Reconstruction ongoing in war-scarred Ancient City of Aleppo

admin   •   December 27, 2018   •   2636

 

Citadel of Aleppo | Reuters

Post-war reconstruction has been ongoing in the Ancient City of Aleppo since the Syrian government recaptured the city from opposition forces in December 2016.

It has been two years since fighting ended in Aleppo, once Syria’s economic hub, and the previous war zone has been recovering, albeit slowly, since reconstruction efforts were launched in the city.

The Citadel of Aleppo in the center of the Ancient City, which used to be on the front line, has now opened to tourists after renovation, and when weather permits, it even hosts cultural events.

“It’s actually beautiful and it’s really an achievement we really did that we took it back,” said a local of Aleppo, adding “It’s actually really beautiful and a real beautiful feeling that we can come here and visit it again.”

Around the citadel, many stores have reopened and street vendors have also started selling.

“I sell sweet corn around here and the business is good. I can sell a lot in summer and business is also quite good in winter,” said a local street vendor.

However, walking deeper into the historical heart of Aleppo, there still lie signs of destruction, with gutted buildings, walls pockmarked with bullet holes, and piles of rubble along the streets.

The reconstruction is ongoing, but it is expected to be a long process.

According to a deal reached between Russia and Turkey in September, a demilitarized zone has been set up on the border of the opposition-controlled area of Idlib. With Aleppo remaining a target of the militants, it is unlikely that a highway linking to Idlib will open by the end of the month.

But locals are still hopeful that peace will finally return to Aleppo and other parts of the country.

“I hope that Aleppo will never see any war again. We all hope so and we hope that Idlib will be also liberated as soon as possible,” said a vendor. — Reuters

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Death of Al-Baghdadi, not the end of ISIS — Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2019

People walk amound the rubble of destroyed buildings at the site that was hit by helicopter gunfire which reportedly killed nine people, including Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS or so-called Islamic State, near the village of Barisha, Idlib province, Syria, 27 October 2019 (issued 28 October 2019). EPA-EFE/YAHYA NEMAH

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang expressed relief in the recent demise of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Syria.

The Palace, however, acknowledged that such report couldn’t do much to resolve global terrorism involving the militant group ISIS.

“The death of a leader does not mean the extinction of that group,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

“Then again, it may also cause discouragement the on the part of the terrorist group. But as far as we are concerned, whether the leader dies or not, we will secure that part of our country from them,” he added.

Al-Baghdadi was reportedly killed in an operation initiated by the United States Special Forces in Syria.

No less than U.S President Donald Trump broke the news on Sunday (October 27) saying Al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest when US troops cornered him in a dead-end tunnel in Northwest Syria, in defiance to his impending arrest.

“Last night the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump said in a televised speech.

“He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast, the tunnel had caved in on it,” Trump added.

The terrorist leader’s identity was confirmed through a DNA test from the human specimen recovered in the blast site.

“The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years,” Trump continued.

“Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration. U.S special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night-time raid in north-western Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style,” he added.

Trump expressed gratitude to the governments of Turkey, Russia, Syria and Iraq for their support to the success of the operation.

It was in 2010 when Al-Baghdadi started to lead the Islamic State carrying US$25M bounty on his head. — MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Turkey created a ‘very terrible’ situation in Syria – Pentagon chief

Robie de Guzman   •   October 24, 2019

US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday (October 24) criticised Turkey for its military incursion into Syria, saying it had put the U.S. and its allies in a “very terrible situation”.

Last week, Esper said he would press NATO allies “to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response” to Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, even as critics have pointed out that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision enabled the Turkish offensive. Earlier this month, Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing its troops from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkish troops to launch an offensive against Kurdish fighters in the area.

“There was not a possibility that we were going to start a war with a NATO ally,” Esper said.

Speaking at an event organised in Brussels by the German Marshall Fund think tank, the Defense Secretary urged Ankara to demonstrate that it was still a “responsible” NATO ally.

The American pullout from northeastern Syria has raised concern that it could allow a resurgence of Islamic State militants.

Esper said he already talked to his British and French counterparts and that the U.S. was still committed to continue the fight against Islamic State militants. He was expected to discuss the topic further at a meeting of NATO defence ministers later in the day. (Reuters)

(Production: Christian Levaux, Jorrit Donner-Wittkopf)

U.S. Defense Minister to discuss Syria troop withdrawal with Iraqi counterpart

Robie de Guzman   •   October 23, 2019

A handout photo made available by Iraqi prime minister office shows Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (R) meeting with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper (L) at his office in Baghdad, Iraq, 23 October 2019. Esper made an unannounced visit to Iraq that coincides with the Turkish offensive and the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria to inside Iraq. EPA-EFE/IRAQI PRIME MINISTER OFFICE

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday (October 23), where he is likely to face questions about how long U.S. troops withdrawing from northeast Syria will stay in Iraq.

The Iraq military said on Tuesday (October 22) that U.S. forces crossing into Iraq as part of a pull-out from Syria do not have permission to stay and can only be there in transit.

While Esper initially told reporters the troops withdrawing from Syria would go to western Iraq to fight Islamic State and “help defend Iraq,” he said on Tuesday that Washington aimed to eventually bring the troops back to the United States.

Esper met his Iraqi counterpart Najah al-Shammari and is expected to meet Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to discuss the U.S. troop drawdown from Syria and the role Iraq will play in it. (Reuters)

(Production: Haider Kadhim, Mohammed Al-Ramahi, Maher Nazeh, Mohammed Katfan, Louisa Naks)

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