Omantribune
Oman Tribune
Omantribune
Omantribune Search News
Web Oman
    Google Search Button
      Tribune
- Oman
- Soccer World Cup
- Other Top Stories
- Middle East
- Business
- Sports
- India
- Pakistan
- Asia
- Europe
- Americas
- Columnists
- Editorial
- Oman Mirror
- Special Features
- Cinema
- PDF Pages
- Weather
- Travel
- Currency Rate
- Hospitals
- Pharmacies
- Services
- Flight Timings
- Museum Timings
Omantribune Home Omantribune About Us Omantribune Advertising Information Omantribune Archives Omantribune Subscribe-Form Omantribune Jobs Omantribune Contact Us
Tuesday, January 27, 2015  

Experts fear more damage to Aleppo heritage sites as clashes rage
ALEPPO As the battle for Aleppo closes in on the historical centre in northern Syria, heritage sites in one of the world’s oldest cities are being damaged and experts fear the worst is yet to come.

In Bab Al Nasr neighbourhood, a Free Syrian Army rebel pointed to a gaping hole in the base of the delicately chiselled minaret of the 700-year-old Mahmandar mosque.

“Bashar Al Assad’s forces don’t respect anything, not our history, not our religion,” said the fighter, who sported a short black beard and green bandana, broken glass crackling under his feet as he walked into the prayer room.

So long as the rebels maintain a position next to it, the mosque is likely to be hit again by shelling or sniper fire from the nearby Aleppo Citadel, the iconic medieval fortress that crowns the Unesco-listed ancient city.

Rebels seeking to seize Syria’s second city and oust President Bashar Al Assad have been conquering street after street, inching closer to the old city.  Loyalist forces who have relinquished control of the ground have pounded rebel positions with tank shells or from the sky with helicopters and fighter jets, often causing extensive damage.

According to Unesco, five of the country’s six world heritage sites have been affected by the violence: Damascus, Palmyra, the Crac des Chevaliers crusader castle, the ancient northern villages (or forgotten cities) and Aleppo.

But the threat facing the immeasurable heritage of Aleppo, considered the best preserved ancient city in the Middle East, is perhaps the greatest.

The Citadel itself was hit earlier this month and its Mamluk-era gate severely damaged.

“From a military point of view, the Citadel is still almost as important as it was 500 years ago but even if we surround it completely, I think it would be hard to capture it,” said Abu Mohamed, a rebel commander.

The castle, which sits atop a steep artificial hill towering above the area, is said to have been successfully stormed only once, by Mongol ruler Tamerlane in 1400.

The Syrian army on Wednesday recaptured three Christian areas in the heart of Aleppo. “The army had to retake these neighbourhoods because many homes have tunnels leading to the nearby Citadel,” a resident said.

Unesco chief Irina Bokova has expressed alarm at the situation in Aleppo and urged both sides to protect the city’s cultural heritage.

In a statement, the UN agency said it was also coordinating with partners such as Interpol and neighbouring countries “to prevent the smuggling of antiquities as a result of theft in museums and historical sites.”

Some artefacts have already been stolen from the Palmyra museum and Aleppo’s rich national museum is a stone’s throw from the fast moving frontline.

Earlier this week, fighting raged in Jdeideh, an old neighbourhood home to part of Aleppo’s Christian district.  Machinegun fire, mortars and tank shells, pipe bombs and rocket-propelled grenades rained on the meandering streets and high walls designed to protect elegant homes from the blaze of the sun and the gaze of strangers.

Some of the ornate Ottoman-era wooden balconies typical of the area were destroyed by the fighting.

“It is hard at this time to make an accurate assessment of the destruction,” said Thierry Boissiere, an anthropologist and expert on Aleppo’s heritage.

“The worst may yet be to come. There is no doubt that the risk of largescale destruction is considerable and that the Syrian regime is capable of razing part of the city” as a military strategy, he said.

“The Free Syrian Army has shown some consideration for heritage but it is not a priority at a time when the main goal is ousting the regime,” Boissiere said.

Agence France-Presse
NEWS UPDATES
Oman
Adam lends everyone a patient ear
Moroccan magic at its best
SMEs single–window station to be operational by Dec.
Mukul unfurls Indian flag to mark R-Day
Shura Council to host Hasani on Jan. 28, 29
IDF Oman expo to feature 82 firms
ITA launches paperless drive
Indian schools mark Republic Day with patriotic fervour
Other Top Stories
Syria opposition begins 4-day talks in Moscow
Houthis block access to Sanaa University to stop protests
Millions brace for monster blizzard in US
Giant asteroid set to buzz past Earth: Nasa
Venezuela bars former LatAm presidents from meeting Lopez
India
Visit reflects Obama’s resolve on deepening ties with Delhi: Rice
Cartoonist RK Laxman dies at 94
2 army heroes honoured with Ashoka Chakra
Woman who saved 10 during Bihar arson hoists tricolour
Delhi, Beijing must ‘not fall into trap’
Rain fails to dampen R-Day spirit
Obama to join Modi in radio address
Modi-Obama ‘bromance’ continues during parade
Obama moots steps to boost trade volume
Delhi help could be ‘relevant to contain terror’
Pakistan
Baloch areas still in dark, pylons yet to be repaired
Structural problems in energy sector lead to fuel shortage: IPR
Cops shoot dead teen linked to kid murder case
Curbs on using amplifiers help police tackle hate preachers
US’ top forensic expert helps cops solve crimes
Trauma centres to heal mental scars of terror
Middle East
Kurds drive out Baghdadi militia from Kobani
Libya rebels free minister as peace talks resume
Egyptian doctor gets jail in FGM case
S. Arabia to push ahead with fiscal diversification
Rabat arrests Algerian linked to tourist’s killing
Honey sweetens life of S. Sudan’s poor
Asia
50 cops killed as Philippine troops clash with MILF
‘Lizard Squad’ hacks Malaysia Airlines, user data at risk
Indonesian top anti-graft official quits amid row
Party not to protest against 5-year ban on Yingluck
Australia knighthood to Philip sparks uproar
Kid’s abuse fuels CCTV buying frenzy
Business
Brent crude slips as S. Arabia sticks to energy policies
Euro sinks to 11-year low on fears of Greece exit
Pakistan under Moody’s scanner after fuel crisis
Oman Oil net profit rises to 11.2m rials
Swiss gold exports to India crossed $19.5b last year
India sets stage for banking revolution
RBI norms to hit bank loan pricing
India current account to ‘swing into surplus’
Mahindra to boost renewables business
Japan trade gap widens to $109b on oil imports
German business confidence picks up
Investment bankers flock to help super rich on hopes of high profits
BoE likely to raise interest rates soon: Forbes
Europe
Left, Right share power in Greece
Rebels move to encircle Kiev military town
UKIP leader changes stance, joins Tory camp
Uganda warlord appears at ICC
Church of England breaks tradition, appoints first female bishop
Sports
South Korea storm into Asian Cup final
‘Sleeping giant’ India yet to wake up to Asian Cup
Hosts Australia wary of UAE
Lyon on a roll with seventh win
Drogba wants to remain with Chelsea
Brazil’s domestic league in a shambles after player exodus
Valencia rout Sevilla to go fourth
Guinea’s ‘Cinderella story’ continues
Hawks extend franchise record win streak
Haas grinds out win at LA Quinta
Al Hoqain Team get green playground
Venus fireworks light up Australia Day
Paes, Sania reach quarters in Melbourne

Sports


International

© 2013 Oman Tribune. All rights reserved. Best viewed in 800 X 600 resolution