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Syria before the tragedy

Photos: Michel Traverse.

The following photo-documentary was conducted from the 12th to the 15th March 2011, three days before the first event triggering the Syrian conflict. Two years on, the images that come to mind at the mention of Syria are the ones that the mainstream media have continuously spread since the beginning of the war: cruel, bloody images, of battlefields and especially those of a seemingly endless war. But who remembers Syria before the tragedy? Before these terrifying images were propagated?

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Notwithstanding the current drama in Syria today, the following photos are intended to show the old Syria: streets, buildings, markets, daily life of cities that have disappeared to make way for the battlefield and at the same time, a panorama without a future, evoking only fear and death.

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The photographs were taken in three cities affected by the armed conflict: Damascus, Aleppo and Palmyra.

The photos of Damascus show the beautiful Umayyad Mosque, dating from nearly 900 years ago. The 400 meter Al- Hamidiyah Souq passageway is also showcased, where today only a few closed rooms and rubble remains of this UN heritage site, recognized as such since 1999.

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The neighborhoods of  Aleppo – ‘Ard al- Hamra, Tariq al- Jabal and Baby Badro –  are also remembered through these photos. Their streets, their markets, their interiors have undergone the same fate as those of Damascus: they are now no more than ruins. In 2012, the bombings also destroyed the viewpoint of the fortress of Kalat al Mudiq (XII century). We wanted to share the beautiful views you could still enjoy less than three years ago, in the city that has become a sad symbol of the Syrian drama.

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Palmyra is an oasis in the Syrian Desert, 210 km North – East of Damascus.  It was famous for its Roman and Byzantine ruins: they now serve as a military base and are home to the heavy artillery of the army of Bashar el Assad, current Syrian President.

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To date, in Syria, there are over a thousand military checkpoints in the country. More than 1450 mosques, schools, homes, museums, plazas, markets and roads have been destroyed, according to data collected by the UN. The human toll of the conflict is reported to be more than 100,000 dead and four million displaced.

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