Aleppo’s Great Umayyad Mosque is Burning

What happened to Aleppo’s ancient Souk now happened to the city’s oldest and largest Mosque as well. The regime has been occupying the area and went about its usual business of desecrating mosques and harassing scholars; we know it happened here as well from the case of Shaykh Yusuf Hindawi.

There have been clashes in the area for some time, but on October 10 the FSA launched an offensive to liberate it from the regime by attacking its army positions inside and around the mosque. On that same day, Assadist media reported and showed footage (from 8.00 onward) of its army still being in control. Damage inside and outside the mosque was also shown, including desecration of the Qur’an, claimed to have been caused by RPG’s. The first lie is immediately apparent, pages from the Qur’an being ripped into pieces is not something caused by fire fights. Moreover, it’s a known Shabbiha hobby. Clashes apparently continued until yesterday when the FSA captured the area and Assad’s army withdrew, leaving behind a fire blazing through the mosque. Footage uploaded by activists tells the story:

October 10, clashes in the courtyard of the mosque:

After this the regime’s army apparently regained control. These clashes clearly cause a lot of damage, and though there is no actual evidence of the use of heavier weapons in the attack, we’ve unfortunately passed the phase where we can just assume that they wouldn’t be used. But is this what primarily caused the damage as the regime’s propaganda machine would like us to believe? The first problem is that they can’t seem to get their story straight, the official channel reports on the damage and clashes as previously mentioned while Dunya TV claims that the presence of opposition fighters inside the mosque is yet another fabrication by Arab media. That’s clearly nonsense, but there is a third alternative scenario: reinforcements attacked the FSA as it entered the mosque.

The following footage shows tanks in front of the mosque:

It is from October 13, but even on October 10 it would have only been natural for reinforcements to be on their way and attack the FSA from different directions. One of Assad’s military sources which claimed that “rebels broke through the wall of the mosque using RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and tried to push inside” also claimed that reinforcements couldn’t make it as they were under attack as well. If this is not true, and it has certainly been policy for the regime to bombard and shell everyone and everything, the alternative scenario is the most likely one. Even if reinforcements didn’t make it on October 10, they got there by October 13, bringing along their tanks, mortars, artillery and other heavy weapons.

On October 13, the FSA announces that they would liberate the mosque and show how they would enter it:

The footage shows much damage around them, caused by shelling and bombardments.

The following footage shows how they entered the mosque and the clashes that followed:

The destruction is immense and caused by the regime’s the use of heavy weapons against the FSA as they came in. Once they got there, they also found the ripped pages from the Qur’an:

The Tawhid Brigade announces that the mosque has been liberated:

The commander mentions that the regime set fire to the mosque as its forces withdrew, while smoke is coming from the back.

Footage from the fire:

It’s hard to imagine that the mosque was not purposefully set on fire by Assad’s men, as most likely has been the case with the Souk as well. If not directly, then by shelling and the use of heavy arms. It’s hard to imagine fires like these being the result of battles with light arms. Like with the Souk, the FSA and activists put the fire out.

The next day (today) an activist shows what happened in the mosque:

He explains how Assad’s men destroyed the mosque in order to close the way in so that the FSA couldn’t get through. This can be clearly seen as the destruction is immense. It also confirms what caused the destruction that could be seen as the FSA entered. Then he shows another desecrated Qur’an, alcohol bottles in front of the shrine of Prophet Zachary (peace be upon him), and writing on the water cooler with a message for the Syrian people: “We don’t ask mercy from anyone and there will be a day when won’t show mercy to anyone”, signed “Assad’s Shabbiha”. The apparent author didn’t make it. Then the damage from the fire is shown.

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