Damascus holds Martyrs’ Day rally on former battlefield

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 03:30 GMT, May 7, 2018 |

After seven years of being a site of danger and death, eastern Damascus’ Abbasiyn square hosted a concert on Sunday (May 6) to commemorate the national holiday of Martyrs’ Day and celebrate the Syrian army’s recapture of eastern Ghouta.

Hundreds of Syrians gathered in the square, only a few hundred metres away from the former rebel stronghold in Jobar, as Farah choir, a famous choir in Syria, sang traditional songs.

For years the square and neighbouring areas were targets of mortar attacks fired by rebels, which killing hundreds. A member of Farah choir died from a mortar attack in the square in 2013.

Damascus resident Dima, who attended the rally, told Reuters the celebration was to “commemorate life not death”.

Priest Elias Zahlawai, the head of Farah Choir, called all Syrians to return to their home.

In the first big event held in the square after the evacuation of rebels from eastern Ghouta, people sang and applauded while singing for Damascus and peace for its people.

Eastern Ghouta, which used to be the biggest rebel stronghold near Damascus, was announced free of militants on April 14 after a Russian-sponsored deal allowed rebels to leave for northern Syria, a move that strengthened the control of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad over the capital.

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