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Homs: A Revolutionary Syrian City in Ruins

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Syria, History, Photography, Protest, Refugees, War & Conflict

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12 [1]

Among the many Syrian cities and towns making news headlines today is Homs, a city which dates back to 2300BC. The colossal damage months of shelling has done can be seen in the destruction of historic buildings and architecture, hundreds of thousands of refugees and thousands of martyrs.

Homs in history

The 4,300 years old (the earliest settlement 2300 BC) Homs [2], historically known as Emesa [2] (an assemblage of the locally revered sun god), is the third largest city in Syria and is a sister of Belo Horizonte [3] city in Brazil. Homs has a list of historic landmarks, such as the mosque Khalid ibn al-Walid [4], roofed souks, and contains world heritage sites such as the Krak des Chevaliers [5] and the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din [6], one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world.

Few people might know that the Holy Belt of Saint Mary is within the treasures of Um al-Zennar Church [7] while the 5th-century Church of Saint Elian [8], contains his own tomb.


The Damage of (Um Al-Zennar) Saint Mary Church of the Holy Belt in Homs, Syria. Source: Archaeo life Blog. [9]

Historically, Homs was a city of funny and weird mysteries. In December 1260, Hulagu was defeated at the First Battle of Homs [10]. The Mongols did not enter the city of Homs, unlike other Syrian cities and other cities in the East, while there is a myth saying that scorpions can't live in Homs due to high rate of mercury in its soil. Orontes River [11] which passes the city is the only river that runs from the south northwards while its streets are almost free of beggars, actually due to the efforts of the good people and effective social services run by the community.

A rare video of the Syrian city of Homs shared by IBN HOMS [12] on Youtube, marks the images between 1880 and 1950.

Homs under attack

Although the city had given Syria three of its presidents [13], from Atassi [14] family, and is the hometown of Assad´s family wife (Alakhras), “Homsi” protesters were among the first Syrians to take to streets in thousands [15] to protest against the Syrian regime. Ever since, the city have been suffering from heavy shelling for months despite a call to Save Syria's threatened heritage sites [16], including the historic district of Bab Al Dreib [17]. YouTube user Saif Hurria [18] reports about [English] the collapsed buildings and the massive destruction in Jourat alshiah neighborhood.

On tumblr, salt-and-filfil [19] posted a photograph which compares Jourat alshiah neighborhood between 1930-2012.


Homs city before Assad, 1930- Homs city after Assad, 2012. Source: salt-and-filfil on Tumblr.

Also, SyriaAustraliaTv [21] reported (subtitled in English) the destruction of the buildings in AlQusour neighborhood on 11 October 2012.

And another video by the same user SyriaAustraliaTv [21] demonstrates the colossal destruction caused by one rocket on October 7, 2012.

Martyrs and refugees

According to Shaam News Network [22] S.N.N, Homs had more than 7,208 martyrs and most of its inhabitants fled their homes as part of 2 million refugees. Thousands of Syrian refugee children who are at serious risk from freezing temperatures, as winter sets in the Middle East, are being supported by Save the Children [23] organization which is:

Providing the basics they need, like food and blankets and offering programs to help them cope with tragedy. But the numbers of children escaping the violence are rising every day and we’re facing a refugee crisis which is set to get worse. Please donate today [24]. Together, we can help many more Syrian refugee children deal with what they've been through, rebuild their lives and recover from the scars of a brutal war.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12 [1]