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.


US sprinter beats Usain Bolt’s 200m world record - but only runs 185m

Updated 10 July 2020

US sprinter beats Usain Bolt’s 200m world record - but only runs 185m

  • Lyles was racing alone against competitors simultaneously sprinting on tracks in Europe.

LONDON: For a few fleeting minutes, US sprinter Noah Lyles thought he had broken the long-standing 200 meter world record at the Inspiration Games on Thursday.

Lyles, 22, is the 200m world champion and his time of 18.90 seconds would have smashed the 19.19 mark set by Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt in 2009.

But the headline time will not go into the history books after it was revealed he only ran 185 meters due to a blunder by the event organizers putting the starting line in the wrong place.

Lyles was racing alone against competitors simultaneously sprinting on tracks in Europe.

His staggering time was immediately challenged by commentators watching the event.

“You can’t be playing with my emotions like this....Got me in the wrong lane smh,” he tweeted. He later tweeted again to correct himself, saying he had in fact started on the wrong line. 

The farcical ending to one of the headline races in the event will be an embarrassment for the organizers who were banking on showing the world that technology can make a major international athletics event possible despite the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.