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Aleppo / Nayrab-Aleppo

Syria's second largest city, with a greater metropolitan population of about 4 million, Aleppo is rapidly becoming the country's main center for private sector industrial development, especially in the area of textiles, food processing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, glass, and metal production. According to the Aleppo Chamber of Industry, the city boasts 29,250 industrial establishments, half of which are textile companies (two-thirds of Syria's textile industry is located in Aleppo). Other industries that have recently increased in importance are olive oil production and starch and glucose extraction from corn.

Aleppo lies in 36 11' 32" N. latitude, at a height of 1300 ft. above the sea-level. The climate is somewhat cold in winter, frost and snow being not uncommon. The heat of summer is tempered by cool westerly breezes. The old town stands on a number of small heights, surrounded by hills, and in the midst of the desert.

Aleppo of old was famous for its gardens, which extended nearly 12 miles in length, and were separated from each other by stone walls. Their beauty, like the size and importance of the city, was much exaggerated; yet, contrasting, as they do, with the general character of the surrounding scenery, they presented a striking and very agreeable picture to the eye of a European. There were 10 or 12 Christian churches, and 3 Christian convents; Aleppo being resorted to by the Christians, in preference to most other Mohammedan cities, on account of the greater toleration, and even urbanity, with which they are treated.

According to Arabian tradition, the town derives its name Halkb from the fact that Abraham after milking his cows here distributed the milk among the poor, who thereupon used to exclaim 'hal&b. halab!' (i. e. 'he has milked"). The epithet esh-shahbd. a word signifying the colour of a country which is parched from want of rain, is also absurdly associated with the same tradition, so that 'haleb eshfhahba' would signify he has milked the grey cow. A place of that name probably stood here before Bercea was founded on this site by Seleucus Nicator.

In AD 611 the Persian King Chosroes marched from Hierapolis (the modern El-Manhej) on the Euphrates against Bercea. Megas, Bishof of Beroea, was at tin: time in Antioch, and hastened to treat with Chosroes. The town was burned down, but the Beroeans succeeded in defending the citadel until Chosroes was induced by the bishop to withdraw. The town surrendered without resistance to the Arabs under Abu rUbeida, and Haleb now became a more important place in consequence of the destruction of the neighbouring Kinnesrin by the Arabs. Seif ed-Dauleh, the Hamdanide (936967), made Haleb his residence. In 961 the Byzantines under the Emperor Xicephorus obtained possession of the town for a short time but were unable to reduce toe citadel. Shortly after this came the troublous times of the Crusades. Under Prince Itidwan, who had wrested Haleb from the Assassin'* the town was compelled to pay tribute to the Prince of Antioch.

On October 11, 1138, a big earthquake occurred in Aleppo (with five aftershocks between 20 October and 3 November) and it killed 230,000 people. It was felt over a part of the eastern Mediterranean and was accompanied by a tsunami. The United States Geological Survey lists it as the fourth deadliest earthquake in history. It was also followed by two periods of intense earthquake activity in the region: October 1138 to June 1139 and September 1156 to May 1159.

In 1260 the Mongols under Hulagu destroyed the town and massacred most of its inhabitants. The castle was razed on that occasion. In 1280 Haleb was again sacked by the Mongols, but soon revived. Under the supremacy of the Mameluke sultans of Egypt, Haleb continued to be the capital of N. Syria. In 1400 the Syrians were defeateil by Timur near the city-gates, and the town itself was destroyed, a scene of bloodshed and plunder continuing for four days. The emirs who had gallantly defended the fortress surrendered, and, contrary to the stipulation, were put to death. There-erection of the fortifications was completed in 1427. In 1516 the Turkish Sultan Selim put an end to the Mameluke supremacy, and entered Haleb unopposed. The town then became the capital of a pashalic.

For its repeated recovery from its misfortunes Aleppo is chiefly indebted to its situation on the route of the caravan traffic to Persia and India, and it has long carried on a brisk trade in spices, linen, cloth, jewels, and other goods. The French and the Venetians possessed factories here at an early period. Towards the end of the 16th cent., during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the English also established a factory and a consul at Aleppo. The discovery of the sea-route to the E. Indies proved detrimental to the caravan-traffic, and at the same time to the prosperity of Aleppo, but several European firms continued to thrive. Among the most distinguished British residents in the 17th and 18th centuries were Maundrell and Russell. The Dutch also possessed a factory here.

Not less than 20,000 persons are said to have lost their lives, and as many more to have been bruised or maimed, in the earthquake of the 13th of August 1822. Numbers, besides, perished from subsequent exposure in the open fields, without shelter, and without sufficient food to sustain them. A large part of the city was reduced to a heap of ruins: and so it has remained; most of the surviving inhabitants, who were deprived of their homes, not having attempted to restore them, but having since contented themselves with comparatively mean accommodations, hastily prepared, in the outskirts of what may, without impropriety, be called the former city.

As a place of residence, it was undesirable, not merely on account of its liability to earthquakes, but also because of the degree in which it is subject to the devastations of the plague. This terrible disease heretofore severely visited Aleppo, at an average interval of ten years; and one of these visitations (that of 1797) is reported to have carried off 60,000 persons.

The climate, indeed, in other respects, is reputed to be salubrious to both natives and strangers; although the former are apt to be attacked, once at least in their lives, by a peculiar disease, known by the name of the ulcer, or ringworm, of Aleppo. It is at first an inflammation of the skin, subsequently becomes an ulcer, continues for a year, and generally leaves a scar for life. It usually fixes in the face; and an Aleppine was known, all over the East, by the mark left by this disorder, the cause of which was unknown, but suspected to be owing to some quality of the water.

Aleppo Intl / Nayrab-Aleppo
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Overview of the Aleppo Air Base, 22 April 1987

Close up of the Aleppo Air Base, 22 April 1987

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