City of Barzah, Battle of Bringing life into Heart of Destruction


Enab Baladi Issue # 125 – Sun, July. 13, 2014 

Husam Mohammed – Damascus

The life in Barzeh is stable; it is the ancient neighbourhood of Damascus that has suffered what it suffered from the continuing conflict in Syria. After achieving the so-called “national reconciliation” in this neighbourhood, the military activities stopped over there and the mass disaster and the huge destruction became clearer especially in regard to the humanitarian catastrophe that has its influence on the inhabitants of this neighbourhood.

With the desire to continue, some people returned to the area and started simple jobs that often seem to be a real challenge for the war makers and their tools.

  • The disaster is more than to be described

The neighbourhood of Barzah witnessed the most intense struggle between the armed opposition and the regime forces supported with local militia groups. This struggle reached its peak in the summer of 2012 when Syrian authorities used the helicopters to shell the neighbourhood of Barzah after having many clashes between members of the Free Army who are from the area itself and members of the militia groups. After that, the Syrian authorities used various weapons including warplanes and then the conflict ended in the beginning of 2014 with the “national reconciliation”.

However, the destruction in the neighbourhood in some areas exceeded 80% while, other areas were completely on ground. The Syrian authorities at that time justified this action by saying that these buildings are illegal and their owners were warned earlier to leave. This struggle was accompanied with the displacement of more than three-quarters of the residents of the neighbourhood to the outside where the city remained mostly empty. This allowed many strange people to steal the homes and the shops of the city in a systematic manner.

  • Return to the area despite the horror of destruction  

Once the people of this neighbourhood felt that the situation is more quiet, they returned to their homes as they suffered what they suffered from the displacement crises from the increased renting prices to end with the absence of jobs that can ensure them a decent living. Despite the horrible outcome of the conflict, people felt that going back to their homes is the best alternative for them with hearing the news of the stability of the situation in their area. Families chose to live in either partially destroyed homes or living in large numbers in homes that had not been destroyed.

  • Simple jobs are back in Barzah

The neighbourhood of Barzah was famous in car maintenance vocations. In the past, there was an entire section in the road leading to Tishreen Military Hospital with one kilometre long specialised in car maintenance shops and other places to sell car accessories and its spare parts. The existence of the expertise in this market, attracted many people to come from all over Damascus and its countryside to repair their cars. With the beginning of the conflict and the destruction of all these shops, the car maintenance market is badly affected in Syria generally and Damascus particularly. This situation has led to increase the costs of cars’ repairing because of the scarcity of the pieces or their presence in remote areas.

However, some stockholders have once again opened simple workshops with the stable situation using the boxes of the metal locomotives as shops for them. They started again in purchasing spare cars pieces taking advantage of their expertise in restoring the spirit of this region as it is the first area in the auto maintenance in Damascus.

Many shopkeepers returned to their shops despite the destruction and their inability to re-build them, to benefit from them and secure their livelihood even if it is simple. Other people proceeded to establish “stands ” in the streets with some types of vegetables and other food items to meet the needs of the residents of the neighbourhood.

  • The dream of lasting stability

Many residents of Barzah neighbourhood, whether they are outside or inside, wish the continuity of this stability because living in a temporary stability is not a solution, as what the residents say. Accordingly, any temporary solution that does not entail a radical change in the life for the benefit of the legitimate demands that people asked for is not a solution. Yet, it is just a short-term residency in a neighbourhood where its martyrs and destruction are the witnesses of a real battle that people experienced when they asked for the freedom and the democracy that they look forward to in the near future.

Translated by: Ruba Al Jarf

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