21st Century Wire
On the 12th December 2016, I entered the Old City of East Aleppo, less than 18 hours after its final liberation from Nusra Front terrorist, and Nour al Din Zenki, extremist, occupation. The smog that enveloped the dishevelled, battle scarred, buildings of this ancient, Aleppo City, lent an eerie aspect to the devastation that greeted us as we picked our way through the debris of the last battles for the freedom of this, UNESCO World Heritage Site, city.
Evidence of the fierce, house to house, street to street, fighting was littered everywhere. The overturned buses, the demarcation line, between the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) and the various Nusra Front-led extremist factions that had occupied the City and deliberately destroyed so many of its iconic buildings.
We walked towards the Umayyed Mosque, that had been used as a military centre and sniping tower by the various extremist factions until 4pm the day before.
“The Great Mosque of Aleppo (Arabic: جامع حلب الكبير Jāmi‘ Halab al-Kabīr) or the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo (جامع بني أمية بحلب Jāmi‘ Bani Umayah Bi-Halab) is the largest and one of the oldest mosques in the city of Aleppo, Syria. It is located in al-Jalloum district of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a World Heritage Site, near the entrance to al-Madina Souq. The mosque is purportedly home to the remains of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. It was built in the beginning of the 8th century. However, the current building dates back to the 11th through 14th centuries. The minaret was built in 1090″ ~ Wikipedia
The East Aleppo Council on the left, comprised members of Nour al Din Zinki, including one of the beheaders of 12 year old Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa. On the right, SAA soldiers who fought to liberate the Mosque and the Old City with Fares Shehabi, Aleppo MP and head of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce.
As we entered the road leading to the Umayyed Mosque a female soldier appeared from one of the side roads. Her expression of disbelief and reflection was profound and I took her photograph as we passed by.
Today, while researching, I stumbled upon the following video that focuses upon the same soldier, Rose. This is a fitting tribute to the soldier I saw that day, in the Old City: