Syria, the slow return to life

by Giorgio Bianchi

Occupied from February of 2012 to May of 2014 by the militia men of Jabhat Al Nusra Front, Homs, the city symbol of war and destruction in Syria, has been reconquered a few months ago and is now slowly returning to life. The area most affected by the fighting has been multi-denominational Al Hamydyya, located in the central artery of the city, a highly strategic area. To eradicate the rebel positions and not lose men in a door to door war, the Syrian government ordered the evacuation of civilians and decided to sacrifice all homes. The streets are narrow and quiet, from the height of buildings the scene is apocalyptic, and yet, now that the area has been completely made safe from the unexploded ordinance, residents are rebuilding their homes and merchants their shops. The same is true a few kilometers East of Homs, in Palmira, “pearl of the desert”, the ancient Syrian city once on the Silk Way of the Empress Zenobia, then Byzantine, then Arab. Back on the front pages around the world in May of 2015 because of the occupation of the terrorist group Daesh (Islamic State), Palmyra was conquered by the Syrian army in March of the following year, lost and then re-conquered once more in March of 2017. The avenue leading to the archaeological site still opens the door to a breathtaking panorama that is now missing the sanctuary of Bel, the temple of Baalshamin and the Roman triumphal arch, ancient ruins made to explode by the militia of the Caliphate. Inside the museum the archaeological remains have literally disappeared, the greater part of them sold on the international black market or to be found in some private collection. The Roman theater that had been the stage of beheadings thrown onto our screens is just a memory, the colonnaded street now defines for a second time the boundary between barbarism and civilization (Text by Sebastiano Caputo).