International support for Syria ‘loose’

Updated 16 January 2013
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International support for Syria ‘loose’

BEIRUT: The deputy head of the main opposition coalition criticized world yesterday for failing to make good on promises to help the group isolate the embattled president.
Pledges of support from states had proven cosmetic and “loose”, the group’s Vice President George Sabra told an Arabic newspaper.
“There is no real political support coming to the coalition to help isolate the regime,” he said.
“The friends of the Syrian regime are providing it with the tools to kill and the friends of the Syrian people are giving the regime the time it needs.”
World powers have shown little appetite for armed intervention in Syria. The United States on Tuesday played down a media report that chemical weapons had been used in the country — a move US President Barack Obama has said would be a “red line” for Assad.
Meanwhile, the World Food Program said yesterday they were told to step up food aid to some 2.5 million Syrians going hungry, but did not say when it would be able to reach them all.
Meanwhile, three car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in northwest Syria yesterday, killing at least two dozen people in a coordinated assault on government positions, a monitoring group said.
Fighting has spread throughout much of Syria and upended civilian life in many areas as fighters have pushed to uproot President Bashar Assad’s better-equipped forces and tip the balance of the 22-month-old conflict.
Car bombs at government buildings and a checkpoint in Idlib province killed at least 24 people yesterday — most of them members of government forces — said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group.
“The car bombs exploded within minutes of each other. It seems they were coordinated,” the Observatory’s director, Rami Abdelrahman, said.
Reuters could not independently verify reports from inside Syria due to government restrictions on independent media.
Insurgents have often used bomb attacks to try to break a stalemate with government forces, who have far superior firepower including warplanes and ballistic missiles.
Elsewhere in the country, the Syrian military stepped up attacks in the cities of Idlib, Hama and Homs, and seized hundreds of heat-seeking missiles from militants in the southern province of Deraa, state media reported.
The armed forces renewed their assault on fighters in the northern city of Aleppo and its countryside, killing dozens in Sukari, Bab Al-Hadeed and Bustan Al-Qasr, SANA reported.
A day earlier, two explosions at Aleppo’s university killed at least 87 people, many of them students attending exams, in the deadliest attack on civilians to hit the commercial hub since rebels laid siege to it over the summer.
It is still unclear what caused the blasts, which each side blames on the other. Russia condemned the Aleppo explosions.
The UN count of the conflict’s dead has shot above 60,000.


In Mosul, young students help bring city back to life

Raghad Hammadi, who is a member of a group of students campaigning to help rebuild the Central Library of Mosul University, speaks with Reuters, in Mosul, Iraq on May 14, 2018. (REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily)
Updated 42 sec ago
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In Mosul, young students help bring city back to life

  • A group of students who launched a campaign to help rebuild the Central Library of Mosul University found buried under layers of ash some 30,000 books almost intact.
  • Among the books salvaged were some handwritten by Mosul scholars. They included editions written in Moslawi, the distinct dialect of the region once known as a center for scholarly Islam and the pride of many for its ancient mosques, churches and Old City

MOSUL, Iraq: A group of Iraqi university students have found a cause in the ruins of Mosul.

They are salvaging what is left of its rich heritage, clearing rubble and distributing aid in a city crying out for help after the war against Daesh.

The project began when Raghad Hammoudi and a group of students decided to launch a campaign to help rebuild the Central Library of Mosul University, burned and bombed in the war. Its vast contents had been all but lost.

But they found buried under layers of ash some 30,000 books almost intact. Over 40 hot days, with the war still raging on the other side, the students moved the books one by one using holes made by rockets to carry them to safety.

“An entire city with a glorious past and ancient history lost its heritage and culture: The tomb of the Prophet Jonah, the minaret of Al-Hadba which is older than Iraq itself. It is great that we were able to save a part of this heritage,” said Hammoudi, 25, a nursing student. 

Both the leaning minaret of Al-Hadba , part of the 12th century Grand Al-Nuri Mosque, where in 2014 Daesh’s Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared a caliphate, and the ancient tomb of what is believed to be the Prophet Jonah were destroyed in the military campaign to retake the city.

Hammoudi says among the books salvaged were some handwritten by Mosul scholars. They included editions written in Moslawi, the distinct dialect of the region once known as a center for scholarly Islam and the pride of many for its ancient mosques, churches and Old City architecture.

 

Revolution within

Elsewhere, volunteers cleared rubble and garbage, opened roads, drilled water wells and distributed aid.

“The situation in Mosul is so much better now and this is because of the revolution that happened within Mosul, within its young people,” she said.

After living under Daesh’s strict rule and then the war to retake the city, young women feel as though they have been liberated.

The team that set out to rescue the books was mixed, a rarity in Mosul’s society, where mingling between sexes outside the family or university was limited even before Daesh.

“An unbelievable barrier has been broken, it might be a trivial thing for the rest of the world but for Mosul it is huge,” she said.

Months after Iraq announced full control of the city, life is back in many parts. But much of the Old City, where the last and the bloodiest battles were waged, is still in complete ruin.

Diyaa Al-Taher, a resident who is helping rehabilitate homes, says most people, despite being impoverished, have returned to neighborhoods where the rubble has been cleared. However, there are entire areas that are completely deserted. Corpses fester under debris.

“Poverty can do more harm than Daesh. If the city remains like this and the poor can’t find anything to eat, they will do anything,” said Taher, 30.

Taher says his target is to rehabilitate 1,000 homes and has so far finished rehabilitating 75, relying solely on donations from locals.

Taher is regularly stopped by locals asking for help. He points to a collapsed home where an entire family was killed.

“Their belongings were taken to be sold for charity,” he said, skipping over the stream of sewage that split the road.

 

Miracle escape

Marwa Al-Juburi,25, a divorcee, was one of the first to volunteer as soon as she and her family escaped the fighting.

“It was a miracle that we even made it. From then on I refused to accept to stay at home anymore. I refused to be silenced and I haven’t since,” she said.

She says she had to overcome stigma both as a woman and a divorcee to carry out the work.

She runs activities for children and helps coordinate access to medical care and equipment for families. Her team organized the opening of a park previously used as a military training ground for the fighters who ruled the city for three years.

Al Juburi, who is still haunted by images of the night of their escape, says even if Mosul is rebuilt, people need help to get over the mental toll.

“In the end, the city will be rebuilt, even if it takes 1,000 years. But if the mind is destroyed, then the city will be lost with no hope of resurrection.”