Syria army destroys houses in “collective punishment“
AMMAN: Syrian army bulldozers razed houses in western Damascus on Monday, pursuing what activists called the first campaign of collective punishment targeting people’s property in areas of the capital hostile to President Bashar Assad.
Bulldozers backed by combat troops demolished buildings in the poor Tawahin district, near the Damascus-Beirut highway, activists and residents said.
“They started three hours ago. The bulldozers are bringing down shops and houses. The inhabitants are in the streets,” said a woman who lives in a high-rise building overlooking the area.
“This is an unprovoked act of collective punishment. The rebels had left, there are no longer even demonstrations in the area,” said Mouaz Al-Shami, a campaigner collecting video documentation of the demolitions.
“The regime can’t stop itself from repeating the brutality of the 1980s,” he said, alluding to mass killings and wholesale destruction in the city of Hama in 1982 under Assad’s father, the late Hafez Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years.
“The regime has not changed. It will not,” Shami said.
Activists also reported the razing or burning of at least 200 houses and shops in the old part of the southern city of Daraa in the past few days. Army shelling had largely emptied the area, prompting 40,000 people to flee to Jordan.
Opposition campaigner Rami Al-Sayyed said: “This the first time we see a systematic campaign to raze houses and shops using direct means like bulldozers that seems to be concentrating on Damascus and its environs.”
Bulldozers entered the Khashabeh area of the northern Damascus suburb of Harasta on Monday and began razing houses in the neighborhood. The latest wave of demolitions follows the destruction of dozens of buildings in an area next to Tawahin in Damascus on Sunday and in the Sunni district of Qaboun last month.
“I visited Qaboun yesterday. It is no longer a dense neighborhood. I could see from one end of the neighborhood to the other because so many buildings have been razed,” said another Damascus activist who gave her name only as Yasmine.
“This method is now being used to try and humiliate Damascenes.”
Posted by: Steve White