In Syria, Nature Is Also a Casualty

Among the disasters that mark a devastating winter of war in Syria can now be added the progressive destruction of the environment, including small, previously protected wooded areas in Syrian Mesopotamia. Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham, titular of the Metropolitan See of Jazira and Euphrates, saw for himself the ruinous effects of the war in a recent visit to the National Park. “The poor Bedouin from the suburbs of Hassaké,” the Archbishop wrote, “have cut off the old trees there.” The “looting” for fuel took place, he said, “under the eyes of the guardians of the park,” who did not have the heart to intervene because of the obvious need to survive the cold weather. The deforestation and environmental damage, the archbishop said, are a side effect of a Syrian catastrophe that already includes “deaths, destruction, inflation, poverty, immigration, kidnapping.”

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