My method for recording damage to cultural sites in Syria has always been, first, to give a synopsis of the history of the damaged monuments with pictures if available, then to give an account of the damage mostly in pictures I have collected from several sources including Facebook and the archaeological sites which post regularly there. I sometimes add my own commentaries and annotations but not in this case. However, I think the damage to the Krak speaks for itself. It is beyond belief.
Krak des Chevaliers (French pronunciation: [kʁak de ʃəvaˈlje]) (Arabic: قلعة الحصن), also Crac des Chevaliers, is a Crusadercastle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. The site was first inhabited in the 11th century by a settlement of Kurds; as a result it was known as Hisn al Akrad, meaning the “Castle of the Kurds”. In 1142 it was given by Raymond II, Count of Tripoli, to the Knights Hospitaller. It remained in their possession until it fell in 1271. It became known as Crac de l’Ospital; the name Krak des Chevaliers was coined in the 19th century…..
Despite its predominantly military character, the castle is one of the few sites where Crusader art (in the form of frescoes) has been preserved. In 1935, 1955, and 1978 medieval frescoes were discovered within Krak des Chevaliers after later plaster and white-wash had decayed. The frescos were painted on the interior and exterior of the main chapel and the chapel outside the main entrance, which no longer survives. Writing in 1982, historian Jaroslav Folda noted that at the time there had been little investigation of Crusader frescoes that would provide a comparison for the fragmentary remains found at Krak des Chevaliers. Those in the chapel were painted on the masonry from the 1170–1202 rebuild. Mould, smoke, and moisture have made it difficult to preserve the frescoes. The fragmentary nature of the red and blue frescoes inside the chapel means they are difficult to assess. The one on the exterior of the chapel depicted the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. For more information see Wikipedia
After months of shelling, pounding and bombardment from the air by government forces the Crusadercastle fell to the Syrian army in March and the village nestling to it was destroyed and sacked by militias of Assad. The images bellow show the extensive savage damage to the Krak. The pictures make me want to scream. Every breath I draw rejects and condemns the destruction of Syria on such a scale. I wish I could say they know not what they are doing, but they do. Alisar Iram
Also see Bearing witness: list of damage to archaeological sites, monuments and heritage in Syria Credits Images posted to Facebook by activists and Archaeology pages. Images published by DGAM
Updated: Please read
“In March, during a massive government offensive against opposition strongholds on the border with Lebanon, Syrian jets unleashed a series of airstrikes. Heavy cannon fire pummeled the castle walls, with shells causing some ancient stone structures to crumble. Some of the shells ricocheted against the mighty stone structures, leaving deep marks on the historic citadel…The army did not stop there. Its tanks went house to house in the empty village, methodically destroying each…”