Voices from Russia

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Religious Buildings Caught In Aleppo Crossfire

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St Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Aleppo (Aleppo GovernorateSYRIA. Both American Republicans and Democrats want to pursue a policy that would lead to the destruction of this building by Islamist fanatics and the killing or expulsion of its believers. Russia and China prevent this evil from occurring. “Axis of Evil”… its address has been 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since 1991…

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Syrian churches and mosques, symbols of the diverse fabric of the country’s religious communities, are no longer sacred in a struggle that has ravaged the northern city of Aleppo. On Thursday, rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades through a wall encircling an Armenian Orthodox church in Aleppo in an attempt to push further into the key Midan district, whilst gun battles erupted Friday during an army seizure of the nearby Ansar mosque. The St Gregory church courtyard became a battlefield as rebels, coming from their stronghold at Suleiman al-Halabi Street, met resistance from army units on the other side. The soldiers forced the rebels back into a back street through the damaged wall, whilst in the courtyard flames from a diesel fuel tank… hit during the fighting… burned unattended. With municipal services paralysed by the fighting, local residents have given up on the fire department, instead ferrying buckets of water to douse the flames themselves.

Clashes continue to rage in Midan, where fighting first broke out last Saturday, and in the nearby rebel bastions of Bustan al-Basha and Arkoub, where a unit of the élite Republican Guard Division seized a mosque. On Friday, the Republican Guards came under fire from inside the Ansar mosque, located at a strategic point in front of the Hanano military base and rebel-controlled Arkoub. According to a military source, the army recaptured the mosque after fierce clashes that killed a number of rebels and saw the arrest of several others.

A local congregant confirmed the operation and said that the rebels had been using the mosque as a shelter since its imam, the nephew of the Syrian chief mufti, or spiritual leader, fled Aleppo 20 days before. A 44-year-old government employee remorsefully told AFP on condition of anonymity, “When the rebels first took the area, they asked the people leave their homes so they could stay and fight from there. However, Arkoub is a poor place, so nobody had the money to take their family and leave, so the rebels began to stay at the mosque. I’ve been going to this mosque for more than ten years, and it means so much to me. Every time I visit this place, I feel near to God. Today, I heard the mosque is damaged, that there are bullet holes and windows are broken, but I couldn’t go to check”.

Unfortunate Casualties

Battles and shelling in and around religious structures aren’t new, and sacred buildings have become mere strategic military locations in a conflict whose daily death tolls easily reach over 100 victims per day. The spokesman of the Armenian Orthodox Diocese of Aleppo told AFP by phone that he didn’t believe either the rebels or army would attack the church on purpose, emphasising, “Syrian people don’t do that. Whatever side they’re on, Syrians always have respect for religious centres, mosques or churches”. The spokesman noted that fighting had been raging in the area for the past week, and the building was most likely an unfortunate casualty of the conflict.

A military source said that government troops backed by armoured vehicles deployed across Midan on Friday and in nearby Suleiman al-Halabi, Bustan al-Basha, and Arkoub. one Christian woman in Midan said, “The arrival of the army to the district calmed people down and helped stem the tide of displacement that we had on Wednesday and Thursday”. However, another resident wasn’t about to take his chances amid the clashes. As he fled the area with his wife and four children, Mohamed said, “The gunmen said they’d target security headquarters and that civilians should leave so they wouldn’t be wounded by the mortar fire”.

Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital, for the past two months was the focal point of fighting in the uprising against the Assad régime. Artisans and mechanics alike had closed down their shops in Midan on Friday, with the local economy paralysed by the fighting. Régime forces used helicopter gunships to attack two police stations in Midan, which the rebels had taken over on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. In the rebel-controlled Hanano district in northeast Aleppo, air strikes pummelled another police station on Friday and Saturday, the régime preferring its own brand of destruction to the rebels gaining a new base.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that over 27,000 people, the majority civilians, died in clashes in Syria since the start of the revolt in March 2011. Houses of worship are merely the latest casualties.

16 September 2012

Agence France Presse

As quoted in Asia One News

http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/World/Story/A1Story20120916-371785.html

Editor’s Note:

Do mark it down that the West (both government and media sources) are taking oppositionist propaganda at face value. That’s dangerous. There’ve probably NOT been 27,000 deaths… but there’ve been at least 10,000, I’d warrant. All too many of those are Alawis and Christians murdered by the oppositionist Islamists… something glossed over by Western sources. The American neocons and interventionists were creaming their jeans in the thought of yet another military intervention (even though such an intervention would be unaffordable, and would break the American economy and push it back to late 2007 conditions)… but Russia and China stood tall and said NO. That’s allowed patriotic elements in Syria to push the fanatic Islamists back. Reflect on this… the West wants a repeat of the wars and miseries they inflicted in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. That’s evil, full stop. Of course, the poor bloody soldiers sent to these hellholes were just following their godless orders; they’re free of any taint… the leaders have this blood upon their hands (if you want to show disrespect to a fallen soldier’s funeral, you’ll have to get through me first… I guarantee that my Zaporozhets dander will be up). However, a decent and moral person can have only one reaction to the West’s drumbeats for war:

NO!

BMD

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