In Syria, Milky Way glimmers over sea of rubble

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This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27, 2020 shows a man using an cell phone while walking past buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, as the Milky Way galaxy is seen in the night sky above. (AFP/Omar Hajj Kadour)
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This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27, 2020 shows a view of buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, as the Milky Way galaxy is seen in the night sky above. (AFP/Omar Haj Kadour)
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This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27, 2020 shows a view of buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, as the Milky Way galaxy is seen in the night sky above. (AFP/Omar Haj Kadour)
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This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27, 2020 shows a man smoking past buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, as the Milky Way galaxy is seen in the night sky above. (AFP/Omar Hajj Kadour)
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This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27, 2020 shows a view of buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, as the Milky Way galaxy is seen in the night sky above. (AFP/Omar Haj Kadour)
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This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27, 2020 shows a man using an cell phone while standing past buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, as the Milky Way galaxy is seen in the night sky above. (AFP/Omar Haj Kadour)
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Updated 27 June 2020

In Syria, Milky Way glimmers over sea of rubble

  • Over the bombed-out town of Ariha in Idlib province, the stars looked like specks of dust shining over the town’s pulverised buildings

ARIHA, Syria: Years of violence in Syria’s last major opposition bastion has created a landscape of ruin, eerily lit in the early hours of Saturday by the Milky Way in the night sky.
Over the bombed-out town of Ariha in Idlib province, the stars looked like specks of dust shining over the town’s pulverised buildings.
Ten long-exposure pictures taken by an AFP photographer on an unusually clear night with no moon show the stark contrast between the grim devastation on the ground and the Milky Way.
A Russian-backed government offensive between December and March ravaged Ariha and other parts of northwest Syria, displacing nearly a million people.
A truce reached on March 6 had largely reduced the fighting but Russia resumed air strikes this month for the first time in an alarming uptick.
Some 780,000 of the nearly 1 million displaced are estimated to remain in displacement, according to the United Nations.
Perched on a mountainous region in Idlib, Ariha is held by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance (HTS), led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, and its rebel allies.
It was home to almost 70,000 people before the regime’s latest offensive but it is now nearly deserted.
Its streets are dotted with the skeletons of buildings damaged by previous rounds of bombardment.
Barely any lights emanate from the ground, except the dim glow of mobile phones carried by passersby.
Nearly half of Idlib’s population of three million has been displaced from other parts of Syria that have come under regime control.
The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population since it started in 2011.
With the help of his Russian and Iran allies, President Bashar Assad has clawed back more than 70 percent of the country.


Indian man wears gold face mask to ward off coronavirus

Updated 04 July 2020

Indian man wears gold face mask to ward off coronavirus

  • The precious metal covering weighs 60 grams (two ounces) and took craftsmen eight days to make

PUNE: An Indian man said he paid about $4,000 for a bespoke gold face mask to protect him from the coronavirus raging in the country.
The precious metal covering weighs 60 grams (two ounces) and took craftsmen eight days to make, said businessman Shankar Kurhade, from the western city of Pune.
“It is a thin mask and has tiny pores that is helping me to breathe,” Shankar told AFP.
“I am not sure if it will be effective to protect me from a coronavirus infection but I am taking other precautions,” he added.
When going out, the 49-year-old said he likes to adorn himself with gold jewelry weighing a kilogramme, including a bracelet, necklace and rings on each finger of his right hand.
Kurhade — whose company makes industrial sheds — said he got the idea for the gold face mask after seeing a media report about a man wearing one made from silver.
“People are asking me for selfies,” he said.
“They are awestruck when they see me wearing the gold mask in markets.”
India has made face masks mandatory in public places in a bid to control the spread of the virus in the country, which has around 650,000 confirmed cases and more than 18,600 fatalities.