayyad Mosque in the Old City was unrecognisable from the smoke wreathed, menacing battle ground that had greeted us in December 2016.
As this observer meanders through the ruins of war-torn Aleppo these days, he develops a feeling that somehow he ought to be wearing a hospital gown with gloves so as not to contaminate crushed ancient artifacts as he tries to avoid stepping on them. One feels obliged to avoid contaminating a cultural heritage crime scene.
It requires a few hours for a fascinating walking tour and briefing of the most damaged 2nd millennium BC ancient city of Aleppo that has sustained more than four years of intense bombardment and jihadist destruction, in order to acquire a sense of what’s left and how much of the old city might possibly be significantly restored.
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Aleppo has long been the urban, commercial and cultural center of northwestern Syria.
World leaders, archaeologists and historians are outraged over the devastation wrought during Syria’s six-year war on Aleppo’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that had largely survived since its construction between the 12th and 16th centuries during Arab and Ottoman rule. In July 2014, east Aleppo was seized by anti-government rebels whose advance through the Old City into west Aleppo was halted by the army. After heavy bombardment and siege, the insurgents left the war-ravaged east in December last year, and the city was reunited under government control.
Good times before
Inhabited for more than 8,000 years, Aleppo vies with Syria’s capital Damascus in claiming to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Aleppo was a key commercial centre on the Silk Road linking China and India to West Asia and Europe.
With the recent United States involvement in the Syrian Civil War, the violent situation in the Middle Eastern country looks to be escalating. The war has pushed over 13.5 million Syrians into refugee situations.
Since 2011, the civil war in Syria has decimated the country and its people; civilians have lost their homes, jobs, and loved ones to violence. Now, the people of Syria have the potential to lose something else in this bloody conflict: history.
Syria lies in the heart of the “Cradle of Civilization,” which spans from Egypt to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). Human civilizations and cultures have occupied the region for more than 12,000 years, and each one has left a lasting physical impression on the land in the form of historical landmarks,
A THOUGHT-PROVOKING series of images by a British photographer have been released showing what Syria was like just before its six-year civil war broke out.
The stunning collection of photographs shows Aleppo’s citadel which is now in ruins, the destroyed Roman Theatre and ancient tetrapylon historical ruins of Palmyra and the stunning Unesco world heritage site of the Umayyad mosque, Aleppo which was built between the 8th and 13th centuries.
Other pictures show a couple of carefree boys having a water fight in the street, people relaxing in Aleppo’s juice bars and traffic in Homs going by.
The spectacular shots were taken by photographer, Dan Bernard on a visit to Syria in 2010. Mr Bernard used a Nikon D300 to capture his pictures.
“Syria before the conflict had always intrigued me as a great location for raw un-pretentious landscape photography. ” said Mr Bernard.