Resilience, Peace and Security

This drone footage captures the full extent of Syria’s destruction

A general view shows damaged buildings in the northwestern Homs district of Al Waer January 18, 2015.  REUTERS/Stringer

Five years of conflict in Syria has turned some cities into ghost towns. Image: REUTERS/Stringer

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Middle East and North Africa

New drone footage shows much of the Syrian city of Homs reduced to rubble, its remaining buildings empty shells.

A centre of the 2011 uprising, most of Homs has been destroyed by five years of conflict. The city became known as the “capital of the revolution” and was once Syria’s third largest city, but is now largely a ghost town.

The video is a powerful reminder of the devastation caused by years of war, and a shocking insight into the suffering of the Syrian people. The footage was captured by RussiaWorks – a crew associated with a Russian state broadcaster.

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What happened in Homs?

Homs was a centre of the initially peaceful uprising against President Assad, with thousands of residents taking to the streets in protest.

Syrian government forces laid siege to the city and the destruction seen in the footage above is a result of their struggle to finally retake the city in December 2015.

As the video highlights, the city, once home to over 650,000 people, is largely deserted and few signs of life are seen in the rubble-filled streets.

The destruction of Homs is a scene replicated across much of Syria. The government, ISIS and a mixture of Syrian rebel and Kurdish fighter groups all control areas of the country.

The refugee crisis

The conflict has caused one of the largest movements of people in modern times, with 11m Syrians forced to leave their homes. Amnesty International believes 50 families have been displaced every hour since the conflict began.

As attitudes and policies in some areas of Europe towards refugees harden, it is worth noting that only around 10% of the 4.5m people who have left Syria have come to Europe.

The scale of devastation is clear in the drone footage, and a reminder of exactly what Syrian refugees are fleeing.

A recent donor conference has raised more than $10bn in pledges. However, the work needed to ensure the refugees don’t become a ‘lost generation’ is significant.

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