A member of the political committee of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), Salim al-Khatib, has emphasized that the recent fire that engulfed Sarouja Market on Monday was part of a deliberate effort to erase the historical identity of Damascus. Al-Khatib pointed out that those who destroy the homes of the city’s inhabitants will not hesitate to target important landmarks like Sarouja Market, which holds significant cultural value for the city.
Al-Khatib stated that the damage caused by the fire in the market is extensive. This is particularly concerning because the market housed the Center for Historical Documents, which held five million documents chronicling the history of Syria. Additionally, the market was home to the residence of Abd al-Rahman Pasha al-Youssef, the emir of Hajj in the former Ottoman Empire.
Highlighting a series of successive fires that have plagued Damascus over the past decade, Al-Khatib suggested that there are individuals or groups intentionally targeting the city’s landmarks. He further stressed that the Assad regime, responsible for the destruction of the city’s outskirts and the displacement of its people, would not hesitate to incite fires in places that fuel its sectarian tendencies.
Fortunately, Al-Khatib noted that the original documents were unaffected by the fire. These documents hold significant historical and ancestral information about ancient Damascene families. Al-Khatib called upon the United Nations and UNESCO to devise an international strategy for protecting and preserving these documents from vandalism. He also urged them to take action to prevent the Assad regime and sectarian militias from causing further damage.
Throughout the years of the Syrian revolution, the old souks of Damascus have experienced multiple devastating fires. In 2016, more than 80 shops were consumed by fire in the Al-Asrounieh souq near the shrine of Saiyeda Ruqayyah. The renowned Al-Hamidiya souq also fell victim to a major fire at the end of the same year. In July 2017, another fire broke out in Bab Al-Jabiya in Old Damascus, and in 2020, the Al-Bazouriya souq in Old Damascus was also engulfed in flames, resulting in significant material losses and destruction.
(Source: SOC’s Media Department)