Rebels destroy ‘Palace of Justice’ courthouse in Aleppo’s Old City


BOMBING FROM BELOW: Liwa Ahrar Souria and Jabhat a-Nusra destroyed a regime headquarters in a historic courthouse known as the “Palace of Justice” in the Old City of Aleppo on Tuesday, imposing a blockade on the adjacent regime-controlled Aleppo Citadel and sparking condemnation from citizens who regarded the incident as an attack on Aleppo’s heritage.

“There is no justification for destroying the history of the city,” said Ahmed, a citizen journalist in Aleppo. “Ninety percent of the buildings around the castle are historical.”

Opposition forces dug a tunnel underneath the building and detonated it from underground, mimicking a tactic they used to destroy the historic Carlton Hotel in early February.

The Ahl a-Sham Joint Operations Room, comprised of powerful Islamist rebel groups the Islamic Front, Jabhat a-Nusra and Jaish al-Mujahideen, had been launching artillery fire at the building, where government snipers had consistently repelled any ground advance.

In December, Liwa Ahrar Souriya destroyed parts of the building in a similar operation, digging a tunnel to the building’s perimeter.

In destroying the Palace of Justice, rebels have imposed a complete blockade on historic Aleppo Citadel, said Ahmed, forcing the government to airlift food and ammunition to its encircled troops.

The destruction of the building comes amidst an intensifying battle for old Aleppo and across the city.

Pro-government newspaper al-Watan reported that a number of “terrorists” were killed Tuesday, as government troops “inflicted calamitous losses on Jabhat a-Nusra in the area around al-Lirmoun in Aleppo,” making no reference to the explosion at the Palace of Justice.

Meanwhile, the pro-opposition Local Coordination Committees in Aleppo reported that regime troops had used cluster bombs in the northern portion of the city, near the regime-controlled Aleppo Central Prison, which rebel forces have been encircling for months.

Photo courtesy of the Joint Operations Room of Ahl a-Sham.

-March 19, 2014

-By Mohammed Ali Al Haj Ali

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