New Film Exposes Extant of Assad and Iran’s Displacement and Erasure of Sunni Cities


A new documentary “Cities Without Souls” exposes serious violations against the Syrian people, especially Sunnis, by the Iranian and Assad regime and their militias, which are systemically altering the demography of Syria. The movie shows how the regime and its allies carry out a campaign of forced and permanent displacement of predominately Sunni regions – effectively emptying entire cities, thus creating “Cities Without Souls.”

Last year Syria Direct’s report, “Locusts,” showed how “homes of Syrians displaced from regime-controlled areas including Yarmouk camp and the southern Idlib countryside are being systematically looted and destroyed.”

Cities similarly depict the organized looting and demolition of towns, villages, and cities which leaves nothing behind but scars of habitation and memories. Marat Numan, Haas, Kafruma, Kafr Nubl, Maraat Hurma, Shiekh Mustafa Maar Zita, Tal Minas, and nearly 20 other villages from Sahl Ghab and the countryside of Idlib and Aleppo are highlighted in the film.

Yesterday, the film premiered to a limited group of around 120 academics and displaced persons from the locals documented in the film. Various media outlets also covered the event, Syria TV, Halab Today TV, and several journalists, including Majed Abdel Nour, Ismail Al Raj, Moataz Khattab, activist Moataz Nasser, and Mahdi Al Kamakh were all in attendance.

For many in attendance, the experience was very emotional as it was the first time, they had seen their homes since being expelled under bombs and hails of bullets. The devastation that had been wrought in the aftermath of their expulsion brought many to tears as many of the houses and villages were unrecognizable as buildings were completely demolished and looted, with even the rebar in roofs being stolen.

The screening was accompanied by a presentation from political analyst and blogger, Moataz Nasser. In his speech, Nasser exposed the “clear awareness of the extent of the international conspiracy against the Sunnis in the Middle East region,” and linked the events and patterns of forced displacement and engineered demographic changes in Syria to those occurring today in Palestine and Gaza, in particular, while highlighting the historical context of the Sunni displacement from regions in Syria since the purges of the 1980s.

The devastation captured on screen is not just a portrayal of ruined buildings; it’s a testament to the shattered lives and communities left behind. With each demolished home and looted village, Assad and his allies aim to erase not just physical structures but also the very essence of these cities’ souls. Yet, as many in attendance made clear, despite the attempts to silence their voices, the resilience, and determination of the displaced remain unbroken. “Cities Without Souls” serves as a crucial reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and the urgent need for the international community to address the atrocities committed against the Syrian people by the criminal regime in Damascus.


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