International snub about civilians lives in Palmyra

Residents of Palmyra deplore international interest directed towards ruins more in lieu of civilians’ lives

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Residents of Palmyra city are complaining that the international community is more concerned about the ruins in Palmyra rather than the lives of its residents after ISIS took control of the city.

NBC News quoted Nasser al-Saer, a local resident from Palmyra, saying that he believes “the international community cares about the stone statues much more than about us."

"There is a general disappointment or a discontent by the people," he added.

On May 19, ISIS took control of the city of Palmyra leading the regime forces retreat from the city. After capturing the city, ISIS captured the famous prison of Tadmur, setting free the entirety of its incarcerated detainees.

Since ISIS captured the historic city of Palmyra, the international community’s interest has been directed to what will happen to the relics in the city.

Cultural preservation organisations are worried that ISIS might destroy the relics as the group destroyed most of the ruins in Iraq’s Namrud city, pushing the media’s consensus on covering the city’s heritage rather than its civilians.

Speaking about the conditions of the disappointed residents still living in Palmyra, Saer said some people "actually want ISIS to destroy the relics and museums in response to the silence of the international community about what is happening."

“The future is unclear," he said. "People are afraid."

Moreover, people there are afraid of the raids launched by warplanes loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, as local residents report the regime air strikes hit the city every now and then without distinguishing between ISIS fighters and the civilians.

Professor Baja Sarraj, a former prisoner in Tadmor prison, the most notorious prison run by regime known for incidents of torture, told NBC news it would be a "a weird argument to say ISIS are not as bad as Assad."

Sarraj moved to Chicago after he was released from Tadmor in 1995 and became an immunology professor.

"The lesser of two evils is not fine," Sarraj said. "They are still evil."

"The people are suffering," he said. "I don't blame people for talking about ruins, but please talk about the lives too."

TRTWorld and agencies