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Al-Qusayr makeshift cemetery in Homs
Al-Qusayr makeshift cemetery in Homs
Yazan al-Homsy*

HOMS — I still remember April 18, 2011, when it seemed all of Homs turned out for the funeral of 12 people. Tens of thousands of men and youths exited the grand mosque of Homs, the coffins held aloft amid the multitudes. The procession headed to al-Kateeb cemetery, one of the most revered burial grounds for Muslims in the city.

Twenty years ago, Homs residents were forbidden from burying their dead in al-Kateeb cemetery; it was running out of space and the final few places were reserved for only the most prominent sheikhs. They would be the lucky few accorded the honor of burial beside the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, who had been laid to rest in this very cemetery centuries earlier.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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