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Destruction-in-Progress: Revolution, Repression and War Planning in Syria (2011 Onwards)

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The infra-state conflict that has engulfed Syria since March 2011 began with a popular and peaceful mobilization calling for freedom and dignity. In 2014, after three years of heavy repression by the regime and the militarization of part of the opposition, large parts of the country are destroyed. The extent of urban destruction in Syria questions the role of the material goods in an armed conflict. Indeed, according to international humanitarian law, 'civilian objects' cannot be targeted in the absence of clearly defined and circumscribed military objectives. In Syria, the use of destruction as an instrument of warfare is documented clear and well. In other terms, and as this article tries to demonstrate, in many respects urban destruction seems to be more than a side effect of the armed confrontation. Drawing on a spatially informed analysis, the article aims to document urban destruction and offer analytical leads as to such destruction's place in the regime warfare. To do so, the scope of urban destruction, and the historical and spatial contexts in which it takes place are presented, followed by a classification of four types of urban destruction based on different spatial patterns. The typology of the different spatial patterns of destruction shows that destruction is not only a consequence of war but is central to the regime's strategy.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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