BELGRADE: The Fortress

Belgrade – VIJAY SHAH via TARA GOLDSMITH and ReadyClickAndGo

While the capital of Serbia is not the first place that comes to mind for many when they think of a holiday destination with culture, history and impressive sights, Belgrade is in some ways an undiscovered treasure for those looking for something a bit different, but still ticking all the boxes.

Belgrade, known to its residents as ‘Beograd’, has an ancient history of settlement dating back to the Roman Empire. It was ravaged by the hordes of the Huns, and became an outpost of the Turkish Ottoman empire. In latter years, it was the capital of the Communist union of Yugoslavia, and saw much fighting, bloodshed and bombing during the collapse of that country in the early 1990s. By the end of the decade, Belgrade was bombed by NATO forces during the independence war of Kosovo. After all that mayhem, Belgrade has reinvented itself as a hip city of fashion, art and music that attracts young European things like wasps to honey.

Even with the modernisation and revamping characteristic of Belgrade now, the city has not let go of its history. Of particular importance is what is called by English-speaking tourists the Fortress. Located on the right bank of the Sava river which cuts through the city, the Fortress is chunky, stony and covers a great area of land, an inspiring monolith of masonry. The complex is said to be the final resting place of the great marauder and general Attila the Hun and was once the greatest military fortification in all of Europe.

The Fortress predates the Hun though. It was built in fact by the Romans who needed a strong fortification on the eastern fringes of their expansive empire to protect against tribes looking to overrun the territory. It was at first a Roman military camp and the largest structure in Belgrade’s ancestor, known in Latin as ‘Singidunum’.

 

After repeated incursions, the Ottoman forces overran Belgrade in 1521. Impressed by the magnitude of Belgrade’s Fortress, the Turks rechristened it Kalemegdan (or in modern Turkish “Kalemeydan”, (kale – city and megdan – field) and added two structures, the first being the fountain of Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, the other the tomb of Damad Ali Pasha.

Over the years, the fortress became a hot potato, constantly passing between the rule of the Turks and the Austrians. The Austrians also added some cosmetic changes to the Fortress, mainly to its outer wall. The Turks were said to have preferred the local white rock (that is said to have given Belgrade its name) for their renovations, while the Austrians opted for traditional red brick. 

From being a military showpiece contested by regional powers, the Fortress wound up with a less dignified role centuries later. As Yugoslavia dwindled in size in the 1990s, local entrepreneurs turned the Fortress into a nightclub, playing probably house music inside a castle, you could say. Eventually the city government renegotiated the terms of use, and the Fortress was reborn as a local tourist icon and a museum.

The Fortress is split into four parts linked together via eighteen gates in total. The Fortress is large enough that it is considered as two phases, the Upper and Lower Towns, which are home to Orthodox churches, a planetarium, an apparently claustrophobic World War II bunker, and various monuments and museums.

Highlights available to visit today at the Fortress of Belgrade include a collection of Roman sarcophagi, gravestones and Christian church alters brought in from all of Serbia, the National Museum’s Collection of Stone Monuments. The Roman Well (which was actually built by the Austrians with their usual red bricks) was built for water supplies for troops, can be visited for a fee. There is also a clock tower and the 500-year-old Nebojsa Tower, built for the unsuccessful defence strategy against the Ottomans. Indeed the Fortress is essentially a combination of monuments of historical importance, museums, places of interest, religious buildings and parks, mostly with free entry and reasonable opening times. The fortress is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

SOURCES:

Listed@DrStephanieLang, Dr. Stephanie Lang, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DrStephanieLang/lists/listed-drstephanielang

First Night Design, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/FirstNightArt

TaraGoldsmith, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Best_of_Tara

“BELGRADE FORTRESS” – Tara Goldsmith, ReadyClickAndGo Private Day Trips/ReadyClickAndGo (26 June 2015) https://www.readyclickandgo.com/blog/belgrade-fortress/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Belgrade Fortress, once one of the most powerful military strongholds of Europe” – Jorge Láscar, Flickr (20 August 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlascar/13810353553

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GHOUTA CHEMICAL STRIKE: Dozens of innocent Syrians feared dead

Douma – VIJAY SHAH via TOM ACRES and Sky News

In an escalation of the Syrian crisis where government troops allied with the country’s president, Bashar Al-Assad, are fighting rebels in the Ghouta area east of Damascus, a report has come in stating that around 70 people have been killed in a chemical bomb attack blamed on the Syrian army.

In what UK media firm Sky News has dubbed ‘one of (the) worst chemical strikes in Syrian history’, dozens of people, many believed to be women and children, were said to have died in Ghouta, a rebel-controlled district on the outskirts of capital Damascus, where a months-long siege between rebel and government forces has caused immense hardship for thousands of residents. Around five hundred people have been reported injured, according to Sky.

 

The United States has called on Russia, which is supporting President Al-Assad, to cease its support after the Ghouta chemical atrocity. The U.S. State Department said it was keeping tabs on the ‘grossly disturbing’ situation, which occurred in a city named Douma, around 10 km (6 miles) north-east of Damascus city centre. Babies and small children were among those caught up in the attack, according to video footage provided by Sky News. Children were seen in great distress, some clutching gas masks. A volunteer rescue service, called White Helmets in English, an opponent of the government, said it found dead children with frothing saliva around their mouths

The Syrian government has denied carrying out a chemical attack in Douma, but has been accused of using chemical weapons on civilian populations in previous skirmishes with the numerous rebel groups active in the Middle Eastern country. In April 2017, more than 80 people were killed in another suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which was also said to have been carried out by the Syrian government army. According to US intelligence, Al-Assad’s army is said to have stockpiles of the highly lethal gas agent, sarin, and possibly mustard gas.

“The United States continues to use all efforts available to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable,” the State Department said in a statement, which referenced the alleged sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun last year.

“The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable and any further attacks prevented immediately.

“Russia, with its unwavering support for the regime, ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks, targeting of countless civilians, and the suffocation of Syria’s most vulnerable communities with chemical weapons.”

Britain called for an “urgent investigation” into the alleged use of illegal weapons and an immediate end to the bloodshed.

“These are very concerning reports of a chemical weapons attack with significant number of casualties, which if correct, are further proof of Assad’s brutality against innocent civilians and his backers’ callous disregard for international norms,” the country’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

“An urgent investigation is needed and the international community must respond. We call on the Assad regime and its backers, Russia and Iran, to stop the violence against innocent civilians.”

In addition to the denial of responsibility by the official Syrian government, state-owned media outlets there have claimed that reports of the chemical attacks were propaganda, fabricated by rebels who they claim are close to defeat. Most of the Ghouta area is now back under government control, with only Douma city itself still under the control of the rebel group called  Jaish al Islam.

SOURCES:

Shere Singh via Facebook.

“Dozens dead in ‘one of worst chemical strikes in Syrian history’ ” – Tom Acres, Sky News/Sky UK (8 April 2018) https://news.sky.com/story/at-least-70-dead-in-chemical-attack-by-syrian-regime-in-eastern-ghouta-says-rescue-group-11322143

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Syria – Damascus Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical Attack.jpg” – whitehouse.gov and Elissa Rubria Honoria, Wikimedia Commons (3 September 2013) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syria_-_Damascus_Areas_of_Influence_and_Areas_Reportedly_Affected_by_21_August_Chemical_Attack.jpg

SYRIA CONFLICT: Israeli fighter jet shot down in large-scale assault

Damascus – VIJAY SHAH via JUDITH VONBERG and The Independent

A fighter jet belonging to the Israeli air force participating in air strikes in Syria has reportedly been shot down while taking part in large scale anti-drone attacks against weaponry allegedly supplied by Iran, the UK’s Independent newspaper reported earlier today.

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) plane was part of a bombing raid on Iranian and Syrian-operated targets on Syrian soil including an aerial defence system. According to the Independent, the raid targeted twelve such targets, and the IDF reported that one of the F-16 bombers was knocked out, severely injuring the pilot. The crash took place in the north of Israel, close to the border with Syria. The pilot has been taken to hospital, according to armed forces sources.

 

Israel is said to have been plagued recently by drones operated by Iran crossing into its airspace. A drone was shot down early this morning and was seized by the Israeli military, which then authorised retaliatory raids on locations in southern Syria and just outside the capital Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war watchdog based in London, UK.

One raid attacked a base in the south of Syria said to be used by forces allied with the country’s president Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which is claimed receives funding and training from Iran’s government. Several soldiers and militants among the Syrians and Lebanese are reported to be among the casualties, although no toll has been published yet.

Syria is currently riveted by a multi-party civil war between various rebel groups and the official government of the Assad administration, with the UK, US, Israel, Russia and Iran also involved in the conflict on either side. Islamic State (Daesh) and Al Qaeda, two notorious Islamist groups have also inserted themselves into the calamity. 400,000 people have been killed so far in the civil war (up to April 2016), according to the United Nations, and hundred of thousands of refugees have fled Syria to escape the battles and bombings of civilian areas.

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Israeli fighter jet shot down during large attack against targets in Syria” – Judith Vonberg, The Independent (10 February 2018) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-jet-shot-down-syria-large-scale-attack-aerial-defence-system-israeli-defence-force-a8203956.html?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook

IMAGE CREDIT:

“F-16 Fighting Falcon” – U.S. Air Force (23 September 2015) http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/104505/f-16-fighting-falcon/

 

 

WHO – Issues statement demanding unlimited aid access to Syrian crisis victims

Cairo – VIJAY SHAH

The Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO), a subdivision of the World Health Organization has released a statement calling for unimpeded and immediate access to civilians affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.

The statement, prepared in Cairo, Egypt and released today, expressed concerns for trapped victims of the war currently stranded in the eastern Ghouta district just outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, where there has been intense fighting between the army of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and various rebel groups. 

 

EMRO believes that up to 400,000 people are trapped in two locales in the Ghouta district, Kafr Batna and Saqba, which are currently under siege. The stalemate has made it very difficult for the WHO and aid agencies such as the Syrian Red Crescent to access the area to treat survivors and airlift the critically injured to hospitals in safer parts of Damascus and the city of Idlib. The trapped are experiencing dangerous levels of malnutrition, health and security levels, and supplies of food and medicine are fast running out. Diseases associated with poor health and overcrowding, including brucellosis, hepatitis A and tuberculosis have become highly prevalent. One resident is said to have died from kidney failure after drinking filthy water out of desperation.

The office also warns that many of the children in Ghouta are severely malnourished with nearly thirty needing rapid emergency airlifts but unable to leave due to the Syrian government allegedly refusing complete access to aid workers. Heavy bombardment of many parts of Syria’s capital and streams of refugees fleeing Damascus and indeed the country, altogether, have made bringing in help for those left behind dangerous and logistically difficult for aid workers trying to help the wounded and sick.

WHO officials have managed to penetrate only parts of the area of rural Damascus under siege, and successfully delivered around five tonnes of health supplies, enough for 35,000 medical procedures. The Red Crescent also brought in food and health supplies in the aid dropoff, which occurred on the 30th of October.

WHO representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff said in the statement concerning the crisis in Ghouta district: “The situation is heartbreaking’

“For months, the people of eastern Ghouta have been subjected to sustained deprivation, restrictions on humanitarian access and serious human rights violations. We have now reached a critical point, where the lives of hundreds of people, including many children, are at stake. If they do not immediately get the medical care they urgently need, they will most likely die.”

The WHO is demanding complete and unimpeded access to Ghouta, and calls on all parties in the conflict to cease attacks on innocent civilians, enable the evacuation of wounded civilians, especially the young, and give safe passage to medical teams and supplies.

SOURCES:

HEM Businesses, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-businesses

OCHA Syria, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/OCHA_Syria

WHO, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/WHO

“WHO calls for immediate and unimpeded access to save lives in eastern Ghouta, Syrian Arab Republic” – World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (12 November 2017) http://www.emro.who.int/syr/syria-news/who-calls-for-immediate-and-unimpeded-access-to-save-lives-in-eastern-ghouta-syrian-arab-republic.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free Syrian Army rebel trying to save his friend’s life.” – Freedom House, Flickr (23 November 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/8212025254

 

AFGHANISTAN ROADSIDE BOMB: Official states 2 dead in terror attacks

Herat – VIJAY SHAH via Associated Press and Fox News

Two people are confirmed dead after a number of bombs exploded in roads in the Herat province of Afghanistan, according to statements by an Afghan official and reported in Fox News via the Associated Press agency today. Another bomb was also detonated at a market several miles from Kabul, the capital, as well today.

 

One of the victims is believed to have been a local police officer, killed by the blasts in the western part of Herat. Gelani Farhad, a spokesperson for the provincial government, said that one bomb triggered by a moving police vehicle in the Adraskan district, also injured another police officer. Farhad also stated that a second device in Shindand district blew up a motorcycle, killing one ordinary citizen and injuring another.

In Kapisa province, close to the Afghan capital Kabul and the US military encampment in Bagram, a bomb attached to a bicycle exploded at a bazaar, injuring nine shoppers, all civilians. Two young children were among the casualties, one of them critically, according to Qais Qaderi, a spokesperson for that province’s governor.

No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the blasts in Herat and Kapisa provinces. However the Taliban, who governed Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were overthrown by an US allied invasion after the September 11 attacks in the United States, have long maintained a lethal campaign of stationary and suicide bomb attacks against both US/NATO and Afghan forces as well as civilians. Al Qaeda, Daesh and various warlords and militant groups are also highly active in Afghanistan.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Chris 🇺🇸‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Chris_1791

“Afghan official: 2 people killed by roadside bombs” – Associated Press via FOX News/FOX News Network, LLC (30 September 2017) http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/09/30/afghan-official-2-people-killed-by-roadside-bombs.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Car Passing on Highway in Herat.jpg” – koldo hormaza, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (13 September 2005) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Car_Passing_on_Highway_in_Herat.jpg

FIGHTBACK AGAINST DAESH: Syrian forces take back large areas of Manbij

Manbij, SYRIA
VIJAY SHAH via The Jerusalem Post & Reuters

 

In breaking news, the Israeli English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post reports via the Reuters news agency that Syrian forces, with backing from the American military have succeeded in taking back forty per cent of the city of Manbij, which was previously part of the self-declared ‘caliphate’ of Daesh (so-called Islamic State). The city lies in the Aleppo governorate, thirty miles from the Euphrates river in north Syria, and is around 40-50 kilometres from the Turkish border.

Manbij had witnessed heavy fighting and casualties in the past few months as the Syrian Democratic Army and other forces had tried to retake it, with the help of US Special Forces. New advances by the Syrian forces have meant non-Daesh fighters now control just under half of Manbij’s terrirtory.

The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one-man observation post for activities inside Syria, said that soldiers from the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), with help from controversial US air strikes, had succeeded in wresting back control of the eastern flank of Manbij, after making some slow advances in the western part. The US is also working with local Kurdish peshmerga and Arab allies in moping up the heavy resistance of Daesh. The alliance formed last year and since then has engaged in a campaign for the past two months aimed at driving out Daesh from its territories straddling the Syrian-Turkish frontier. The Daesh’s proximity to the Turkish border has been a headache for the country, with Daesh militants crossing it to perpetrate bombings on Turkish soil and border villages and towns regularly hit by the group’s artillery.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Chris., Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Chris_1791
“Report: US-backed forces now control 40 percent of IS-held city of Manbij” – Reuters via The Jerusalem Post – Breaking News/Jpost Inc. (31 July 2016) http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Report-US-backed-forces-now-control-40-percent-of-IS-held-city-of-Manbij-462818
IMAGE CREDIT:
“A street view of Manbij city” – Jacky Lee, Panoramio via Wikipedia (22 September 2005) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manbij#/media/File:A_street_view_of_manbij_city_-_panoramio.jpg [CC BY 3.0]

SULLEE J: Bad Habits

 

Accomplished Baltimore rapper Sullee J returns with a new single as he recently announced his new signing with Bogish Brand Ent. in the United States. This new track is entitled ‘Bad Habits’ and sees Sullee J pay homage to his Pakistani heritage by dropping a bilingual flow in English and Urdu, the national langauge of Pakistan, of which Sullee is a fluent speaker.

Bad Habits, also called ‘Old Habits’, or in Urdu ‘Jiyu Kaise’ speaks on the battles between culture and politics. Produced by AnnoDominiBeats, the music video starts off with the sights of the once-glorious city of Detroit, the erstwhile ‘Motor City‘ of the Americas. Sullee J appears near some cool street art and immediately drops some Urdu lyrics with his unmistakable delivery and raw emotion, before moving onto English. It is a powerful song, which speaks of the bad and good of human society and the struggle of existence in an international theatre of hate and war, interspersed with video and news footage of the tragedies unfolding in the Middle East, some of which is raw and unsettling for some viewers. 

Some words extracted from the hook which Sullee J has translated especially are “How can I live like this? am I also suppose to break hearts, or help join them? Everywhere I look, it always seems corrupt, it feels like this whole life is a game, and people will do whatever to win in it, How can I live like this?”

Bad Habits is now out on YouTube and you can download the MP3 version on SoundCloud.

 

 

officialsulleej.com

Twitter: @SulleeJ85

Instagram: @SulleeJ

 

SOURCE:
Team Justice.
IMAGE CREDIT:
SulleeJustice, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/sulleej85

NAGORNO KARABAKH: 30 killed in Armenia-Azerbaijan border clash

Baku, AZERBAIJAN
VIJAY SHAH via ASSOCIATED PRESS & MASHABLE

At least 30 people have been reported killed in a border clash between bitter enemies and Caucasus neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, Mashable UK reported today.

Heavy fighting over the landlocked region, which lies in the south Caucasus between Lower Karabakh and Zangezur, and which is governed autonomously by Armenia and claimed by Azerbaijan, erupted this Saturday. Most of the deaths were military, but one boy was also reported killed.

Location of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Location of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nagorno Karabakh was the scene of a devastating war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which began shortly after the two countries separated from the USSR in the early 1990s. That war ended in 1994, but minor clashes between the Armenian and Azeri armies as well as strong nationalist rhetoric from both sides over Nagorno still continues.

Both sides held each other accountable for the Saturday incident. The Azerbaijani defence ministry did release a statement on the battle, where it claimed 12 of its soldiers were ‘martyred’ and that the Azeri army also killed 100 Armenian forces, destroyed six tanks and 15 artillery positions, meanwhile losing one helicopter, however this has not been confirmed by outside observers.

President of ArmeniaSerzh Sargsyan, is said to have informed the Armenian national security council that 18 Armenian soldiers were killed and 35 wounded. Armenia in turn, disputed Azerbaijani claims over its death toll from Saturday’s clashes, sating earlier that it had inflicted ‘heavy damage’ on Azerbaijani forces, while the Nagorno Karabakh defence ministry stated that 200 Azeri soldiers had died. No official outside confirmation of any of these figures has come though yet.

The Armenian defence ministry also said that Azerbaijan attempted to invade the territory with aircraft, tanks and munitions and that “Azerbaijani authorities bear all responsibility for the unprecedentedly supercharged situation.”

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry meanwhile claimed that the fighting this weekend began when Armenian forces fired heavy shells and mortars across the front line, provoking the Azeris. Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargyakhly told The Associated Press that more than 120 shots were fired, some of which hit civilian residential areas.

“This is the most wide-scale military action that Azerbaijan has tried to carry out since the establishment of the 1994 cease-fire regime,” Sargsyan said.

David Babayan, a spokesperson for the President’s office in Nagorno Karabakh, stated that one child was killed and two injured after a Azerbaijani military unit set off a barrage of Grad missiles in the disputed region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has been accused of meddling in the conflict urged all sides to cease firing and “show restraint,” Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. Russia’s foreign and defense ministers contacted their Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts in hopes of calming the conflict, the ministries said.

“The situation along the entire length of the line of opposition between Karabakhi and Azerbaijani armed forces continues to be extremely difficult,” Armenian defense ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan told The Associated Press.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement saying that the United States “condemns in the strongest terms the large scale ceasefire violations” along the Nagorno-Karabakh buffer zone, which separates the warring parties.

“We urge the sides to show restraint, avoid further escalation, and strictly adhere to the ceasefire,” Kerry said.

The Nagorno Karabakh area is technically under a ceasefire brokered by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and major world powers. There are now worries among observers that this weekend’s clash could unravel efforts to keep the peace in the Caucasus.

SOURCES:
Google News https://news.google.co.uk/
“At least 30 killed after clash between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces” – Associated Press via Mashable UK – News (3 April 2016) http://mashable.com/2016/04/03/armenian-azerbaijani-forces-clash/#LYgq6YM2rqq6
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Location Nagorno-Karabakh en.png” – VartanM. & Kmusser., Wikimedia Commons (1 May 2006) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Location_Nagorno-Karabakh_en.png

EDITH MUNRO: Newham pays respects to WWI nurse

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via The Newham Mag, KAY ATWAL, IAIN BURNS, Newham Recorder and contributors.

 

Military veterans and members of the Jewish community paid their respects this month to a Newham, east London nurse who gave her life in active service for the country at a special memorial service this past week, council magazine The Newham Mag reports.

The nurse, Edith Hilda Munro, was born in a well-off household in Hackney, the daughter of Scottish engineer John Munro, and local Leah Nathan, and had three brothers and sisters. She first began her illustrious career in the Albert Dock Seaman’s Hospital of Custom House, in the south of the London borough, before finding work with the Voluntary Aid Detachment shortly after it was founded in 1909, a group which sent nurses to treat the injured in war zones. Upon the outbreak of World War I, Munro tended to soldiers injured in the battlefields of Europe.

First World War recruitment poster for the Vol...
First World War recruitment poster for the Voluntary Aid Detachment . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tragically, Munro contracted acute bronchopneumonia, a dangerous lung disease. She then developed heart failure and passed away at the tender age of 23, on the 12th December, 1916. She was then buried by family in East Ham. Sadly she was not regarded as a casualty of war and her grave, in East Ham’s Plashet Jewish Cemetery, laid undiscovered until a research team led by Harold Pollins and Martin Sugarman, with the involvement of AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women) discovered her details and began to piece together Edith’s story.

Her gravestone was eventually reconsecrated and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave Edith her long awaited and deserved recognition as a war casualty.

The special stone-setting ceremony at the ancient Plashet cemetery was officiated over by Rabbi  Livingstone, senior Jewish chaplain to the Armed Forces. Also in attendance were Newham politicians, members of London’s Jewish community and representatives of St. John’s Ambulance. Also paying their respects were three distant descendants of Edith Munro.

Wreaths of poppies, a symbol of the World Wars, were laid at Munro’s grave while the military theme The Last Post was played. Local historian Stan Kaye, who also contributed to the research team’s efforts, said “It was a very emotional service,”

“I kept thinking what it must have been like 100 years ago when she was buried in this cemetery – cold, and in the middle of the war.”

Newham Council‘s chair and civic lead, Cllr. Joy Laguda, herself a former nurse, who attended the reconsecration ceremony and laid a wreath on behalf of the council, commented: “The stone is a lasting legacy to Edith’s valour”

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was founded in 1909 by the UK armed forces alongisde St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross. The VAD nurses, virtually all women, treated battlefield injuries and became renowned and respected for their courage under fire. Many were killed in action from bombing or contracting infections. Hundreds were killed in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and relatives of VAD nurses who died in the call of duty have long struggled to get their contributions to the war effort properly recognised.

Edith Hilda Munro

Birth:  unknown
Death:  Dec. 12, 1916
West Ham
Greater London, England

She was a VAD nurse, died aged 23.Deaths Dec 1916 Munro Edith H 23 W.Ham 4a 173
 
 
Burial:
Plashet Jewish Cemetery
East Ham
London Borough of Newham
Greater London, England
Plot: plot M.24.35
SOURCES:
“Brave nurse is saluted” – The Newham Mag, Newham Council [Issue 337] (8 April 2016)
“Nurse buried in East Ham was ‘war casualty’ ” – Kay Atwal, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (14 April 2012) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/nurse_buried_in_east_ham_was_war_casualty_1_1348254
“Silvertown war nurse remembered century after dying aged 23” – Iain Burns, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (20 March 2016) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/silvertown_war_nurse_remembered_century_after_dying_aged_23_1_4458309
“Edith Hilda Munro” – Geoffrey Gillon & Stanley Kaye, Find A Grave (25 July 2013) http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114347036
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:VAD poster.jpg” – Voluntary Aid Detachment & Lumos3, Wikimedia Commons (13 June 2008) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VAD_poster.jpg

KUNDUZ TAKEBACK: Afghan hospital hit by US strike, three killed

Kunduz/Kabul, AFGHANISTAN
VIJAY SHAH via Financial Times/Reuters

As the Afghan armed forces seek to retake the northern city of Kunduz after a surprise invasion by the Taliban earlier this week, reports have come in of a possibly misplaced American air strike on a hospital, killing three people, the UK’s Financial Times and news agency Reuters have claimed.

The US military, currently working alongside Afghan forces to hold back the Taliban, once Afghanistan’s rulers before the 9/11 attack, had acknowledged today that it may have been responsible for the attack on the hospital facility, which is managed by international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The casualty estimate at the moment stands at three dead and another thirty missing, possibly more.

English: Afghan soldiers holding position duri...
English: Afghan soldiers holding position during a joint operation in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan conducted by USSOF, Afghan Nationa Army and German PRT infantry forces. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a statement released by US colonel Brian Tribus, the US sorties were sent in around 2.15 am local time as the Taliban were engaged in street fighting with the Afghan national army following their biggest surprise victory in the last fourteen years. Hundreds of Taliban fighters swarmed into Kunduz, completely catching the local provincial government by surprise. 

In the statement, Col. Tribus also said: “The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” he added. “This incident is under investigation.”

Eyewitness reports of the damage to the hospital state that one wall of the main building has been completely obliterated, leaving behind debris including shattered wooden door frames and broken glass from the hospital’s windows. Three of the facility rooms are also said to be on fire, according to Saad Mukhtar, director of public health in Kunduz.

Mukhtar was one of those who witnessed the damage from the strike. In a visit to the MSF building, the director said: “Thick black smoke could be seen rising from some of the rooms,”

“The fighting is still going on, so we had to leave.”

Due to the ongoing fighting, MSF have not been able to take a complete note of casualties or to assess structural damage. At the time of the strike, there were believed to be around 200 patients and staff present in the Kunduz hospital. It is the only hospital in the Kunduz Province, which borders Tajikistan, equipped to deal with major injuries.

“We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” the aid group’s operations director, Bart Janssens, said.

MSF staff members are currently battling to not only treat existing patients, but also those injured in the strike.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told Reuters that US air strikes had targeted the hospital, killing patients, doctors and nurses. He denied allegations that Taliban militants were being treated at the hospital, which might have made it a target for US drones trying to pick off Taliban leadership figures.

The hospital’s chief, Dr Masood Nasim, said the hospital was under increasing strain and risk as the battle frontline reached it this week, with gunfights taking place just outside its gates. Medical staff reported hearing all manners of ammunition, such as shelling, rockets, and fighter jets passing overhead, Nasim claimed. Staff even discovered stray bullets coming through the roof of its intensive care unit.

MSF have said they have so far treated almost 400 patients at the Kunduz hospital since fighting broke out six days ago. Most of the people rushed to the 150-bed facility were victims of gunshot wounds sustained in the fighting, although it did not state if they were civilians or military personnel of whatever side. The hospital had been struggling to cope the massive influx, with many new patients being forced to recuperate on mattresses laid on floors or in the hospital’s offices.

There is no word on who ordered the strike on the Kunduz hospital, or whether it was deliberately targetted in hit in error.

 

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
GustavoSBR, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/GustavoSBR
“Three dead at Afghan hospital after US air strike” – Reuters via Financial Times/ft.com – World – Asia-Pacific/The Financial Times Ltd. (3 October 2015) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0aa6a070-69b1-11e5-8171-ba1968cf791a.html?ftcamp=published_links/rss/home_europe/feed//product#axzz3nV1Mffqp
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Joint US-Afghan-German operation in Kunduz Province.jpg” – ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office/Flickr, Wikimedia Commons (4 November 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joint_US-Afghan-German_operation_in_Kunduz_Province.jpg