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, March 03, 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
Airport tax hike move leaves fliers confused
New laws set to intensify punishment for poaching
Craftsman day to be marked today
147m rials invested to boost power distribution
Other Top Stories
US envoy holds first meeting with Hadi in Aden
Iraq forces begin Tikrit offensive
Bio-terror bacteria gets out from US laboratory
Iran withholding key information, says IAEA chief
Tajik veteran to retain power, monitors cry election fraud
India
Congress names new chief in 5 states, Rahul’s imprints show
Marans appear in court in 2G case, seek bail
Prachi calls for boycott of films by three Khans
Fadnavis ‘VIP culture’ kicks up dust in House
Rajendran is new CPI chief in Kerala
PM eats at Parliament canteen, pays Rs29
Government on back foot over Mufti remarks
Fund collection by political parties rises 5 fold to Rs22b
Government brings cheer for Persons of Indian Origin
AAP rift out in open, Yogendra and Bhushan could face tough action
Nirbhaya accused blames victim
‘Accusations’ will not end communalism
Pakistan
PPP involved in horse trading with JUI-F: Imran
Improper storage damages kids’ vaccines worth $3.7m
Sharif will listen to complaints on helpline
Cops hunt for inmates who fled from Gilgit prison
Man, sister get death for murdering mother-of-five
Austria mission gets melodious start
Middle East
Abadi urges army to spare civilians in battle for Tikrit
Fire guts Jordan motor home, 4 refugees die
Haftar named Libya army chief, UN talks hit wall
Hamas’ path to reconciliation with Iran proves far from simple
Bomb blast near top court in Cairo wounds 11
Reopening of museum takes Baghdad residents by surprise
Asia
Chief suspect in American blogger murder arrested
Philippine army seizes MILF base, bomb factory in south
N. Korea fires missiles over South-US military drills
Anti-China activists clash with cops in new HK unrest, 38 held
Australian paedophile, 51, abused 18-month-old girl
155m view China smog film on Day 1
Business
Road gets smoother for family firms to tap MSM
Samsung unveils sleek S6 to take on iPhone
BankDhofar gets CBO approval to raise $300m fund
India’s tweaked policy targets inflation at 4%
India factory output slips to 5-month low
India budget shows commitment to keep fiscal deficit low: S&P
5G to be next big thing in wireless networks
Europe
Kerry, Lavrov in ‘hopeful’ talks to end Kiev crisis
Nemtsov murder was work of low-level criminals, say police
US army chief ‘concerned’ over Britain’s defence cuts
Erdogan tells finance minister to ‘shape up’
German ex-MP to settle porn case
Emwazi was part of group linked to failed London bombers
Sports
Cup triumph brings out kid in Mourinho
Schmid on track for double title success
Dalmiya is back as chief of BCCI
De Villiers looms large over Ireland
Strong bench key to Proteas’ campaign
Mountain fires worry Steyn ahead of landmark match
Mooney works on own helmet for safety
Ireland won’t be intimidated by SA, says captain
Swing kings put skids under run spree
Cummins to miss match against Afghanistan
Aussies’ Maxwell mocked for Kiwi ‘choke’ gesture
India are big tournament team: Hogg
Watson critics crank up heat after latest false start
Real squander chance to extend lead

Sports


International

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