Homs was once the centre of the Syrian revolution. Today, 12 years on, much of the city remains scarred and deserted after years of siege and heavy bombardment.
In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we speak to an architecture researcher from Homs about what the deliberate destruction of homes and neighbourhoods, known as domicide, does to people displaced by conflict.
Ammar Azzouz has fond memories of growing up in Homs. “It was quiet and peaceful. It was called the city of the poor because people from all backgrounds and social income felt that they could belong. People were very kind and warm and generous,” he remembers.
But in 2011, when uprisings began against the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Homs became a central point of protest – and crackdowns by government forces.
For that opposing position to the government, the city has paid a very huge price in terms of being targeted many times. The strategy used by the Syrian government during these early years of the revolution was to siege different neighbourhoods in Homs and to try to control these neighbourhoods.
He says that 12 years later, the city has been transformed. Over 50% of the neighbourhoods have been heavily destroyed and over a quarter partially destroyed.
Azzouz fled Homs in late 2011, but has continued to research and chronicle what’s happened to his city ever since. He describes what happened in Homs as domicide – the deliberate destruction of home. He uses the word home to refer not just to the tangible built environment of people’s homes and properties, “the architecture of the everyday” as he puts it, but also to people’s sense of belonging and identity.
Azzouz says that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 is a form of domicide. Watching the destruction of whole residential blocks in Gaza and the mass displacement of Palestinians from their homes has been very difficult for him. “It’s absolutely domicidal. It’s deliberate targeting of people’s homes, killing of civilian people, killing of their everyday life and mass destruction of neighbourhoods,” he says.
Listen to the full interview on The Conversation Weekly podcast. A full transcript will be available soon.
This episode was written and produced by Mend Mariwany and Gemma Ware. Eloise Stevens does our sound design, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Gemma Ware is the executive producer of the show.