Tank museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks opens in Jordan

A family looks at a display of tanks at the Royal Tank Museum in Amman, Jordan. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Tank museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks opens in Jordan

AMMAN: A museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks from a century of wars in the Middle East and from more distant conflicts has opened in Jordan.
Curators at the Royal Tank Museum collected armored vehicles over the past decade, including some that served in both sides of the Iran-Iraq war and in the conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the Golan Heights, Jordan and Jerusalem.
Other contributions came from faraway places, such as Azerbaijan, Morocco, Taiwan and Brunei. Most of the museum’s tanks were made in America, reflecting Jordan’s long-running alliance with the US. Some pieces reached Jordan in a particularly roundabout way, including a World War II-era German tank used by the Nazis in North Africa. A swastika-in-palm-tree stencil marks it as one of the German Africa Corps’ fleet of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The Syrians had bought the tank in the 1950s from Czechoslovakia and deployed it against Israel, then gave it to Jordan in 2009.
“The museum is telling the story of the world through the history of tanks,” said the museum’s General Manager Maher Tarawneh.
The museum, the second in the region after Israel’s Yad La-Shiryon, opened last week.
On a recent morning, hundreds of Jordanians lined up outside to be led through the museum by guides, many of them army veterans.
The 20,000-square-meter space also includes exhibits of historic battles in Syria, Jerusalem and Jordan, with loudspeakers blaring gunfire, roars of diesel engines, and fiery patriotic speeches. Life-size replicas of soldiers staff turrets as tank treads menace intricately crafted shrubs.
Dangling from a massive sky-light is a Cobra attack helicopter, of the type flown by Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The king decreed the creation of the museum in 2007, launching the acquisition process led by chief curator Hamdan Smairan. The retired major general who commanded the Jordan military’s armored corps began by reaching out to his contacts.
The world’s tank museums supported the venture. The Tank Museum in Dorset, England and the Imperial War Museum in London provided curatorial counsel. Museums in the Czech Republic and France exchanged tanks for Jordanian tanks.
An old friend of Smairan’s lobbied South Africa successfully for the museum’s World War II-era British Crusader tank.
Russia and Kazakhstan gave tanks to Jordan’s king who then added them to the collection, the curator said.
Most of the museum’s tanks were made in America, reflecting Jordan’s long-running alliance with the US. Along with World War II-era Sherman and Tiger tanks, there are also Soviet and Chinese models.
The museum also illustrates Jordan’s history.
An armored vehicle used in the revolt rotates on a dais in the museum. It is followed by tank exhibits telling the story of Jordan in subsequent battles, including the Mideast wars of 1967 and 1973.
The museum will eventually open an exhibition field and offer rides on tanks outside on site.


Masked attackers kill five Syria rescuers: White Helmets

Updated 26 May 2018
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Masked attackers kill five Syria rescuers: White Helmets

  • The White Helmets said armed men stormed the Al-Hader center in a pre-dawn attack and fired on the first responders inside.
  • Four volunteers were killed on the spot and a fifth died later in hospital.

BEIRUT: Five Syrian rescue workers were killed in an attack by masked assailants Saturday on one of their centers in the northern province of Aleppo, the White Helmets said.
The White Helmets said armed men stormed the Al-Hader center in a pre-dawn attack and fired on the first responders inside.
Four volunteers were killed on the spot and a fifth died later in hospital, it wrote on Twitter.
Founded in 2013, the White Helmets are a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory.
The Al-Hader center lies in a part of Aleppo province controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), an extremist organization whose main component was once Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
“At around 2:00 am, an armed group stormed the Al-Hader center, blindfolded the staff members who were on the night shift, and killed five of them,” said Ahmad Al-Hamish, who heads the center.
“Two others were wounded and another two were able to flee. The attackers were masked and escaped after stealing some equipment and generators,” he said.
It was unclear whether the attack was a robbery-gone-wrong or if the center and its crew had been specifically targeted.
More than 200 White Helmets rescuers have been killed in Syria’s seven-year war, usually in bombing raids or shelling on their centers.
While attacks like the one on Saturday are rare, they have happened before.
In August, seven White Helmets members were killed in a similar attack in the town of Sarmin, in neighboring Idlib province.
Most of Idlib is held by HTS, as well as a part of Aleppo and the adjacent province of Hama.
Tensions are on the rise there, with a wave of intra-opposition assassinations and clashes leaving at least 20 rebels dead in 48 hours, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“You cannot separate the Al-Hader incident from the assassinations and other killings that have been happening more and more in recent weeks in areas under HTS control,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The population of Idlib province has swelled to more than two million people as a result of massive transfers of rebels and civilians from onetime opposition zones elsewhere in the country.
The killings come as the White Helmets are facing a “freeze” on funding from the United States, which is still reviewing over $200 million earmarked for stabilization in Syria.