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memri
October 13, 1999 No.
49

A New Exhibition of Syrian Wars.

For the 26th anniversary of the October 1973 war, the Syrian government opened a new exhibition site that commemorates both ancient and contemporary wars in which Syria was involved. The London-based Arab daily, Al-Hayat, of October 7,1999 reports:

"At the northern entrance of Damascus, a statue of President Hafez Assad leading the war rises high. The statue is 28 feet tall and stands in an open area of 10 square miles, at the center of which is a shining bronze dome. Syrian and Korean engineers, who in the last 6 years came specifically for this project, designed two areas, each 415 acres in size. The first area displays weaponry from airplanes, guns and tanks taken from the enemy while the second holds Syrian weaponry from that war."

"The entry hall was devised in a way that combines past and present. First is a large bas-relief on the wall describing the battle of Maysaloon in 1922 [between Syrian nationalists and French forces] led by Yousef Al-Azmeh who tried to prevent the French from entering Damscus."

"There are also large oil-paintings of President Assad surrounded by his highest commanders. Around this are four paintings, one depicting the unification of the country 5000 years ago after the battle of Ibila which resulted in the signing of an ancient peace treaty at the beginning of [recorded] history. The second painting shows queen Zenobia of Tudmur [a small ancient kingdom in central Syria] yearning for the liberation and unification of the country."

"On the right side of the hall there are two other pictures, one of Kalif Al-Waleed ibn abd Al- Malik surrounded by his commanders Musa ibn Nasir and Tariq ibn Ziyad as they return from the conquest of Andiamusiya [Spain]. The other picture depicts Salah Al-Deen Al-Ayubi [Saladin] on his horse and with his entourage receiving the defeated Crusader kings after the battle of Hittin in 1187. In the background of this painting is the dome of the rock of Jerusalem. A similar picture, hung in the Syrian presidential palace, has piqued the interests of many world leaders who met with President Assad."

"Regarding the October 1973 war, on the eastern wing, is a multi-media presentation of Syrian forces breaking into the Mount Hermon [Israeli] observation point. After this, on the stairs to the upper floor, are pictures of the Syrian navy. Finally you reach the picture called the 'October War Panorama' which about 425 feet long with a total area of about 3300 square feet. It includes all the details of the war from the moment it broke out through the destruction of Quneitra by the Israelis after the signing of the Disengagement Agreement in May 1974 and to the raising of the Syrian flag by President Assad in Quieitra after the Israelis left. [This withdrawal was] a first step towards a [total Israeli] withdrawal from the Golan within the context of the peace treaty that will result from the negotiations that will come with the rising hopes since Barak's election in May."