Ra­madan in ru­ins for dis­placed Idlib fam­ily

Syr­ian town looks like the scene of a mon­ster earth­quake

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

ARIHA: As dusk set­tles on the for­est of gut­ted build­ings around them, Tareq Abu Ziad and his fam­ily break the Ra­madan fast on the re­mains of their home. The north­ern Syr­ian town of Ariha looks like the scene of a mon­ster earth­quake-a silent, grey sea of loose cin­der blocks and man­gled iron rods.

Abu Ziad had to make a lit­tle clear­ing in the rub­ble on his roof to lay three foam mat­tresses for his wife and chil­dren to sit on as they share their meal. “Now my fam­ily and I are here on top of the de­struc­tion,” the 29-yearold fa­ther of three says. “We are re­liv­ing a very dif­fi­cult and painful mem­ory. I pray that God doesn’t let any­one else ex­pe­ri­ence this.” He and his fam­ily fled Ariha late last year when Syr­ian gov­ern­ment troops backed by Rus­sian air strikes launched an of­fen­sive against the town, con­trolled at the time by ji­hadist and rebel groups.

Within a few weeks, around a mil­lion civil­ians fled the as­sault on the wider Idlib re­gion, the last strong­hold of op­po­si­tion to the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad af­ter nine years of war. Ariha’s en­tire pop­u­la­tion headed north as much of the town was razed to the ground. But as a cease­fire held, some of the most des­ti­tute have since opted to re­turn and look for cheap ac­com­mo­da­tion amid the ru­ins. Abu Ziad came back last month and found a place to stay.

But he wanted to share at least one if­tarthe meal that breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast­where his home used to be. “Ev­ery year we used to spend Ra­madan here and we wanted to spend one day of this Ra­madan here,” he says. All around them and as far as the eye could see, there is not a soul-just row af­ter row of de­stroyed homes etch­ing out a scrag­gly, sin­is­ter sky­line in the twi­light. The home’s kitchen is long gone, but Abu Ziad’s mother says they came pre­pared. “We brought ready meals from out­side,” she ex­plains. “The most im­por­tant thing is that we re­live our mem­o­ries and eat in our home.”

We are here on top of the de­struc­tion

— AFP

ARIHA: Mem­bers of the dis­placed Syr­ian fam­ily of Tareq Abu Ziad, from the town of Ariha in the south­ern coun­try­side of the Idlib prov­ince, break their fast to­gether for the sun­set ‘if­tar’ meal, in the midst of the rub­ble of their de­stroyed home upon their re­turn to the town af­ter flee­ing dur­ing the pre­vi­ous mil­i­tary as­sault by Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces and their al­lies.

AN NAYRAB: A Syr­ian man rides his mo­tor­bike past a dam­aged school build­ing in Al-Nayrab, a vil­lage rav­aged by pro-gov­ern­ment forces bom­bard­ment near the M4 strate­gic high­way, in the north­west­ern Idlib prov­ince. —AFP

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