Aleppo and Syria's Fallujah


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Middle East » Syria » North » Aleppo
November 7th 2004
Published: February 25th 2006
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Aleppo was our first taste of Syria. I remember the first impressions where that all the buildings seemed to look alike, having the same gold sandstone material and giving an extremely homogonous feel to the city. We arrived around sunset, and would be leaving around lunchtime the next day. Not much time to check out the parts of the city left off the guided tour (basically anything to do with everyday Syria). Our hotel was very nice, but tucked away in a back alley that our bus could not get us anywhere close too. If my memory serves me right, we had to hull our bags around a quarter of a mile to get to the lobby. The place was great; Syria is the best value of all the Middle Eastern Countries I have been to. For less than what the other ‘marginal’ hotels cost in Turkey and Lebanon, we would stay at some very nice places throughout Syria. Damascus was the exception. Our hotel had a courtyard with a view of the citadel, and the rooms were well appointed (good towels, quality fixtures, marble tiled floors etc). Since time was short and our ‘guided’ tour started first thing in the morning. Toby, Jon and I headed out to find some Mosque that he had heard about. I guess this is the problem with trying to find ‘a Mosque’ in the Middle East, there are way too many of them for the locals to keep track of. After getting conflicting directions several times, we decided to follow the last set of directions until we were out of sight and then head back to the hotel. This was not a complete loss. In the process, we bumped into numerous kind souls and were even given free tea from some gents chatting away on the street. Considering which country we were in, Toby and I went by our 2nd nationalities. He was Venezuelan and I presented myself as solely Hungarian. Jon was the lone ranger; he just told everybody he was American and Toby and I certainly weren’t going to shut him up. If he wanted to attempt to seek out any Islamofascist characters in town, who where we to discourage him? Not that ‘fear’ was the only motivator for not mentioning the 2nd half of our identity. I believe both Toby and I had grown tired of insistently having to explain American foreign policy to Arabs. It was the country’s policy not ours. Like it or not, we really didn’t have anything to do with it. I had already had the experience of spending a solid half hour discussing the topic with a professor at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. That process included him storming out to the tune of ‘Death to Israel’ multiple times. Although we concluded with him agreeing that voting for Bush was not necessarily a bad thing (I explained the difference between foreign and domestic policy, and how we only get to choose one person who determines both), I didn’t want to have to take that much time and put up with the emotional tirades in every city I visited. So, the two of us where more than happy to go by our alternate identities. Before heading back, we stopped by the citadel and goofed around a little at the base. I tried to scale the slope leading up to the castle walls, but it was too steep for me and I only made it about 25 yards up. I can imagine that it must have been difficult to do in a combat situation. This could explain why the structure was never successfully assaulted. We had our tour first thing in the morning. The citadel was an impressive sight. A small city perched upon a hill that had an amazing view of the whole city. There is a full scale restoration project in progress, and it would be interesting to return in a few years once it has concluded. Besides a Mosque, royal court, theater, barracks and general residences, there were multiple levels and lots of room to exercise horses etc. Due to the restoration work, it was hard to get a good idea of what it looked like in the day. But, without too much delay, it was time to get back into the bus for a ride to another interesting site: Hama(h), the site of an 80’s revolution by fundamentalists that resulted in the government slaughter of over 20,000 residents. Its not politically correct to do any tourism related to the incident, so we just swung through the city basically because it was on our way to our next hotel.


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Between the main gate doorsBetween the main gate doors
Between the main gate doors

This key future was meant to defeat the use of battering rams. Because the 2nd gate is aligned right next to the 1st, it would require the complete turn of the ram. This was impossible due to the tight space.
The Wheel of Homa(h)The Wheel of Homa(h)
The Wheel of Homa(h)

Don't know why we saw this, most likely because it was the only thing besides the un PC repression of the '82 revolt that the city is known for.


4th May 2006

American policy
Wow... Fancy having to defend the policies of Mad King George Bush///that would be hard..better not to say anything!! The only more indefensible would be the Zionist in Israel..that even worse.

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