There are no winners in war. Only victims. The following countries have been ravaged by the disasters of war for so long that the world seems to have forgotten their history, which did not tell stories of fatalities. At a point where war means more than just armed conflict, this is a reminder to look at the beautiful landscapes of  war-torn countries before bombs, guns, and shells started plaguing its population from within. By Shubhanjana Das

1. Syria

In the last two years when war has claimed over 130,000 lives in Syria, the rich culture, heritage, and landscapes of this country has been reduced to rubble. It is one of the oldest civilisations in the world, and is home to, not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites —  Damascus and Aleppo. However, all that remains of these two historical cities now is remnants of air-raids and shelling. Damascus has a history dating back to about 4,000 years, making it the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the whole world. As for Aleppo, it used to be a commercial hotbed since it was located at the juncture of many important trade routes including the Silk Route. It is also Syria’s most largely and densely populated city.

2. Iraq

Iraq’s continuous state of conflict since the 80’s has impaired the world’s vision of looking at it as a functional, ‘normal’ country. However, its history tells glorious tales of its amazingly modernist and progressive way of life. The breathtaking scenery and biological diversity here is also worth noting. The city of Basra in southern Iraq was once hailed as the Middle-Eastern Venice. The Kurds of Northern Iraq and the desert dwellers of the west carried their distinct cultures and way of life in the mesmerisingly unique landscapes of the region.

3. Afghanistan

Before the U.S. invasion, the Russian War, and the Marxist revolution, Afghanistan used to proudly display its astonishing architectural prowess, the traditional bazaars of Kabul and its scenic beauty. From snow-capped mountains with rolling greens on the sides, to miles and miles of brown towering peaks as far as the eyes go, Afghanistan’s vast landscape, rocky as it is, makes you feel like a speck of dust. Different regions had different traditions with indigenous population, each united by nationhood.

4. Yemen

Yemen might be the poorest country in the Middle East, but it is also the heart of centuries old civilisation, history, and one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Yemen was also referred to as Arabia Felix or ‘Happy Arabia’ by the Romans. It even has links with India that few know about. Referred to as ‘Frankincense Country’ in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Yemen’s cities provided links between the Mediterranean and the Indian ports of Muziris on Kerala’s coast and Barygaza (now Bharuch) in Gujarat. The Eastern Yemeni region of Hadhramaut sheltered caravan towns. It is believed that it was once the world’s oldest skyscraper cities. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shibam is one of the most promising examples of this construction. The Socotra archipelago holds key to one of the least explored landscapes in the world. It is also home to the Dragon Blood Tree, almost visually synonymous with Socotra.

Related: Iraq Unearths Age-Old Palace From A Drought-Hit Reservoir