Conflict Zones

Report: Syrian Government Has Demolished Entire Neighborhoods

The complete demolition of the Masha' al-Arb'een neighborhood in the Syrian city of Hama. The group Human Rights Watch says the Syrian government army destroyed at least seven neighborhoods since the middle of 2012 because they were opposition strongholds. i i

hide captionThe complete demolition of the Masha' al-Arb'een neighborhood in the Syrian city of Hama. The group Human Rights Watch says the Syrian government army destroyed at least seven neighborhoods since the middle of 2012 because they were opposition strongholds.

DigitalGlobe
The complete demolition of the Masha' al-Arb'een neighborhood in the Syrian city of Hama. The group Human Rights Watch says the Syrian government army destroyed at least seven neighborhoods since the middle of 2012 because they were opposition strongholds.

The complete demolition of the Masha' al-Arb'een neighborhood in the Syrian city of Hama. The group Human Rights Watch says the Syrian government army destroyed at least seven neighborhoods since the middle of 2012 because they were opposition strongholds.

DigitalGlobe

As the Syrian government and opposition forces try to make peace in Geneva, the group Human Rights Watch has issued a new report that accuses the regime of demolishing entire neighborhoods that were considered opposition strongholds.

The report, "Razed to the Ground," was issued Thursday and said it found seven cases of "large scale demolitions" in neighborhoods in Damascus and Hama. The first one took place in July 2012 and the most recent was last November.

The demolition of the Masha' al-Arb'een neighborhood in Hama. (Drag the slider or tap on the image to see the before and after.)

Thousands of families lost their homes, said Human Rights Watch, which released satellite imagery that shows before-and-after photos of the devastated areas. Two are included here, at the top and bottom of the page.

The human rights group also said it interviewed 16 witnesses to the demolitions.

"Those responsible for the wanton destruction of civilian property or for imposing collective punishment have committed war crimes and should be investigated and held to account."

Human Rights Watch went on to say that the Syrian government has given conflicting reasons for the demolitions. In some instances it has described it as necessary to tear down illegal construction and conform with urban planning efforts.

But in October 2012, Hussein Maklouf, a governor in the Damascus area, said in an interview that the demolitions were essential to drive out the opposition.

Dozens of high-rise residential and commercial buildings were destroyed along the main road between Mezzeh Air Base and Daraya, a Damascus suburb. (Drag the slider or tap on the image to see the before and after.)

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: