Walk through one of the most devastated Syrian cities
• Walk through one of the most devastated Syrian cities
Today, reporting from Homs, once the largest and most beautiful city. Homs has been one of the first cities covered by the civil war. Radical groups called it the capital of revolution. Nigina Beroeva and Ksenia Bolshakova specially prepared for my blog reporting from Homs. I draw your attention that the girls were working in the territory, which is controlled by the Syrian government.
Riots, and then the fighting began here in the spring of 2011. Actually, the harsh suppression of any dissent it began to Homs in Syria. In 2011, he was fired demonstration against the governor's policy, which has already risen almost the entire city. The city was divided: part of it controlled by official forces, the other - the armed militias and rebels. monitoring the border permanently moved. Sometimes government troops managed to recapture some areas, then they were again seized the armed radical groups. Government needed three operations to dislodge militants from Homs. City cavity was placed under control before the official troops in early 2014.
At the beginning of May 2014 the Syrian government and the rebels signed an agreement on a cease-fire in the city of Homs and the evacuation of civilians and militants. Each fighter was allowed to take a machine, a backpack with personal items, and a grenade launcher and a machine gun on each bus. Soon Homs governor announced that the Syrian Armed Forces took control of the city. And hundreds of civilians came on May 9 districts of Homs, to see what was left of their homes. People returned to their homes and trying to rebuild the city, as it could have been possible. But while some areas of the city returned to a more or less peaceful life, others still remained in the hands of militants. After a lull of several months in Homs resumed clashes. And in October, it began large-scale military operation of the Syrian army.
still heard explosions in the outskirts of Homs. From the roof of our hotel city is visible at a glance: whole and broken homes, large pictures of Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez. By nightfall, shelling and explosions could be heard more often.
In the three years of fighting most of Homs looked like a ruin. Species that we are called Stalingrad.
In some neighborhoods still do not let the locals - in the ruins still full of mines.
The accompanying us military is asked to look carefully at his feet, not to hurt the wire, do not go into the house. Although it is difficult to call houses that pile of rubble.
This is not the first "Stalingrad", which we see. We were in South Ossetia were in Debaltsevo. But every time I look at this stuffing made of concrete and bricks, lump in the throat.
Here are the street stands children's tricycle, but the sign on the booth, which used to sell sweets and other than signage is nothing left.
If you have a vivid imagination, you can easily imagine how the kids played football in the square, as traders lay out their goods in the shops, and the women bought in stores purged.
Once this street was filled with the aroma of coffee with cardamom, and now there reigns the sweet smell of corpses.
One can endlessly look for right or wrong, to count the losses on each side, but this life will not return.
The residents of these areas are scattered all over the world: someone stayed in Syria, someone languishing in a refugee camp in Turkey or Lebanon, and someone decided to try his luck in Europe.
Dead silence broken only by the murmur of the water: communication gradually reduced, and in some places the water gushing from a broken pipe. maze of streets take us deep into the area.
- I remember going to the old market, - tells us we have a military escort, pointing to a heap of ruins.
- Oh, there's bought himself of clothes. It was my favorite quarter of Homs, we came here with friends, drinking tea and smoking shisha. Now I look at these ruins and trying to see just what it was before the war.
500 people from my team were killed when repulsed the area. 17 of them were my friends. And even now, when I look at pictures of them, I start to cry. Many of my friends died in my arms. Including my closest friend. We called an ambulance, but she could not arrive in time, the roads were blocked by militants.
rise to the smashing ten-story building, which used to be the union of engineers.
Homs has been an important industrial center, is located the refinery storage tanks.
But most importantly, this city is a major transportation hub.
The ruins of the houses go beyond the horizon.
Surprisingly, among the cemetery houses, we see the flowers on the balcony.
Fawzi Albitar watered their beds, when we come to it. He was allowed to return to his home and he is trying to bring it in order.
- In my house ransacked everything, even the outlet was removed, the wires pulled out, - says Fawzi, showing the house. - In the bathroom, I put new tile, and behind it all the bullet holes. I left in the early days of the war with the whole family. A back only a year ago. I managed to get special permission from the military to come here every day and put things in order.
Fawzi spikes holes in the walls, repairing the ruined furniture. We are proud to show that he was able to do. But most of all showing off their colors.
- When the neighbors come back, I want them to see our street clean - he says, it is true, where is the neighbors and whether they are still alive, he does not know.
Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary Belt is located at the edge of the bombed area. In 2012-2013, it held the militants.
- The church was a relic - a part of the Blessed Virgin Mary Belt, - he says the father, Ibrahim, rector of the church. - But before you leave, we have replaced a real relic of a fake. When terrorists discovered forgery, that burnt this is the potter.
Father Ibrahim shows us a small room, black with soot. On the walls of gaping holes in the ground, where once there were icons. A small marble altar could not destroy - his shot from the machines (this can be seen on the trail) and tried to break, probably a sledgehammer.
Now, looking at the church, can not be said that the fighting was going on here.
New benches, washed mills.
Only two icons visible traces of break - church officials found their pieces in a pile of stones and glue.
On the facade of the building partially destroyed an ancient mosaic, according to the ministers, they have yet to collect its pieces and restore. But just two years ago, the church was burnt, with holes in the walls. This can be seen from the photographs, which were made in 2013. Parishioners restored it pretty quickly.
This church was built in the 50th year of our era to the catacombs, where there was previously another church. From Homs we head to Tartus. A short section of the road from the city is still under fire by militants. These three kilometers we pass at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour. We are asked to bend their heads.