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Thursday, February 22, 2018

“Terrified”: the reporting from a place of mass executions in Syria

The Syrian province of HOMS is one of the most affected by the hostilities. Destroyed villages and cities, thousands of refugees, destroyed infrastructure – a legacy left to the inhabitants of the terrorists. Now the province is gradually getting better peaceful life. Correspondent “MK” was visited in the ancient citadel the Krak Chevalier, suffered from the hands of the militants and saw the centre of a de-escalation of the conflict, where the duty is Russian military police.

photo: Alexander Stepanov

The first thing that catches the eye at the entrance to the city of HOMS, the majestic fortress that stands on top of a hill. The road to the fortress is very steep and the bus, climbing higher, strained humming of the engine, periodically trying to stall. At the foot of the hill lies a small village, surrounding the fortress. They lived before the war both Muslims and Christians. Now, however, is almost desolate. Most of the houses almost completely destroyed during the fighting of the Syrian army against the terrorists. Next to the crumpled explosions buildings at the roadside bushes grow figs and pomegranate. They hang ripe fruit, but no one collects. People are in no hurry to return to their war-torn home. The last sharp turn and you will see the fortress affecting its scope. Tall thick walls, the perimeter of which are even more high towers, deep moat. The feeling is that you became a member of a film about knights and here-here will emerge from the gate, the crusaders, clad in armor.

photo: Alexander Stepanov


The citadel the Krak des Chevaliers one of the most famous fortresses in the world. It is first and foremost an outstanding military fortification which is a UNESCO monument. It is included in the list of international heritage. The citadel is divided into two parts – internal and external strength. The first mention of it date back to the 11th century. It was founded by crusaders, then she passed from hand to hand. And everyone who owned it, was introduced into the architecture of their changes. The citadel can accommodate up to 2 thousand people. The last big construction Tower Bi Bars. The fortress was built thoroughly, and despite the fact that it stands on top of a hill, excavated here 23 water source. Here the crusaders rebuilt the Church, the bathhouse, canteens, hospital and school. The citadel was a small town where there was everything necessary for life.

The Director of the Museum of the fortress Hiring Muhab has been working here for 20 years. She knows in the citadel every nook and talks about her as a living person. Says the most terrible moments experienced in the winter of 2012, when the citadel was captured by the militants. A detachment of 700 people came to the province of HOMS from Libya and became the boss of the fortress and in the nearby villages. The militants had collected tribute from the villages, and from the fortress controlled a strategic area of the road leading from HOMS to Latakia.

The Syrian army entered the fortress on 21 March 2014 and raised over one of the towers of the Syrian flag.

– I saw with my own eyes, as I live close to the fortress, to be honest I even cried tears of joy, remembers Hiring her eyes and again tears. – March 23 we returned to the citadel and what we saw, led us in horror. Militants have looted all that there was. The historical values stored in the Museum, the equipment, take even the personal belongings of the employees. All that failed to carry, were mercilessly destroyed. We just kicked and banned to appear here.

Than not hit the barbarians of the 21st century historical monument is unclear, but the militants set fire to the premises, destroyed all the lights, laid in the walls bombs and undermine them. Everyone who tried to approach the fortress – shot. Here was executed the Syrian soldiers, who were holding down the Fort. Demonstration and killed with cruelty, removed their atrocities on video.

The historical premises, the militants have converted for my personal use. In one of them — before the former local brig – militants organized the staff. The recruitment says that here they have installed the satellite antenna, made Lounges, dining room, shower set and toilets.

Now the castle is under reconstruction, but they are far from completion. For the full restoration of the fortress will take at least $ 80 million. Request was sent to UNESCO and from there gradually come the money.

When asked about how many tourists visited the fortress before the war, the Director sighed and smiled ruefully.

– Earlier in the year the fortress was visited by about a million people a day there could be up to nine thousand visitors. Also came film group, filmed historical movies. Now of course nothing. Syria is not to tourism, although we are open and ready to take the tour, says Recruitment.

photo: Alexander Stepanov


In the province of HOMS there are several areas of de-escalation. Simply put, it is the checkpoints on one side of which is the Syrian army, with other moderate opposition. The guarantor that any provocation will not be here, is the Russian military police that is on duty round the clock in these areas. One of the areas desclee is located near the village of al-Rastan. It works for about two months. From here to the positions of militants less than a mile. With the two sides of the checkpoint separating the warring sides lined up the queue. Men, women, old people who want to get on the territory controlled by the opposition come to the table, where the Syrian military and on duty members of our military police. People show documents, present to inspection of personal items and received good, move on to the other side. Mostly people are going, Laden with Syrian bread. As it turns out, is a local small business. With parties under the control of official authorities, in the area controlled by the rebels, are on sale bread. On the other hand are vegetables and fruits. Such informal trade allows you to earn a little.

From the side controlled by the opposition, our eyes lined up. People are waiting for when they start handing out Russian humanitarian aid. Representatives of the Russian center of reconciliation explain that humanitarian aid is handed out to all comers, from whatever side they came. Of course, first and foremost, get it women and the elderly. As soon as the Russian Trucks with humanitarian aid lined up at the checkpoint – the queue started the excitement. People began to push each other to be the first to get the coveted package with cereals and flour. Some went to the trick and pushed to get the children to their pitiful cries attracted the attention of the Russian military, handing out packages.

The representative of the center of reconciliation, Colonel Alexander Sazonov, says that this transition weekly is delivered over 10 tons of humanitarian cargo. Here are also deployed medical division of the center for reconciliation, where assistance is provided. He explains that this transition is necessary in order that civilians have become hostages of war, could see their friends and families, buy necessary products.

In the last five years met family and friends, was not provided adequate medical care. Now this process has moved forward, and visible positive trend, the officer said. – A day an item goes through about 10 thousand people.

The Deputy Governor of HOMS province told reporters that the province suffered the biggest damage from fighters and suffered heavy losses.

– The people of the province want peace and is doing everything possible to reign in humanity. Our people took the decision to protect the world, and now the situation has stabilized. We are working on the reconciliation process and try to solve the problem by peaceful means and not military. After we started the process of reconciliation, we began to restore peaceful life — power plants, water pumping stations and so on. Soon we will finish the recovery process throughout the province. The military police of the Russian Federation, and observers monitor the ceasefire. The Syrian army has made commitments in the ceasefire and in spite of attempts that are undertaken by terrorists for violations of this regime, we will not respond to these provocations. We want to thank our Russian partners for the assistance they render us.


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