I’ve talked before about my visit to Syria back in the ’90s and how grieved I am to see what’s happening there now. I keep wondering what’s happened to the people I met. Are they caught in the crossfire? Have they taken up arms with the opposition? Judging from the whispered conversations we had in the safety of back rooms, I know none of them joined the government forces.
Now another of Syria’s historic sites, and one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been, is under attack. Crac des Chevaliers is the world’s largest and best-preserved Crusader castle. In this video you can see the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the background as the city below it gets shelled. It’s unclear if the castle itself has been hit.
The video, posted on YouTube by member Souria2011archives, claims to represent the Free Syria Army. They write that it shows government artillery striking the town. “This is like bombing the Pyramids,” the caption reads.
Ironically, just before Syria descended into revolution, there was a big advertising campaign by the Syrian Tourism Board here in Spain. My wife and I started planning a trip and then the country fell apart. The caption continues, “After we liberate Syria from the 42 year Assad Family Reign of Terror and hang the entire Assad family live on Syria State TV, we will hope that people from all over the world will come to visit a Free and Democratic Syria and we guarantee that our incredible priceless ancient castles and souks and Roman Towns and Roman Amphitheaters and Biblical era cities will take your breath away by their size, majesty, beauty and perfect condition, (as long as we can topple the Dictator before he destroys them all).”
This is not an endorsement of Souria2011archives or the Free Syria Army. If these guys get into power they might turn out to be just as bad as the dictator they want to hang on a live TV show. The Libyan militias that took over from Gaddafi certainly aren’t saints. Despite all that, I do believe Assad has to go, and if some semblance of normalcy returns to Syria I’ll certainly return and report about it. Hopefully Syria’s amazing heritage will have survived enough to take my breath away a second time.