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Historic sites threatened by erosion and neglect say locals

The distinctive Romanesque arch of this historic bridge was once a link between the cities of Balad and Nisibin.

Today it is in danger of collapse after years of neglect.

The Abbasid bridge - which is known also as the Roman Bridge - was built by Mohammed al Jazri during the Abbasid Caliphate around 1215 A.D., explains Sufian al Saleem, a resident of Eski Mosul:

The structures is 22 meters long, 5 meters wide, 12 meters in height and a meter thick.

"It used to be composed of three archways. One on the right and one of the left, and they were connected with each other. Now, there is nothing left except this one behind me, in which is also at risk of collapse because of (erosion from) the rainwater and al Murr River," al Saleem says.

It was an important link on the Abbasid caravan road that connected Mosul to the neighboring cities in Turkey and Syria.

"It is a historical landmark and it used to be a bridge that was connecting the city of Balad to Nisibin, where caravans and armies used to pass on it before." explains Salim Dhanoun, a writer and poet from Eski Mosul.

The bridge is used now by sheep herders to cross the al Murr river.

It is located in near the village of Eski Mosul, which means the Old Mosul, some 40 kilometers northwest of Mosul, near the ancient town of Balad city, which was ruined in the fourteenth century.

The ruins of Balad city can be seen all around the area. There were some excavation efforts carried out by the Baghdad board for archaeology excavation in 1996, but they stopped due to instability in the country.

The ruins include a school, a mosque, and market areas in the old city. The designs were the cutting edge of architecture style for that time.

"There are just incredible techniques. They had very advanced techniques in cutting and shaping marbles at that time here," says Seid Abdulaziz, a local worker who participated in the excavation process in 1996.

Balad, or Balat in Assyrian language, means city. It was an ancient town that was built on the west bank of the Tigris River  

Abdulaziz and other locals want the authorities to conserve the bridge and Balad city ruins.

"We demand the government, the relevant parties, and the Ministry of Antiquities take care of this city. Because this city is a fortune, a treasure, and a civilized thing. It is the civilization of the whole country."

The ruins have survived for hundreds of years - but erosion might destroy them if they are not protected soon.

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