Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Destruction of Qahira Castle and Monte Cassino Abbey

New photos of historic Qahira Castle ("Castle of the Conqueror") in Yemen under attack by Saudi-led coalition tactical aviation have been released, including recent photo at right depicting its destruction.  Photos of the attacks started being published the second week of May 2015. (Photo at left is Qahira Castle as it appeared before the war.)

Ta'izz, where the historic castle is situated, has been contested between Ansarullah and pro-Hadi forces. It is undetermined whether the site was struck for tactical reasons, such as Ansarullah using the position for observation purposes or artillery emplacement. Qahira Castle sits on a mountain spur 450 m (1,476 ft) above the city of Ta'izz. In a state of rubble, it is possible for the site to be occupied for military purposes. Rubble can actually afford advantages. It is also possible the intent of the Saudi-led attack on this UNESCO heritage site (as well as other heritage sites in Yemen) is to demoralize Ansarullah and their supportive civilian population.

Before and after photos of historic Monte Casino Abbey, which was destroyed by Allied bombers during World War II.

The Allied bombing mission in the morning of February 15, 1944 involved 142 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses heavy bombers followed by 47 North American B-25 Mitchell and 40 Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers. In all they dropped 1,150 tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs on the abbey, reducing the entire top of Monte Cassino to a smoking mass of rubble. Between bomb runs, the II Corps artillery pounded the mountain. Many Allied soldiers and war correspondents cheered as they observed the spectacle. [source: Wikipedia]

It is today generally acknowledged that the destruction of Monte Cassino Abbey was due to a military intelligence failure that mistakenly determined the commanding position was being utilized by opposing German forces for military purposes.

In case of the air bombardment of Monte Cassino Abbey, frustration by the attackers may have come into play. The first Battle of Cassino was a costly failure for the Allies, with the second battle involving the destruction of the Abbey.

In the Saudi-led war with Yemen, frustration may also be a contributing factor in the target selection of cultural sites. A decisive outcome has proven elusive, and with tactical renderings being of a mixed result and military fixed target lists being used up, it may well be this has driven Saudi-led coalition forces towards committing what are certainly regrettable acts of war.

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