Damascene Conversion

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http://An%20ancient%20souq%20in%20the%20Syrian%20city%20of%20Aleppo%20was%20partially%20destroyed%20%20on%20Sept.%2029,%20making%20this%20medieval%20marketplace%20the%20latest%20cultural%20casualty%20in%20%20the%2019-month%20conflict%20between%20Syrian%20government%20forces%20and%20rebels.%20According%20to%20%20UNESCO,%20five%20of%20Syria's%20six%20world%20heritage%20sites%20have%20been%20damaged%20by%20the%20%20fighting%20--%20including%20the%20Crac%20des%20Chevaliers,%20an%20ancient%20Crusader%20castle%20on%20%20the%20outskirts%20of%20Homs,%20and%20the%20old%20city%20of%20Damascus.%20%20%20%20%20%20%20In%20March,%20Director-General%20of%20UNESCO%20Irina%20Bokova%20called%20for%20%20both%20sides%20to%20preserve%20Syria's%20historical%20sites.%20"I%20wish%20to%20express%20my%20grave%20%20concern%20about%20possible%20damage%20to%20precious%20sites%20and%20to%20call%20upon%20all%20those%20%20involved%20in%20the%20conflict%20to%20ensure%20the%20protection%20of%20the%20outstanding%20cultural%20%20legacy%20that%20Syria%20hosts%20on%20its%20soil,"%20said%20Bokova%20in%20a%20press%20release.%20%20Sadly,%20that%20hasn't%20happened.%20From%20crumbling%20fortresses%20%20to%20bombed-out%20mosques,%20here%20is%20a%20look%20at%20Syria's%20disappearing%20cultural%20heritage.%20%20%20%20%20%20In%20this%20photo,%20Syrians%20inspect%20damage%20in%20Aleppo's%20old%20city%20%20after%20Syrian%20regime%20forces%20shelled%20the%20area%20on%20Sept.%2030.

An ancient souq in the Syrian city of Aleppo was partially destroyed on Sept. 29, making this medieval marketplace the latest cultural casualty in the 19-month conflict between Syrian government forces and rebels. According to UNESCO, five of Syria's six world heritage sites have been damaged by the fighting -- including the Crac des Chevaliers, an ancient Crusader castle on the outskirts of Homs, and the old city of Damascus.

In March, Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova called for both sides to preserve Syria's historical sites. "I wish to express my grave concern about possible damage to precious sites and to call upon all those involved in the conflict to ensure the protection of the outstanding cultural legacy that Syria hosts on its soil," said Bokova in a press release. Sadly, that hasn't happened. From crumbling fortresses to bombed-out mosques, here is a look at Syria's disappearing cultural heritage.

In this photo, Syrians inspect damage in Aleppo's old city after Syrian regime forces shelled the area on Sept. 30.

http:// %20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20"Our%20%20hearts%20and%20minds%20have%20been%20burned%20in%20this%20fire,"%20a%20doctor%20in%20Aleppo%20told%20the%20New%20York%20Times%20on%20%20Sept.%2029.%20"It's%20not%20just%20a%20souq%20and%20shops,%20but%20it's%20our%20soul,%20too."%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Above,%20Syrian%20rebels%20take%20position%20during%20clashes%20with%20%20regime%20forces%20in%20the%20old%20city%20of%20Aleppo%20on%20Sept.%2030.

 

"Our hearts and minds have been burned in this fire," a doctor in Aleppo told the New York Times on Sept. 29. "It's not just a souq and shops, but it's our soul, too."

Above, Syrian rebels take position during clashes with regime forces in the old city of Aleppo on Sept. 30.

http://A%20fire%20raged%20through%20areas%20of%20the%2017th-century%20souq%20while%20%20Syrian%20government%20forces%20clashed%20with%20rebels.%20This%20photo%20shows%20damage%20to%20a%20%20section%20of%20the%20ancient%20marketplace%20on%20Sept.%2030.

A fire raged through areas of the 17th-century souq while Syrian government forces clashed with rebels. This photo shows damage to a section of the ancient marketplace on Sept. 30.

http://Syrian%20rebels%20take%20position%20during%20clashes%20with%20regime%20%20forces%20in%20the%20old%20city%20of%20Aleppo%20on%20Sept.%2030.

Syrian rebels take position during clashes with regime forces in the old city of Aleppo on Sept. 30.

http://Activists%20%20have%20long%20accused%20the%20Syrian%20government%20of%20targeting%20%20Sunni%20mosques,%20and%20the%20AFP%20reported%20%20on%20Sept.16%20that%20rebel%20fighters%20often%20use%20mosques%20as%20shelter%20or%20coordination%20%20points.%20Above,%20a%20boy%20plays%20on%20the%20gun%20of%20a%20destroyed%20Syrian%20tank%20partially%20%20covered%20in%20the%20rubble%20of%20the%20Azaz%20mosque%20on%20Aug.%202.

Activists have long accused the Syrian government of targeting Sunni mosques, and the AFP reported on Sept.16 that rebel fighters often use mosques as shelter or coordination points. Above, a boy plays on the gun of a destroyed Syrian tank partially covered in the rubble of the Azaz mosque on Aug. 2.

http://This%20photo%20shows%20damage%20to%20the%20minaret%20of%20a%20mosque%20partially%20%20destroyed%20by%20shelling%20from%20Syrian%20government%20forces%20in%20the%20old%20city%20of%20Aleppo%20%20on%20Sept.%2022.

This photo shows damage to the minaret of a mosque partially destroyed by shelling from Syrian government forces in the old city of Aleppo on Sept. 22.

http://A%20Free%20Syrian%20Army%20fighter%20walks%20%20inside%20a%20bombed-out%20mosque%20in%20the%20old%20city%20of%20Aleppo%20on%20Sept.%2016.

A Free Syrian Army fighter walks inside a bombed-out mosque in the old city of Aleppo on Sept. 16.

http://An%20image%20grab%20taken%20from%20AFP%20TV%20shows%20a%20Syrian%20rebel%20crouching%20inside%20%20the%20Crac%20des%20Chevaliers,%20an%20ancient%20crusader's%20castle%20near%20the%20Lebanese%20%20border,%20on%20June%2028.%20The%20castle,%20built%20from%201142%20to%201271,%20was%20originally%20%20intended%20to%20help%20European%20Christian%20invaders%20repel%20attacks%20from%20the%20local%20%20Muslim%20population.%20It%20is%20valued%20as%20a%20stronghold%20by%20both%20sides%20of%20the%20current%20%20conflict%20and%20has%20been%20the%20focus%20of%20intense%20fighting%20in%20recent%20months.

An image grab taken from AFP TV shows a Syrian rebel crouching inside the Crac des Chevaliers, an ancient crusader's castle near the Lebanese border, on June 28. The castle, built from 1142 to 1271, was originally intended to help European Christian invaders repel attacks from the local Muslim population. It is valued as a stronghold by both sides of the current conflict and has been the focus of intense fighting in recent months.

http://A%20member%20of%20the%20Free%20Syrian%20Army%20stands%20near%20the%20Crac%20des%20%20Chevaliers,%20known%20in%20Arabic%20as%20the%20"Qalaat%20al%20Hosn,"%20on%20the%20outskirts%20of%20Homs%20on%20June%2028.

A member of the Free Syrian Army stands near the Crac des Chevaliers, known in Arabic as the "Qalaat al Hosn," on the outskirts of Homs on June 28.

http://Syrian%20government%20forces%20stand%20next%20to%20the%20destroyed%20gate%20of%20%20Aleppo's%20historical%20citadel%20on%20Sept.%204.

Syrian government forces stand next to the destroyed gate of Aleppo's historical citadel on Sept. 4.

http://Syrian%20government%20forces%20gather%20at%20the%20entrance%20of%20the%20%20citadel%20in%20Aleppo%20on%20Sept.%204.

Syrian government forces gather at the entrance of the citadel in Aleppo on Sept. 4.

http://This%20photo,%20taken%20on%20Oct.%2031,%202007,%20shows%20the%20historical%20%20al-Midan%20neighborhood%20in%20the%20old%20city%20of%20Damascus%20before%20it%20suffered%20massive%20%20destruction%20from%20shelling%20in%20July.

This photo, taken on Oct. 31, 2007, shows the historical al-Midan neighborhood in the old city of Damascus before it suffered massive destruction from shelling in July.

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