Syria, In ruins

Had you been planning a fun filled trip to Syria lately? Okay, you probably haven’t with all the crazy going on over there lately.

But there was a time when Syria was a prime tourist spot. It’s markets, castles, Roman ruins, mosques, and other sacred sites were the wonder of the world. And now you’ll never get to see them. The Islamic State of Iraq And the Levant (better known as ISIS or ISIL, and not to be confused with the Egyptian goddess or the Archer spy syndicate of the same name) has blown them all up. They didn’t like them.

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The Aleppo Mosque Before ISIS

The Great Mosque of Aleppo has been a central focus of the Syrian city of Aleppo for 900+ years.

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The Dome Of The Aleppo Mosque Now

But that meant little during the fire-fight that destroyed the mosque this September.

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The Interior Of The Aleppo Mosque Now

The Syrian Army briefly re-gained the site in October.

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The Atrium Of The Ummayad Mosque In Aleppo Before

But for the largest and oldest mosque in the city of Aleppo it was too late…

The Atrium Of The Ummayad Mosque In Aleppo After

The damage was already done.

Ironically, the mosque had undergone restoration less than a decade ago. It will be a long time before the stability and funding needed to restore it once more will be in place.

Tomb Of Sheikh Qadeeb Al-Ban Al-Mosuli Before

As ISIS runs out of major monuments to destroy, it’s also going after many of the lesser known local holy places, like the 13th century tomb of sultan, scholar, and patron of the arts Sheikh Qadeeb al-Ban al-Mosuli.

Tomb Of Sheikh Qadeeb Al-Ban Al-Mosuli During

ISIS is moving at such a rapid rate it’s hard to keep track of what they’re destroying where.

Photographic evidence of the in-progress demolition is often dependent on social media posting of concerned observers and a gloating ISIS themselves.

Tomb Of Sheikh Qadeeb Al-Ban Al-Mosuli Gone

There are at least 9 other absolutely confirmed demolitions of similar shrines to secular and holy figures in the areas controlled by ISIS (so Syria and Iraq); including the destruction of the Shrine of Jonah, the Tomb of Daniel, the Tomb of Sheik Qadeeb al Ban al-Mosuli, the Tomb of Obrahim al-Faisaliyah, the Shrine of Jonah, the Shrine of Sheikh Fathi, the Tomb of Ali Ibn al-Athir, the Tomb of Sheikh Abraham, and the Tomb of Sufi Philosopher Ahmad ar-Rifa.

And there are rumors of even more that archaeologists and journalists have been unable to confirm amidst the chaos.

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The Aleppo Citadel Before

What’s disconcerting is that only 50 percent of the destruction is being directly and deliberately for ideological purposes by ISIS.

Of the half of the crimes being committed by ISIS, 54 percent of the sites they destroy are related to Shia Islam, 14 percent are connected to Sufi, 11 percent to the local Kurdish Yezidi, 9 percent to Christian groups and 4 percent are ancient sites. ISIS members are associated with the Sunni branch of Islam.

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The Aleppo Citadel Now

And while some of the remaining 50 percent of destruction falls under the category of damage during battle, a large part of it is also made up of vandalism and looting.

So while ISIS deconstructs the cultural memorials to other faiths, the remaining potentially neutral sites are being ravaged by citizens to profit off of black market sales of looted antiquities.

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The Al-Maraa Museum Before

And it’s not just the sites themselves.

World renowned museums like the al-Maraa museum in the town of Maaret Al-Numan in Syria once held one of the world’s greatest collections of Roman-era mosaic artwork.

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The Al-Maraa Museum Now

And now, it’s unclear what remains in the museum and what’s been taken out and sold on the black market to fund ISIS activities.

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The Old City Of Homs Before

It’s not just the monuments themselves that suffer.

In ancient cities like Homs even the big monuments like the Khaled Ibn Al-Walid Mosque are mixed in among the local neighborhoods and parks.

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The Old City Of Homs Now

So when they get blown up, whole neighborhoods suffer.

And vice versa. If ISIS believes rebel forces are hiding somewhere, they will destroy it, no matter what the historic value of the street.

The Norias Of Hama Before

Even useful historic things are being destroyed.

A version of the Norias waterwheels of Hama have been in place for over 1,500 years.

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The Norias Of Hama Now

And someone decided it would be awesome to turn their central spokes into a bonfire.

It’s unclear if this was ISIS themselves or hyped up locals.

The Grand Serail Of Aleppo Before

Even government buildings full of office supplies that could have been reused weren’t sacrosanct.

This was the prime minister of Syria’s headquarters.

And this is it now.

Whether ISIS tried to save all the phones, boxes of printer paper, and census records from it is unclear. And you’d think they would need things like that to help them set up an actual government like they claim they want to do.

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The Ancient Suq Of Aleppo Before

So if you had ever dreamed of visiting the sites of Syria, you’re just shit out of luck.

Your dreams of hanging out in one of the few malls ever to make it on the UNESCO world heritage list have been thoroughly dashed.

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The Ancient Suq Of Aleppo After

And if peace is ever established there, everyone is going to have a lot of re-building to do before they can even think of re-igniting their tourist industry.

By All Day

 

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