Photos Of Aleppo Rising: Swimsuits, Concerts And Rebuilding In First Jihadi-Free Summer

Tyler Durden's picture

When taxi and bus drivers take journalists into Syria via the Beirut-Damascus Highway these days, there's a common greeting that has become a kind of local tradition as the drivers pull into their Damascus area destinations. They confidently tell their passengers: "welcome to the real Syria." Local Syrians living in government areas are all too aware of how the outside world perceives the government and the cities under its control. After years of often deceptive imagery and footage produced by opposition fighters coordinating with an eager Western press bent on vilifying Assad as "worse than Hitler", many average Syrian citizens increasingly take to social media to post images and scenes of Syria that present a different vision: they see their war-torn land as fundamentally secular, religiously plural, socially tolerant, and slowly returning to normalcy under stabilizing government institutions.

As the most intense phase of fighting in Aleppo was unfolding in 2016, veteran journalist Stephen Kinzer took to the editorial pages of the Boston Globe to remind Americans that the media has created a fantasy land concerning Syria. Kinzer painted a picture quite opposite the common perception:

Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press... For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it...


The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story.

Now, during the first summer of relative calm Aleppo residents have seen in over four years of grinding conflict, the city commonly referred as "the jewel of Syria" is once again rising from the ashes. Foreign journalists are also accessing places like East Aleppo and the heart of the walled 'old city' for the first time. Some few honest correspondents, unable to deny the local population's spirit of hopefulness and zeal with which they undertake rebuilding projects, acknowledge that stability and normalcy have returned only after the last jihadists were expelled by the Syrian government and its allies.

Aleppo orchestra concert, Summer 2017/via Sarah Abdallah

A Western press and political class which generally mourned the liberation of the city from al-Qaeda groups like Nusra (AQ in Syria), calling government actions a 'massacre' and 'genocide', now finds a reality that can't be ignored or denied: Aleppines are returning to ravaged parts of the city to rebuild, they are enjoying nightlife, going to music concerts, staying out late at cafes; families are swimming at local pools, women are strolling around in t-shirts and jeans free of the oppressive Wahhabi fighters that once ruled parts of the city.

Kinzer's Boston Globe piece further concluded that the entire web of assumptions on Syria woven by the media and fed to the public over the years were "appallingly distant from reality" and warned that these lies are "likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death." As new photos continue to emerge of the real Aleppo and the real Syria it is essential to revisit the most destructive among the lies that have helped serve to prolong this tragic and brutal war.

Aleppines didn't want to live under Wahhabi Islamist rule

Andalusia Swimming Pool in Aleppo, Summer 2017/via Syria Daily

According to multiple eyewitness reports and studies, the story of how war entered Aleppo's environs was not primarily one of mass public protests and government crackdown, but of an aggressive jihadist insurgency that erupted suddenly and fueled from outside the city. According to then Indian ambassador to Syria, V.P. Haran (Amb. to Syria from 2009 to 2012), Aleppo on the whole was unwillingly dragged into the war after remaining silent and stable while other cities raged. In an interview which detailed his own on-the-ground experience of the opening years of war in Syria, the ambassador said:

Soon parts of Latakia, Homs and Hama were chaotic but Aleppo remained calm and this troubled the opposition greatly. The opposition couldn’t get the people in Aleppo to rise up against the regime so they sent bus loads of people to Aleppo. These people would burn something on the streets and leave. Journalists would then broadcast this saying Aleppo had risen.

Why did it take until July 2012 - well over a year since conflict in Syria began - for Aleppo to see any fighting? Why did residents not "rise up" against the government?

The answer is simple. The majority of Syrians, whether Sunni, Shia, Alawi, Christian, Kurd, or Ismaili, are sane individuals – they’ve seen what life is like under the “alternative” rebel rule marked by sharia courts, smoke and alcohol bans, public floggings, street executions, desecration of churches, and religious and ethnic cleansing of minorities. They recognize that there is a real Syrian national identity, and it goes beyond mere loyalty to the current ruling clique that happens to be in power, but in Syria as a pluralistic Levantine society that rejects Saudi style theocracy.

Rebuilding Aleppo, Summer 2017. Latin Parish of St. Francis/via Sarah Abdallah

The kind of religious and cultural pluralism represented in the liberal democracies of the West are present in Syria, ironically, through a kind of government-mandated “go along, get along” policy backed by an authoritarian police state. One can even find Syrian Jews living in the historic Jewish quarter of Damascus’ walled old city to this day.

Syrian urban centers have for decades been marked by a quasi-secular culture and public life of pluralist co-existence. Aleppo itself was always a thriving merchant center where a typical street scene would involve women without head-coverings walking side by side with women wearing veils (hijab), cinemas and liquor stores, late night hookah smoke filled cafés, and large churches and mosques neighboring each other with various communities living in peaceful co-existence. By many accounts, the once vibrant secular and pluralist Aleppo is now coming back to life (and largely never left government-held West Aleppo).

"Moderates" did not "liberate" Aleppo, but gave cover to an ISIS and al-Qaeda invasion

Image: "moderate" rebels mock a Christian government soldier
—This photo was originally posted online by a Swedish based terror group in Syria after the Summer 2013 rebel offensive against the Menagh airbase near Aleppo. A rebel fighter mocks a captured Christian government soldier’s cross. Another photo posted in the original set reveals that the soldier was later tortured by being crushed with a large rock on his chest as he lay on his back.

One of the most under reported and least understood events surrounding the history of how all of Aleppo province and the Northern Syria region became a hotbed of foreign jihadists is the fall of the strategically located Menagh airbase near Aleppo. As a Reuters timeline of events indicates:

In early 2012 rebels take control of the rural areas northwest of Aleppo city, besieging the Menagh military air base and the largely Shiite towns of Nubl and Zahra.

After a lengthy siege of Menagh, the base finally fell to jihadist factions under the command of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in August of 2013. This event was key to rebel fighters gaining enough territory to cut off the Aleppo-Damascus Highway, which allowed them to encircle all of Aleppo for much of that year. But a little known yet hugely important detail of the Menagh episode is that rebels only got the upper hand after being joined by ISIS suicide bombers commanded by Omar the Chechen (ISIS' now deceased most senior military commander). The fall of this government base is what opened a permanent jihadi corridor in the North, allowing terrorists to flood the area. The commander for the operation was US Ambassador Robert Ford's personal friend, Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, who was head of the US and UK funded Revolutionary Military Council of Aleppo (FSA). Okaidi worked in tandem with ISIS military commander Omar the Chechen and his crew for the operation - all while being supported by the United States and Great Britain.

Concerning US-backed Okaidi's close relationship to the ISIS faction in the summer of 2013, there is actually video evidence and eyewitness testimony (US Ambassador Ford himself later admitted the relationship to McClatchy News). Amazingly, the video, titled “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al Nusra” never had very widespread public distribution, even though it has been authenticated by the top Syria expert in the U.S., Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, and author of the hugely influential Syria Comment. Using his Twitter account, Dr. Landis commented: “in 2013 WINEP advocated sending all US military aid thru him [Col. Okaidi]. Underscores US problem w moderates.”

The video, documenting (now former) U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit to FSA Col. Okaidi in Northern Syria, also shows the same Col. Okaidi celebrating with and praising a well-known ISIS commander, Emir Abu Jandal, after conducting the joint Menagh operation. In an interview, this U.S. “key man” at that time, through which U.S. assistance flowed, also praised ISIS and al-Qaeda as the FSA’s “brothers.” Abu Jandal was part of Omar the Chechen's ISIS crew assisting the FSA. Further video evidence also confirms Omar the Chechen's role at Menagh. The videos also show Okaidi proudly declaring that al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) makes up ten percent of the FSA. The FSA was always more of a branding campaign to sell the rebels as "moderates" to a gullible Western media than a reality on the ground; it was a loose coalition of various groups espousing militant jihad with the end goal of establishing an Islamist polity in Syria.

Foreign fighters flooded Aleppo Province. The U.S. State Department’s own numbers: read the full report at STATE.GOV

In the end, terror groups like ISIS enjoyed a meteoric rise in Syria due to US government and media support for these so-called "moderate rebels" - all entities which collectively sought regime change at all costs - even the high cost of mass civilian death and suffering that inevitably results from unleashing an insurgency in urban areas.

The Syrian Army and government were never "Shia" or sectarian-based

Al Aziziyah neighborhood in Aleppo/via
 Syria Daily

The Arab Spring narrative was the ideological lens through which experts initially pit the oppressive supposedly “Alawite/Shia regime” against a popular uprising of Syria’s majority Sunnis. As Sunnis make up about 70% of Syria’s population, it was simply a matter of numbers, and of time. But this view proved overly simplistic, and according to one little known West Point study, utterly false. It was commonly assumed that the Syrian Army was a hollowed out Alawite institution with its Sunni conscripts apprehensively waiting for the right moment to defect to the rebel side. This was the fundamental supposition behind years of repetitious predictions of the Assad regime’s impending collapse, and predicated upon a view of the Syrian military as a fundamentally weak and sectarian institution. But West Point's 2015 study entitled Syria’s Sunnis and the Regime’s Resilience concluded the following:

Sunnis and, more specifically, Sunni Arabs, continue to make up the majority of the regular army’s rank-and- file membership.

The study's unpopular findings confirmed that the Syrian Army, which has been the glue holding the state together throughout this war, remains primarily a Sunni enterprise while its guiding ideology is firmly nationalistic and not sectarian.

The highest ranking Syrian officer to fall victim to rebel attack was General Dawoud Rajiha, Defense Minister and former chief of staff of the army, in a major 2012 bombing of a Damascus national security office. General Rajiha was an Orthodox Christian. Numerous Christians and officers of other religious backgrounds have served top positions in the Syrian Army going back decades - a reflection of Syria's generally nationalist and religiously tolerant atmosphere.

Mainstream press did not report from Aleppo, but was hundreds of miles away.

Outside the Citadel of Aleppo: life returning to normal, Summer 2017/via Syria Daily

The heavily populated urban areas of Syria continue to be held by the government. But most reporting has tended to dehumanize any voice coming out of government held areas, which includes the majority of Syrians. The war has resulted in over 6.5 million internally displaced people - the vast majority of which have sought refuge in government territory. 

The fact remains that there are some popular figures in the establishment media and analyst community who speak and write frequently about Syria, and yet have never spent a significant amount of time in the country. Throughout much of the war they've primarily reported from Western capitals - thousands of miles away - or, if they are in a Middle East bureau, without ever leaving the safety of places like Beirut or Istanbul. Fewer still have the necessary Arabic language skills to keep pace with local and regional events. Some have never been to Syria at all. They become willing conduits of rebel propaganda beamed through WhatsApp messages and Skype interviews, which was especially the case when it came to the battle for Aleppo. That much of the world actually considers these people as authorities on what’s happening in Syria is a joke – it’s beyond absurd.

Outdoor concert venue and Aleppo springs back to life, Summer 2017/
via Maram Kasem

We are hopeful that the jihadist menace will be fully expelled and that the international proxy war which has taken so many lives and reduced much of a beautiful nation to rubble will finally come to an end. Aleppines and other Syrians are rebuilding - they are optimistically preparing for the future. Welcome to the real Aleppo.

Final national exams just before summer 2017
/via Syria Daily

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Lost in translation's picture

Prayers answered, praise the Lord. God bless them, wish there was some way I could help...

JuliaS's picture

Still, notice with the article few days ago, how we rushed to take credit for work that Russians did in the area. Kind of like US winning WW2.

techpriest's picture

May God bring an end to tyranny.

Treason Season's picture

Very cool of you Tylers for posting this.  Thanks!

Ace006's picture

Indeed. A refreshing change from the "Assad the thug" garbage amd all the lies about US intentions and deliberate attacks on the Syrian army. This civilized, unique experiment, if you will, in a sui generis aproach to secular, tolerant living in the ME is exactly what the US has been trying to destroy.

Bizarre and dishonest doesn't begin to describe what we've done. A perfect example of John McCain's thinking.

Vanessa Beeley has also been excellent in her on-the-ground reporting from Syria, especially on the reality of the jihadi occupation. As has another woman whose name escapes me.

merizobeach's picture

With the official narrative about Syria exposed as propaganda (though many have known it all along), what does this also say about the official narrative about Iran?

HowdyDoody's picture

It is not just Syria, it was the Serbs, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and is Ukraine, Syria, the Philippines, Russia and Iran.

For some bizarre reason, the psychos in charge need to have public support for their wars. In the past that would be to raise manpower, but now most countries can be destroyed with a short dose of 'Freedom and Democracy' USAF-style. So why?

Any leader the West states is an 'authoritarian dictator' has to be assumed the opposite until proven otherwise. 'Anonymous sources' are totally untrustworthy and claims by 'activist opposition' sources - who are more than likely being paid by the West - have to be independently verified.

GreatUncle's picture

Because we are continually finding out what they are up too ... the public support is so we do not revolt against them also why you end up voting and they break all promises once elected referring only to the concept of the people voted for them.

GreatUncle's picture

Thnk bigger much bigger, why be so specific and apply past, present and future concepts.

"what does this also say about the official narrative about Iran?"


"what does this also say about the official narrative about anything and everything past and present and even for the future they are even now using propaganda to create".

merizobeach's picture

"why be so specific"

Yes, I'm totally on board with you that the official narrative about pretty much everything has been disinformation since long before I was born.  My point in being specific is that, with regard to Iran, the smartest guy I've ever met said it was one of his favorite countries (of the 100+ he's traveled), so much so that he continues to consider raising his daughter there for a few years.  He said the local people are not accurately represented by their theocratic government, that in a pub, upon first meeting a stranger, he might unsoliticitedly declare that he is an atheist and opponent of the government.  The Persians have a very long and interesting history.

HowdyDoody's picture

Eva Bartlett, a Canadian.

cookies anyone's picture

Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley, two lights in the neocon darkness of the middle east

LightBulb18's picture

Pictures can be dishonest. Remember this is A nation that has just suffered hundreds of thousands of deaths. The real test is what is the thinking of the people of the nation, and can it stand up to the challenges that this world has in store for them. In God I trust.

SHsparx's picture

I guess I shouldn't be surprised US would be funding a terrorist group that is anti-Chrstian. It's actually perfectly fitting.

Ace006's picture

The US is funding the CDU??!!

Holy moley!

What next?? And why does Merkel need our financial support? Now I'm really confused.

Khan Bodin's picture

It's not anti-Christian as much as it's anti-Muslim. Those western mercenaies there, terrorists, are mostly killing other Muslims. 

cheeseheader's picture

Sooo, maybe not about Assad really, but perhaps because of some type of commodities buried in the ground??


Oh, and perhaps because of some MIC types (of US, and perhaps a little ME nation)???

stacking12321's picture

Syria has a little oil, but more important is its strategic importance.

It is the jumping-off point for shipping routes to Europe and it is the end-cap of the new Silk Road, which will be sending Chinese manufacturing and Russian natural gas into Europe.

If USA had taken Syria, that trade route would be blocked to the eastern alliance, and Syria would instead be a conduit for Saudi and Bahrain natural gas into Europe. (Qatar was with them as well but defected east when it was clear that Syria was going to hold)

GreatUncle's picture

It has alot of water in relative terms ... that river runs all the way into Iraq.

Now what could a country do if short of water in the area if they could divert it for its own needs?

What country recycles most of its water because it just does not have enough and desalination plants.

Hint, begins with I.

keep the bastards honest's picture

Assad refused to allow saudis/US etc to run an oil pipeline across it to block Russian oil into europe. US has attmepted coups in Syria since 1946 or so many many times. Syria was listed  after 9/11 with iraq libya North Korea etc to be destroyed as axis of evil. Tulsi Gabbard went and looked closely and talked with locals  this year and girls asked her why the us was doing this to them.

land_of_the_few's picture

On a similar note, there have been articles lately about the West stealing freshly mined mineral uranium from Afghanistan.

Ukraine also has some mineral resources of uranium, some folks from that direction were speculating since it started that could be the reason for the whole thing.

They know it also might not be the reason, but what's interesting is they don't consider it worth thinking for a second that it could be anything other than war about resources or a military land-grab. The only real question for them is what exactly is the West stealing there.

Neochrome's picture

Ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

Make sure you visit for more pictures.

HowdyDoody's picture

That's a beautiful country. It clearly exposes one of the Zionist Great Lies that 'only Israel can make the desert bloom'. The Israelis do it by converting the place Las Vegas style, whereas the Arabs who have lived there for centuries live with, and adapt to, the circumstances. There's no wonder the land-grabbing, murderous Zionists hate the Syrians.

nmewn's picture

A well done article, concise and to the point of the realities of the people on the ground. 

Here people ridiculed myself, Ned and others when we mocked Arab Spaaarrriiing! for what it was, I guess they didn't know what we were talking about, now perhaps they do. For thousands of years they've been going through this, so you shouldn't be screwing around with shit you don't fully understand.

It could blow up in your face ;-)

Bay of Pigs's picture

Fuckers like McShitstain and Graham should hang for this shit.

These are war crimes against humanity.

nmewn's picture

Lets not forget Obama & Hillary, who got this newest shitstorm version rolling ;-)

Freddie's picture

The Syrian people, military and their allies have my upmost respect for standing up tp the ZWO and zio con monsters.

doctor10's picture

Obama and Hillary were just the tools. Just the tools. Remember that.

GreatUncle's picture

And blow up on your own doorstep thousands of miles away ...

ThrowAwayYourTV's picture

Oh, but the deep state wont let it last.

sinbad2's picture

I saw a doco on Iraq under Saddam, women were dressed in western clothes, people drinking alcohol, and generally seemed to be happy.

Meanwhile the US was putting forward the story that Saddam was a butcher and people lived in fear. It was the same with Syria Yugoslavia Libya, Ukraine etc etc etc.

As long as the American people believe the BS from the US Government and support the senseless murder of millions of people, these atrocities will continue. To my personal knowledge the US has been terrorizing the world for over 50 years, and the American people have made no effort to stop it, and in fact they seem to be proud of their crimes.

There is only one way to stop the carnage, the total destruction of the cause, the USA.

lolmao500's picture

But again, the US did put Saddam in power

GreatUncle's picture

Yep and did not say anything about the chemical weapons he used (supplied by?) in the Iraq / Iran war.

totenkopf88's picture

Iraq under Saddam was a threat to Israel- never the US- but based on some BS WMD intel from mossad presented by Colin "Stepin Fetchit" Powell at the UN the US Armed Goyim attacked Iraq.

Ace006's picture

A very persuasive interpretation.

Khan Bodin's picture

Iraq was a threat for Murica or rather those who control printing presses and digital creation of currency, because Iraq stopped trading in dollars. 

sinbad2's picture

Everytime the US butchers some people, the defense is always the Jews made me do it.

Don't you have a will of your own, just slaves to the Jews?

If you are just slaves, forced to murder the innocent, why do you glorify it?

TGDavis's picture

I saw some photos of women on the streets of Kabul, circa 1970. Thoroughly modern in dress and demeanor. 

SheHunter's picture

Then came along the days of internet.  And not so easy for the government to build the myths needed to support their war criminal MSM/TBTF/MIC.

Khan Bodin's picture

They are just lying through their teeth and spreding their lies through their dissemination centers called corporate media. There is nothing grandiose about it, but liberal westerners think there is. In the end you have to be somewhat simple-minded to swallow their dung, which is why they are dumbing down people systemically and on purpose. There are consequences for that though. ehehehe There are always consequences.

GreatUncle's picture

The % who believe them anymore is shrinking ... just gets harder and harder to have a good old war nowadays without your own population finding out.

hutnela's picture

I went there towards the middle-end of Iraqi freedom, and I also saw some (smoking hot) Iraqi college girls dressed in jeans, or how they would dress in the states. Everyone smoked, and people drank, which confused me because I had always heard before I went that these people looked down on all that. The narrative the western media pushed, or, what I heard from my friends almost always contradicted what I saw over there, and it got very confusing for a while. Eventually I did some research and found out that everything we had done over there was a lie, and thats why my friends, stateside, would always have information that contradicted what I saw PERSONALLY over there. It really was all an OPEC deal gone wrong, we invaded because Saddam was threatening to drop the petrodollar and go to the Euro and Ruble. We said the same things about Saddam as we are saying about Assad, and its still about the petrodollar (an oil pipeline to be exact).

LyLo's picture

I knew a woman that went into the military and was sold the "oppressed women" line about Iraq.  In her mind, she was this grand liberator.  Having some knowledge of the region, it seriously disturbed me how happy she was to have played a role.

I explained, on more than one occasion, that Iraq was actually the primary consumer of cosmetics and female products in the ME, and one of the primary producers as well.  They were essentially a secular society, in which women could smoke, drive, and vote, all guaranteed by their constitution.  Supposedly, Hussein had made it illegal for women to work (can't even find a good source for that one anymore; apparently that claim got memory holed)...  Yet still gave women maternity leave by law, which we can't manage to do here to this day.  lulz 

"Bbbbut...  THE HIJABS!"  Yeah, they started to come in around 2001, right when ya'll showed up.  Then you guys gave them the country.  Now, they have Sharia Law...  And guess what happened to those makeup wearing, driving, smoking women?

That lady really didn't like me.  I made her cry a few times.  I can get...  persistent when I get annoyed.  And it turns out, if you can actually show them what they did, it makes the military women that served in that region very, very upset. 

OverTheHedge's picture

Here's an interesting thought: imagine that the US, instead of having a 20 year tantrum to keep the petrodollar going at all cost, had gracefully accepted the inevitable, and made the necessary adjustments to budgets and economy in the 1990s, when this all started. What would US debts, world debt, and the US economy look like now? It may be much worse global than it is now, with huge wars raging, or it must that not.Banking might not be quite the power that it is now, that's for sure.

I wonder......

Khan Bodin's picture

They were dressed like ladies, yes. Western women also used to be dressed like ladies, now they dress like prostitutes.

el buitre's picture

To my personal knowledge the US has been terrorizing the world for over 50 years,

54 years if you take Nov. 22, 1963 as the kick-off of the Deep State.

GreatUncle's picture

Try 1935 and earlier, supporting Adolf coming to power with nice old loans from the likes of JPM and Morgan Stanley.

If Adolf wasn't terror what was it?