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Elaph By Ali Abrahim

People in Damascus woke up last Saturday morning on flames and smoke covering vast area in the middle of al-Asroniyya Market, which is located in the old neighbourhood of the capital. The fire completely destructed more than 85 shops.

It is not the first fire of its kind. A few days earlier, there were several small fires targeted some shops in this commercial area. These fire incidents have made some wonder who the perpetrators are and what their goal is.

SANA News which is linked to the Assad’s regime, said the cause was an electrical fault, while others stressed that the fire hit the neighbourhood was an arson, not just an incident.

Syrian journalist Ayman Mohammed, who is expert in Iran’s affairs, told “Elaf News” that: “the shops owners rejected generous offers of selling their shops they had received from the Iranian embassy, this also has been confirmed by Iran, because this ancient neighbourhood is located near the alleged holy shrine of Sayyida Roqaiyya. The goal is clearly to displace locals and to make demographic change in the old part of Damascus with Bashar al-Assad’s blessing.

Mohammed added: “What raises suspicions is that the frequent fire incidents occurred in Damascus only hid Sunni- dominant areas which Iran has planned to seize.”

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Deliberate Delays

The ancient al-Asroniyya Market which is located in the old part of Damascus caught the huge fire this morning and it lasted for several hours due to delays in tackling the fire by firefighters, this let the fire expand to burn more than 80 stores and shops, also part of its ancient area was destructed. Witnesses asserted that the firefighters were late more than 2 hours despite having received several calls about the fire.

Shopkeepers fear that this fire be a first step to get them out because they refused to sell their shops to the Iranian Embassy. Iran has bought many stores flanking Saiyyda Ruqaiya Mosque in order to extend the mosque.

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Al-Asroniyya Market is located in the middle of historic places. Tourists intend to visit old Damascus have to pass through the market’s alleys. Hamidiya market is bordering al-Asroniyya Market from the south, Kallaseh Street and al-Manakhliya Market from the north, Damascus Fort from the west and from the east there are Umayyad Mosque and Bab al-Barid which runs from Hamediyya to the junction of Dhahiriyya Library. The tourists who want to visit these places have to pass through al-Asroniyya Market.