Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Latest Casualty In Syria's Civil War: Aleppo's Historic Souk

Syria's civil war continues to rage on and the casualties continue rising. As the tally of those refugees displaced by the war grows to a record level in the 21st century, the body count continues rising as the tally from a Syrian military airstrike on a town near Syria's northern border was 21, including eight children. At the same time, among the latest casualties is Aleppo's historic souk, which was a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back to the 14th century.
Heavy shelling rocked Damascus and other towns today, just a day after the closing of the week-long United Nations General Assembly meeting, where world leaders spent countless hours calling for an end to the deadly Syrian crisis and Syria’s foreign minister accused members of trying to impose colonial policies on his country.

Anti-government activists reported shelling in Daraa, Idlib, and the Damascus suburb of Douma today, and at least 17 people were killed this morning as a result of the violence, according to the opposition's Local Coordination Committees of Syria. Fierce fighting in Aleppo, which began in the city's Souk al-Medina over the weekend and continued into yesterday, left the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, smoldering.

At the close of the General Assembly yesterday, no diplomatic resolution was reached on Syria, despite more than seven days of speeches where “Syria was discussed by one country after another,” reports the Associated Press.
Souks are markets that are at the heart of many cities throughout the Middle East. They are wonderous places to behold as merchants ply their wares in stalls and spices and herbs waft through the air as dry goods and foods are sold. The Aleppo souk was destroyed in the course of heavy fighting between rebel forces and Bashar al Assad's forces. Before it was destroyed, it was considered the world's largest covered souk, and fires destroyed more than 1,500 shops. Activists claim that Assad's forces used incendiary rounds in attacking rebel forces in and around the souk.

The UN General Assembly wrapped up business without taking any action on the situation.

Meanwhile, the authenticity of a video purporting to show rebels holding a kidnapped American journalist Austin Tice has been questioned. It appears that Assad's propagandists may have staged the video to discredit the rebel forces.
Joseph Holliday, a former United States Army intelligence officer who tracks Syrian rebel groups for the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, told The Post that it seemed strange that the armed men around Mr. Tice were wearing what appear to be salwar kameez, traditional clothing worn in Afghanistan, which looked very clean. “It’s like a caricature of a jihadi group,” he said. “My gut instinct is that regime security guys dressed up like a bunch of wahoos and dragged him around and released the video to scare the U.S. and others about the danger of Al Qaeda extremists in Syria. It would fit their narrative perfectly.”

The video came to light the same day that Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, scolded other countries who “clearly induce and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters,” in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.
At the same time, reports indicate that Hizbullah forces are among those killed in Syria. Their identities were revealed by Lebanese security officials upon the return of their remains to Lebanon for burial. While it isn't clear which side they fought for, Hizbullah has been generally backing Assad's regime and could have been bolstering Assad's loyalist militias.

Another one of Syria's neighbors, Jordan, caught four people trying to enter Syria.
Jordan on Tuesday charged four men with illegally trying to cross into Syria after an exchange of gunfire with Jordanian border guards last week, a military prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said three of the men were in custody following their arrest along an isolated stretch of the northern frontier with Syria.

He said the fourth man escaped after the group had shot at a Jordanian border patrol, wounding one officer. The prosecutor spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.

He said the men were all Jordanian and were armed with automatic rifles and ammunition, and had computers and mobile phones when they were arrested.
Syria has become a honey pot for jihadi groups and others seeking the experience of fighting in yet another conflict in the region.


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