Tag Archives: Syria

Syria’s war: Who is fighting and why (Qui se bat contre qui en Syrie ?)


After four-plus years of fighting, Syria’s war has killed at least hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. And, though it started as a civil war, it’s become much more than that. It’s a proxy war that has divided much of the Middle East, and has drawn in both Russia and the United States. To understand how Syria got to this place, it helps to start at the beginning and watch it unfold:

  • En français (traduit en 2015:)

  • In English updated this year:

Syrie Carte d’aujourd’hui / Who controls what in Syria :Today’s Map of zones:

syria map april 2017
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/61/Syria_and_Iraq_2014-onward_War_map.png

 

Syrie : ce que l’on sait par les médias de l’attaque chimique de Khan Cheikhoun


  • Attention, certaines images de ces vidéos ci-dessous peuvent choquer.

peace on earth

Une frappe aérienne qui a émis du « gaz toxique », a touché Khan Cheikhoun, une ville du nord-ouest de la Syrie tenue par les rebelles, mardi 4 avril, a fait savoir au à la presse les casques blancs. Plus de soixante-dix personnes voire plus (100 selon UOSSM), dont des enfants, ont été tuées.

Des vidéos publiées sur les réseaux sociaux montrent notamment des enfants morts ou inconscients, dont les pupilles ne réagissent pas à la lumière. Un médecin anglophone, sur place, affirme qu’il s’agit de gaz sarin. 

L'armée syrienne a démenti toute implication dans cette attaque chimique. Or, une source militaire syrienne a déclaré à Reuters que l’armée syrienne n’avait jamais utilisé d’arme chimique au passé et qu’elle ne le ferait pas à l’avenir.

Par ailleurs, des sources locales disent que les raids se sont effectués contre un stock d’armements appartenant aux opposants, où se trouvaient, entre autres, des munitions à base de gaz chloré, d’où la propagation des gaz toxiques dans l’air.

Les armes chimiques, c’est exactement les terroristes qui les ont utilisées. En décembre 2016, le gouvernement syrien a élaboré des documents prouvant que les terroristes ont utilisé des armes chimiques au gaz moutarde.

Samer Abbas, le responsable syrien pour l’application de la Convention sur l’interdiction des armes chimiques (CIAC), a envoyé à l’Organisation pour l’interdiction des armes chimiques (OIAC) des preuves montrant clairement que les terroristes ont recouru à des armes au gaz moutarde contre les civils.

“Le commandement de l’armée dément catégoriquement avoir utilisé toute substance chimique ou toxique à Khan Cheikhoun aujourd’hui (mardi)”, a indiqué l’armée dans un communiqué publié par l’agence officielle Sana. Le document ajoute que l’armée syrienne “n’en a jamais utilisé, à aucun moment, à aucun endroit et ne le fera pas dans l’avenir”.

Selon l’Union des organisations de secours et soins médicaux (UOSSM), il y aurait au moins 100 personnes ont été tuées. La situation sur place est de toute façon horrible : pupilles dilatées, convulsions, suffocations, évanouissements. Certaines victimes présentaient de l’écume à la bouche. D’après des sources médicales, ces symptômes correspondent à une attaque à l’aide d’agents chimiques.

L’attaque a visé Khan Cheikhoune, une ville dans le sud de la province d’Idlib, dans le nord-ouest de la Syrie, tenue par les rebelles. Des avions, appartenant vraisemblablement à l’armée syrienne, selon France Inter, auraient mené plusieurs raids mardi matin. Des vidéos de militants anti-régime ont montré des corps sans vie sur la chaussée, d’autres pris de spasmes et de crises de suffocation. Les ONG sur place ne sont pas encore en mesure de déterminer la nature du gaz toxique utilisé.

Le gouvernement syrien a toujours démenti utiliser des armes chimiques. Bachar al-Assad n’a pas encore réagi, mais une source de sécurité à Damas a dénoncé une “calomnie”. Quant à l’armée russe, principale soutien du régime, elle affirme n’avoir mené aucun raid aérien dans la zone touchée.

La France et la Grande-Bretagne ont très rapidement demandé la convocation d’une réunion d’urgence du Conseil de sécurité. Réunion qui se tiendra mercredi à 16h00 (heure de Paris).

Lors d’une conférence de presse conjointe avec la responsable de la diplomatie européenne, Federica Mogherini, l’envoyé spécial onusien pour la Syrie s’est exprimé sur l’attaque chimique présumée contre la région de Khan Cheikhoun en Syrie.

« D’après ce que nous avons compris, il s’agissait d’une attaque chimique et aérienne », a ajouté Staffan de Mistura, cité par l’AFP, à propos de cette attaque qu’il a qualifié de « horrible ».

  • Sources: FranceInter.fr, lemonde.fr, rtl.be, Belga, PressTv Iran, Sana

The Many Faces of Hellenic Identity: Finding the roots … of a Greek Village in Syria


I hope that a radiant smile will  soon be visible on these tired war faces in Syria and especially those of the young syrian children born into war conditions.

For Roula Tsokalidou, of the University of Thessaly, the Greek language enjoys special prestige in the Eastern Mediterranean area, both as a medium of commercial transactions and as an instrument of upward social mobility. It is a language which it is used to establish closer relations, for both professional and educational purposes, with a European country, which, nevertheless, is geographically and culturally close to the Middle East.

Touched by the Mediterranean Sea and all the delights that an Arabic country can offer, Al Hamidiyah is a small village that is not much different to any other found in Syria. Except its population speaks Greek. (Video in English:)

Before the war there were over 1 million Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox worshipers – a phenomenal statistic in a strong Muslim country. This is a legacy of the Byzantine Greek presence in Syria. The Greek Orthodox Church is known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (formerly a Syrian city that is now in Turkey). It is the successor to the church founded by Apostles Peter and Paul. The church is now based in Damascus.

Al Hamidiyah is a town on the coastal Syrian line about 3km from the Lebanese border. The town was founded in a very short time on direct orders from the Turkish Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid II circa 1897, to serve as refuge for the Muslim Cretans fleeing the ethnic cleansing in Crete in the aftermath of the departure of Turkish troops from the island.

The community, though living away from Crete (and Greece) for over a century, still speaks a Cretan dialect and has held on to Greek customs. They keep up with Greek politics, current events, and entertainment by catching the Cyprus TV signal on their satellites.

Crete fell to the Turks in the sixteenth century, after long and stubborn resistance from the Venetians who had ruled the island until then. In the following centuries, many Cretans changed their religion, converting to the doctrines of Islam and becoming Alevites, the dominant religious sect among the Turks. In those days, it was not uncommon for people to change religions back and forth, following the tides of constant rebellion against the Ottoman Empire.

It was 1866 when the final revolution in Crete broke out, eventually culminating in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

Cretan rebels clashed with the occupying Ottoman army, seeking independence and union with Greece. The island was torn by strife and fratricide. As before, religion divided many Cretan families. The Ottomans employed bands of armed Muslim fanatics, some of whom were native Cretans, who rampaged through Christian villages.

To some, it seemed that allegiance to religion surpassed allegiance to one’s nation. And yet, there were many among the Cretan Muslims who fought beside their Christian brothers against the common foreign enemy.

cretan muslim

Despite this, many Christians came to regard Muslims as their arch enemies, regardless of common bloodlines. After the final withdrawal of the Ottoman army from Crete, most Cretan Muslims fled the island, fearful of revenge.

The last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hammid, provided them with a safe haven on the Syrian coast, in a village named after him-Hamidiyah. Almost 100 years have passed since then.The Hamediyahians are Syrian citizens, fully integrated into their host society.

Many of them fought in the Six Day War, as well as in Lebanon, and were duly decorated for their bravery. They do, however, keep their distinct identity as Cretans. They speak Greek to each other in their everyday conversations. Their instincts and aspirations are also different from their surrounding fellow-Syrians.

They are extremely hard-working and well-off compared to them. They have a strong sense of community; very rarely does a Cretan marry a non-Cretan. They have kept the traditions of their motherland very much alive, insisting on following customs long extinct on Crete itself.

At the core of this phenomenon of cultural preservation seems to lie the bond of family.Hamidiyah is certainly not the most beautiful place in the world. The road leading there from Tartus follows the coastline, passing by the ruins of Amrit, the ancient Phoenician colony, and then rushes through cornfields and vegetable fields towards the Lebanese border. This is the southernmost corner of Syria and it is not pretty; the beaches here often serve as dumping grounds for non-recyclable plastic.

The village itself has a cold industrial air about it, aesthetics guiltlessly sacrificed to the altar of functionality. When you enter Hamidiyah, this is what you see: one-story, stone-built houses, each with a small patio in front; dirt roads separating a mosque, a school, and a caf?; posters of President Assad and his son, stuck like advertisements on every wall and every shop window; people sitting outside their homes drinking tea; and barefoot children playing on the beach.

cretan muslims turkey
A Cretan Muslim family sent to Turkey after the population exchange in 1923.

Despite all this,Hamidiyah is a true Cretan village. Most of the wounds caused by the violence of the late-nineteenth century have slowly healed. Many families in Hamidiyah still have Christian relatives in Crete with whom they maintain contact. Television plays an important role for ethnic minority communities like Hamidiyah. The proximity of Cyprus to the Syrian coast provides a rich source of cultural contact via Greek TV stations, whose programming is pivotal in helping Hamidiyahians maintain their language.

In Hamidiyah, mothers teach their infants Greek from the cradle. We speak it amongst ourselves. That’s how we managed to preserve it so far, for 100 years!

A tour to Hamidiyah may not be included in your visit to Syria, a country replete with ancient Greek monuments. However, a Greek visitor to Hamidiyah will be happily surprised to hear the Cretan dialect spoken by the residents of this Syrian village.

The Hamidiyahians speak the Cretan dialect in its unadulterated form, as it was spoken on Crete during the last century. They are very hospitable and friendly while the elders do not hesitate to relate the circumstances that forced them out of Crete at the end of the 19th century. Although natives of Crete, they had been forced to adopt the Muslim religion. However, this did not prevent them from joining the cause of their Christian compatriots against Turkish occupation of the island.

cretan muslims turcs

The Hamidiyahians love Crete. You can see it in the spark of their eyes when they speak of Crete. It comes as no surprise then that they have remained faithful to the Cretan customs and language. Occasionally, Hamidians employed on fishing boats come to Crete, to return to Hamidiyah, where they rekindle the love for the land of their forefathers.

Here, two travel bloggers recounts their travel experiences in Al-Hamidiyah. They write:

 When you hear Cretan songs being sung from the heart, from a man who has never been to the island, you realise how strong the Cretan presence is felt in Al Hamidiyah. These songs spoke of Crete in a different age, they were beautiful to listen to.

I was told that the dialect they speak was learnt in the home as it is not taught at school. The Hamidiyans love Crete and this family is a clear example of that. You can see it in the spark of their eyes when they speak of Crete. It came as no surprise that they, like the rest of the village, appreciate the Cretan customs and language.

  • Sources:

http://noctoc-noctoc.blogspot.com.cy/2007/05/cretans-of-al-hamidiyah.html

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Growing up with War: Children of Syria. The tragedy of kids who have never known peace.


(RT DOCUMENTARY )

In almost six years of war in Syria, millions of civilians have been killed or wounded. Many have lost their homes and loved ones but the children are the most vulnerable victims of all, it’s estimated that over 8 million have been affected. RT Doc’s Maria Finoshina has reported on the developing conflict in Syria since it began. Now she returns to the devastated cities of Aleppo and Homs to meet just a few of the kids who’ve grown up with the horror of war.

Many of the children have never known a time of peace. Most are deprived of education and even a place of safety. Traumatized by what they’ve lived through, they receive no counselling and spend their childhoods simply trying to survive: dodging bombs and snipers’ bullets, constantly on the move to escape hostilities, while earning to support their families.

The harrowing stories include Ahmad, who survived being shot in the head by a sniper but was left partially paralyzed. For him, the simplest of routine tasks are now a struggle but he still goes to school every day. Leith watched as five of his family members, including his parents, were killed. Moayed’s house was razed to the ground and now, every member of his big family has become a refugee in their own country. They squat in a partially destroyed building, with no water or electricity.

Millions more of Syria’s children have similar stories to tell: a whole generation is growing up with war and as the bloodshed continues, their futures remain precarious and uncertain.

syrian man waters herbs on his roof
“Syrian man waters herbs on the roof of his building in Arbin” 2017 (Amer Almohibany/AFP)