Cleanup operations could permanently change the character of east Damascus

Recent cleanup efforts by the Syrian government in the recently-captured eastern Damascus area threaten to forever change the character of the neighborhoods.

Satellite imagery has revealed that bombed-out buildings torn apart by years of fierce fighting between rebels and government forces are now being cleared away. Hundreds of damaged apartment buildings in the historically poor neighborhoods of Jobar, Zamalka, Ain Tarma, and Qaboun were slowly demolished over the past month.

These demolitions are reminiscent of the massive bulldozings of two slums in Hama in 2013. Before their capture by the government, these slums were rebel strongholds due to their large unemployed population of young Sunni men. The same is true for the neighborhoods in east Damascus, where large numbers of rural villagers migrated after they lost work due to the drought.

Since the demolitions are occurring primarily along two key highways, it is possible that these buildings will be replaced by high-end apartments. This is already occurring with the Marotta City project east of Mezzeh (in west Damascus), where Bashar al-Assad confiscated houses and demolished the neighborhood of Basateen al-Razi to begin building luxury apartments in its place.

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