Who or what was the target of the Damascus Old City bomb?
The world’s media is distracted by the build-up to Egypt’s 30 June showdown, so an important event was given only scant and even misleading coverage. On 27 June the BBC website reported what it called a blast from a suicide bomber in the Christian Quarter of Damascus’ Old City:
The BBC commentary went on to assume that the target was the Christian community, specifically the Greek Orthodox church of the Virgin Mary which was close to the blast, and then talked about how Christians have been targeted before and are being drawn into the conflict.
But the Greek Orthodox church of Miriamiye as it is known, is not really in a Christian part of the Old City, but beside the Roman Arch on Straight Street which marks the rough boundary between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish quarters. The church is directly opposite Naranj, a classy restaurant right beside the Roman Arch, known to be one of Bashar Al-Assad’s favourite dining places and often used by regime figures.
Closer examination of the facts reveals that the bomb in fact exploded not outside the church, but 50 yards away outside a Muslim charity where the suicide bomber was said to be queuing up for food with other residents. Four people were killed, many more injured and nearby shops damaged. But Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen newspaper put forward another theory – that the target was a nearby post of the National Defence Forces, a regime paramilitary force fighting the rebels.
About three hours after that blast, two mortar shells landed in nearby Al-Amin street, a mainly Shi’a area, wounding a number of people.
No one has claimed responsibility for these blasts, and local residents are confused. Was the target Christian, regime, rebel or Shi’a? No one knows except those who perpetrated the acts.
It tragically sums up what is happening increasingly now in Syria’s civil war – that very often no one knows anymore who is doing what to whom.