‘We were living in security and peace. These areas are being targeted, they want to force us to leave. Every Syrian is being targeted,’ one Syrian religious leader told a delegation of reporters who visited Aleppo earlier this month.
by Eva Bartlett
Part 3 - The FSA’s underground prison in al-Layramoun
We walked through the ornately-carved entrance of a building in the al-Layramoun industrial district that once housed a dye factory. More recently, though, it’s been used as a base by the 16th Division of the Free Syrian Army. In an interior room, I noticed a 4G mobile phone card from Turkcell, Turkey’s leading mobile phone operator.
In neighboring buildings we saw bags of materials reportedly used to make the gas canister and water heater explosives known colloquially as Hell 1 and Hell 2, the latter of which can inflict significantly more damage, including leveling entire floors of houses. There were also metal fragments, which are added to explosives to inflict maximum damage. Another room contained a pile of shavings which one of the Syrian soldiers accompanying us said was used to compress explosives in the gas canister bombs which the Free Syrian Army and other terrorist groups fire upon neighborhoods in greater Aleppo.
When we approached the Nusra Front-occupied road leading toward Daher Abed Rabbo, SAA soldiers advised us to run, not walk.
Just beyond that road, bunkered three stories below ground, the Free Syrian Army’s nightmarish improvised prison for SAA captives was untouched by the bombs inflicting damage above-ground. These attacks target terrorists who fire on the civilians of Aleppo and retreat underground.
Al-Layramoun and Bani Zaid are home to the same landscape of battered buildings that one finds in areas where militants have bunkered deeply down. Seeing the destruction, some of the other journalists in our delegation mention only the physical damage to the buildings. “Buildings lay pancaked by airstrikes,” one wrote, pointing an incriminating finger at the Syrian government without giving any context as to why these areas were hammered.
The real shame is not actually the physical destruction of buildings, but the incursion into these districts by Western-backed terrorists, including the Free Syrian Army, the Nusra Front, and Da’esh, among others. Nearly six years into the needless bloodshed, their criminal and savage acts against Syrian civilians and soldiers are well-documented. And it’s common knowledge that they bunker down to avoid airstrikes.
The Free Syrian Army’s nine suffocating, improvised metal solitary confinement cells and three rooms used as regular cells in the underground prison bunker in al-Layramoun were all intact despite the aerial bombings. Buildings are devastated above-ground because of the presence of militants deep underground, where airstrikes inflict considerably less damage.