Theft and shelling have damaged a 2,000 year-old synagogue in Damascus, one of the oldest in the world, Syrian government and opposition activist sources said on Monday.
Syria’s historic monuments have increasingly become a casualty of the civil war has killed more than 70,000 people. Parts of Aleppo’s medieval stone-vaulted souk have been reduced to rubble, and many ancient markets, mosques and churches across the country are threatened with destruction.
The damage has so far been light at the Jobar Synagogue, built in honour of the biblical prophet Elijah, according to Mamoun Abdulkarim, the head of Syria’s antiquities department.
Officials can’t confirm what has been taken from the Jobar Synagogue at this time, but they did confirm that rebel fighters used the structure as a base of operations for an undisclosed period of time four months ago. The Syrian government has also shelled the area extensively since war broke out in the country two years ago, but only 6 mortar rounds are reported to have struck the synagogue.
14:40 // 8 months ago
The Iranian embassy in Lebanon said the dead man, Hessam Khoshnevis, was in charge of Tehran’s reconstruction assistance in Lebanon. It said he was killed by “armed terrorist groups”, a label used by the Syrian government to describe Assad’s foes, on the road to Lebanon as he returned from Damascus.
A Syrian opposition commander said the attack was carried out by rebel fighters near the Syrian town of Zabadani close to the Lebanese border.
Iran has strongly backed Assad during the uprising in which the United Nations says nearly 70,000 people have been killed. In September Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander-in-chief said the force was providing non-military support in Syria and may get involved militarily if there is foreign intervention.
Iran’s state-run media claims Khoshnevis was only passing through Syria, not stationed there as some believe, on his way to a civil engineering position in Lebanon where he was allegedly aiding in national reconstruction efforts. Iran is currently blaming the “Zionist enemy” for the death of Khoshnevis’ on Tuesday; however, there has yet to be an individual or group of Syrian rebels to claim credit for the attack. Regardless, the death is almost sure to complicate regional politics, with Iran having previously offered military support to President Bashar al-Assad should any foreign nation attempt to intervene in the country’s approximately two-year-old civil war.
15:11 // 9 months ago