Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

AAAS report shows steady escalation of destruction in Aleppo

August 7, 2013
American Association for the Advancement of Science
In Syria's largest city, Aleppo, damage to buildings and infrastructure steadily increased over a recent ten-month period, according to a AAAS analysis of satellite images.

This is an example of massive destruction. On Sept. 9, 2012, (top) Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district is completely intact. By Dec. 15, 2012, however, large areas of the district (outlined in red) have suffered extensive damage, one large multistory tower (red arrows) has been destroyed, and another (yellow arrows) has partially collapsed. Roadblocks and debris in the street suggest heavy fighting.
Credit: Imagery copyright 2013 DigitalGlobe; Analysis by AAAS

In Syria's largest city, Aleppo, damage to buildings and infrastructure steadily increased over a ten-month period ending in May 2013, according to a new analysis by AAAS of high-resolution satellite images. Virtually all of the destruction appears to be in rebel-controlled or contested areas, and a substantial amount is in Aleppo's Ancient City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Related Articles

Aleppo has been the site of ongoing conflict since July 2012. Since then, the city has experienced a nearly constant rate of damage to its physical structures, at about three incidents per day on average, AAAS reported. The researchers also documented other signs of intensifying military activity, such as an increased deployment of military equipment and a proliferation of improvised roadblocks.

The findings appear in a 7 August report (http://srhrl.aaas.org/geotech/syria/aleppo_retrospective.shtml) by the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at AAAS. The analysis, completed independently by AAAS at the request of Amnesty International, USA (AIUSA), compares nine satellite images collected at regular intervals between August 2012 and May 2013.

"We are documenting a war zone," said Susan Wolfinbarger, Director of the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project. "It's a really dangerous situation in Aleppo. There are people on the ground reporting out, but they're in specific, localized places and not able to move around freely. What we're able to do is provide a comprehensive look at the situation over time, examining the entire city and assessing what is going on throughout the area."

In addition to the battered buildings and other structures that appear in the satellite images, debris fields and craters also indicate damage.

The destruction has not been uniform, the AAAS team reported. Some areas have been heavily affected by the conflict, while others remain largely or totally unaffected. Of the 713 incidents of destruction observed during the study period, only six took place in districts reported to be under the control of forces loyal to the Syrian government. The rest were in areas under rebel control, under Kurdish control -- whose authority was actively being contested -- or for which control was unknown.

Located at the crossroads of trade routes that date back to the second millennium B.C., Aleppo contains many ancient structures of historical and cultural significance. The report documents damage to at least ten multi-story buildings as well as to mosques and cemeteries in the Ancient City. It also corroborates previous reports of damage to two important historical sites, the Umayyad Mosque and the Souq al-Madina.

The results also show an increase in military equipment, including artillery, tanks and aircraft in the affected areas. A number of military helicopters, for example, were observed on the tarmac at the Aleppo International Airport. Their numbers and positions changed frequently, suggesting regular use.

"Though other interpretations may be possible, this striking dichotomy in damage, in conjunction with direct observations of military activity, is consistent with reports that government forces have been using aircraft, missiles, and long-range artillery to bombard rebel-held areas," the report stated.

The creation of roadblocks to control movement within the city has also ramped up in the past year, as documented in the report. These appear to be mostly trucks or buses placed across strategic intersections, but others take the form of earthen barricades or deep trenches.

"It's interesting to see that the roadblocks are all across the city. One might think these would be more prevalent in rebel-held areas -- perhaps as defensive positions -- but in fact, it appears that the highest concentrations occur where regime forces are reported to be in control," said Jonathan Drake, an imagery analyst for the Project.

The AAAS analysis covered 182 square kilometers of Aleppo and surrounding regions. It was based on nine satellite images captured over a ten-month period by DigitalGlobe Inc.'s Quickbird-2, Ikonos-2, and Geoeye-1 satellites, as well as by Astrium's Pleiades satellite. A previous AAAS report of the same area, based on two images captured in August 2012, appeared to reveal the deployment of heavy armored vehicles in civilian neighborhoods as well as 117 instances of damage to buildings and infrastructure.

AAAS emphasized that its image analysis was occasionally limited by the density of buildings in Aleppo and the shadows they cast, as well as the viewing angle of the satellites at certain times. "Despite these challenges, it was possible to observe many signs of the conflict throughout the study area," the report stated.

The AAAS Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project, part of the association's Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, has previously provided objective image analysis to help explain events in Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Ossetia, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe and many other regions. Geospatial technologies include remote sensing, geographic information systems and Global Positioning Systems that allow for mapping and analysis of multiple layers of geo-referenced data.

The Project was recently awarded a $119,474 grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) that will enable AAAS to analyze cross-border conflicts using satellite imagery and to identify trends for the future use of this technology as a means of conflict early-warning prediction and prevention.

On 25 July, the United Nations announced that the civil war in Syria had taken more than 100,000 lives since it began in 2011. The United States is providing nearly $510 million in humanitarian aid in response to the Syrian crisis and Congress has recently approved a proposal by President Obama to begin providing military support to the Syrian rebels. The United Nations plans to send inspectors to Syria to investigate three reports of chemical weapons use.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "AAAS report shows steady escalation of destruction in Aleppo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130807094603.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2013, August 7). AAAS report shows steady escalation of destruction in Aleppo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130807094603.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "AAAS report shows steady escalation of destruction in Aleppo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130807094603.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Science & Society News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Models in Masks Highlight Indonesian Environmental Devastation

Models in Masks Highlight Indonesian Environmental Devastation

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Wearing gas masks and designer dresses, models condemn the fashion industry&apos;s role in causing environmental devastation. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Future Of Japanese Whaling: Heritage Vs. Conservation

The Future Of Japanese Whaling: Heritage Vs. Conservation

Newsy (Mar. 30, 2015) — In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled Japan could no longer engage in whaling in the Antarctic, but Japan has plans to return this year. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins