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Geopolitics

Three Westerners Killed By Syrian Forces

AL ARABIYA, CNN (US), BBC NEWS (UK), REUTERS, AFP.

Worldcrunch

IDLIB – Three westerners, including an American woman and a British man, suspected of working with the opposition, have been killed by Syrian forces in the northwest of the country, AFP reported Friday.

The deaths occurred on Wednesday, though only confirmed Friday, Al Arabiya reports. “They were shot dead during an ambush in the Idlib region and the army found them with maps of military positions,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

“The three had apparently been taking photos of military positions on the road between Harim, near the border with Turkey, and the town of Idlib further south when government troops ambushed them”, he added.

One of the victims has been identified as Nicole Mansfield, a 33-year-old American citizen, who had converted to Islam about five years ago, her family told Reuters on Thursday. "Evidently, she was fighting with opposition forces,” said her aunt, Monica Mansfield Speelman.

The British citizen has not been identified yet, but the spokesman for the SOHR said that he was Muslim, and that he came from London, the BBC reports.

Obcokrajowcy zginęli w Syrii - Westerners killed in #Syria#assad@Wiadomosci_PRhttp://t.co/GJCgHrBQmCpic.twitter.com/X35wccdWQr

— Wojciech Cegielski (@wojciechce) May 31, 2013

The UK Foreign Office said it was aware of the claims and was trying to verify them, while the US is working through the Czech Republic mission in Syria to obtain more information, a State Department official told CNN, on condition of anonymity.

The nationality of the third victim has not been confirmed yet, but he or she was described as a Westerner on Syrian TV, CNN reports.

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Society

Tour Of Istanbul's Ancient Yedikule Gardens, At Risk With Urban Restoration

The six-hectare gardens in the center of Istanbul, which are more than 1,500 years old, have helped feed the city's residents over the centuries and are connected with its religious history. But current city management has a restoration project that could disrupt a unique urban ecosystem.

Photo of Muslims performing Friday prayer in the garden of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul.

Last March, Muslims performing Friday prayer in the garden of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul.

Tolga Ildun via ZUMA Press Wire
Canan Coşkun

ISTANBUL — The historic urban gardens of Yedikule in Istanbul are at risk of destruction once again. After damage in 2013 caused by the neighborhood municipality of Fatih, the gardens are now facing further disruption and possible damage as the greater Istanbul municipality plans more "restoration" work.

The six-hectare gardens are more than 1,500 years old, dating back to the city's Byzantine era. They were first farmed by Greeks and Albanians, then people from the northern city of Kastamonu, near the Black Sea. Now, a wide variety of seasonal produce grows in the garden, including herbs, varieties of lettuce and other greens, red turnip, green onion, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, pepper, corn, mullberry, fig and pomegranate.

Yedikule is unique among urban gardens around the world, says Cemal Kafadar, a historian and professor of Turkish Studies at Harvard University.

“There are (urban gardens) that are older than Istanbul gardens, such as those in Rome, but there is no other that has maintained continuity all this time with its techniques and specific craft," Kafadar says. "What makes Yedikule unique is that it still provides crops. You might have eaten (from these gardens) with or without knowing about it."

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