The three-year Syrian civil war had not only claimed a UN-estimated 191,300 casualties with most of them women and children; they have also destroyed some of Syria’s history in the conflict. Satellite images show the extent of destruction fighting between the Syrian regime and rebels had caused to ancient mosques, government buildings and castles. Some of these historical structures have been completely decimated.
According to University of Pennsylvania Museum Researcher Brian Daniels, they knew that the Syrian World Heritage sites had been damaged. The satellite images had shown the extent the destruction had brought to different sites.
Aleppo was hit greatly by aerial bombardment by the Syrian government. An old city dating back to 2,000BC, most of its structures, including the Great Mosque, a famous cultural and tourist site in Syria, had been pounded by bombs, causing craters in its eastern wall and shelling.
Aleppo’s Khusriwiye Mosque was completely erased. The Grand Serail was also heavily damaged, appearing with a crater on the satellite phtos.
In Bosra, buildings from the Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic periods have been ruined by bombardment and fighting. The ancient site of Palmyra was not left untouched. The Roman theatre had suffered from shelling and sniper activity. Rocket fire from infantry and shell fire from tanks have also caused damages.
Around 75 Filipino and 44 Fijian peacekeepers from two different UN posts were taken hostage by the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front. The Filipino UN post came under attack on Saturday.
The al-Nusra Front rebels claim that the peacekeeping force was protecting Israeli-controlled territory but it did not lay a finger to stop Syrian killings during the civil war just being across Golan Heights. The al-Nusra Front released a photograph of the captured peacekeepers online. Photographs of identification cards were also shown.
The al-Nusra Front statement indicated that the peacekeepers were treated well and given food and medical care. However, the group had not yet issued their demands to release the peacekeepers.
A group of 32 Filipino peacekeepers managed to retreat effectively to the Israeli side with the help of the UN’s “reaction force.”
Meanwhile, it is possible that the Fiji peacekeeper captors are not from the al-Nusra Front.
The Syrian civil war had killed more than 200,000 people in the last three years. The rebel group accused the UN of inefficiency especially after its promise of retaliation against the Syrian government, accusing the former of instigating chemical attacks that claimed the lives of many civilians, including women and children.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is accused of war crimes, as evidence from a defector showed. However, its compliance with destroying its stockpile of chemical weapons is a weak guarantee that it did not use the chemical weapons.