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Cats Tie the Knot in Damascus, 16 People Die in Regime-Besieged Ghouta

Cats Tie the Knot in Damascus, 16 People Die in Regime-Besieged Ghouta

Saturday, 23 December, 2017 - 09:30
People are seen during shelling in the town of Hamoria, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria. Image: REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Syrians were startled as a video recording showing two cats getting a faux wedding in a pro-regime checkpoint went viral.

Taking place in a regime-held Old Damascus, the video is in abhorrent contrast with the 16 starved to death in besieged eastern Ghouta who died a few miles away from where the wedding was taped.

Ironically, the two cats were put on display under a Syrian flag.

Most Old Damascus neighborhoods are overrun by pro-regime militias.

Mimicking a human-styled clerical ceremony, the two cats were brought forward to a crowd of witnesses and before a long table filled with assorted sweets.

Iran-allied militias are known to reign over Bab Touma alongside a number of neighborhoods of the old city such as Amara, Joura, Al Amine, Al Kalasa, the area surrounding the Umayyad Mosque.

Their Authority over any area is cemented with military checkpoints at the gates of each neighborhood.

A dowry of a kilogram of beef was agreed upon, along with a prenuptial settlement stating that ‘Beauty- Zayzouna’ (the cat bride) is entitled to 1.5 kg of chicken should a divorce take place in the future.

Dance, chants and traditional rites were put out on display as the two pets tied the knot.

After arriving in luxury white car, the cat bride was ushered by an 'arada' band – a traditional musical group that sings and conducts sword fights during weddings and other celebrations.

‘Meow’ was the main chant going sarcastically note to note with trumpets and a full-fledged military thrown into the spectacle.

Troops lined up on each side of the road, making way for the cat bride.

Dozens of comments flooded the Facebook page on which the video was posted—most of which shared feelings of surprise mixed with timid denunciation.

This came at a time when the battles continue to rip through a neighborhood east of Damascus near Bab Touma, in addition to a ravaged and besieged Gouta.

At least 16 people have died while waiting for medical evacuation from Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta region, the United Nations had reported.

Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria, said a list put together several months ago of nearly 500 civilians in desperate need of evacuation was rapidly shrinking.

"That number is going down, not because we are evacuating people, but because they are dying," he told reporters in Geneva.

"We have confirmation of 16 having died on these lists since they were resubmitted in November, and it is probably higher," he said, highlighting the case of a baby who died on December 14, as the latest round of Syria peace talks in Geneva ended in failure.

"I fear there will be many more. During this Christmas and holiday season, there will be more deaths unless we get evacuation going," he said.

The Eastern Ghouta region, near the Syrian capital Damascus, is one of the last strongholds of rebels fighting the forces of Bashar al-Assad.

Egeland said evacuations and efforts to bring aid into the region had been blocked by a lack of authorisations from the Syrian authorities.

"This has to end," he said.

"How can we take Christmas and holidays in safety and in peace... while the most innocent in this conflict... are dying?"

They are dying, he said, "not because there was not relief, not because there were not people willing to go there... but because they were part of a power play between mostly well-fed men with power and with guns."

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