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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Khan Bodin's picture

Have you seen what kind of beastilities westerners committ? Having copulations with all sorts of domesticated animals (because wild ones scare them) seems to be a western liberal cultural trait. Sex with goats, pigs, horses or even ducks is on menu for liberal westerners. I hope that gun on your avatar is not something you use to clean your asshole, hmm? ehehehe

redmudhooch's picture

Why the hell would you watch? Weird-o

silverman's picture

You sir! Out of the gene pool... NOW!


koaj's picture

Looks nicer than Camden or Detroit

Khan Bodin's picture

Of course. Mesopotamia is a birth place of civilization. They did have terrible misfortune that those Arabs bedouins from Arabian peninsula and further south from east Africa invaded their homeland, which in turn made their fine qualities and their IQ to go down. Those Mesopotamian cultures never wanted to have anything to do with bedouins. They had waged wars on each other in Levant, but never had their quality gone down. It all changed with arrival of bedouins and Africans. Thousands of years of civilizational advancement gone down the drain. There is a lesson for westerners there. You know, back in the time of the birth of civilization in Mesopotamia and later on, thousands of yers later in fact... all the way to middle ages, you westerners to them were just like Arabs and Africans today are in comparison to you. Crossbreeding with lesser blood will cause you to debase. O yea. 

Khan Bodin's picture

When is Murica, its vassals and ass-lickers going to pay compensation for destruction of Syria? That's the question we are all wondering about. O Murica would want to wage wars and destroy countries, but Murica doesn't want to pay for its crimes. Isn't that right westerners? Westerner is a parasitic creature through and through. Opportunistic and parasitic. Just like the Jews, their friends and overlords. ehehehehe

Toshie's picture

On the whole average westerners are nice people, like to live and let live. But there is a certain group that is global that is bent on NOT letting live..
They will not leave you alone.

Racism is all over the world in varying degrees. It's just human nature

Westerners now are slowly under attack and are pressured by job insecurity, immigrants from distant lands, crime etc etc.

The struggle is global.

Khan Bodin's picture

Very nice. You invade and attack sovereign countries, shovel your unwanted degenerate liberal diseases on healthy people, steal everyting not nailed down, indulge in all sorts of perversive sexual activities your filthy minds can think of, etc. are just some traits of you nice liberal westerners possess. Racism? Is that something akin to your discrimination against domestic animals, your bans on marriages with animals for example? Inquiring minds would like to know. ehehehehe

TJ00's picture


Bana Alabed's family life in Eastern Aleppo | Investigation by Khaled Iskef

SMC's picture

Thanks to Russia keeping the USSA War Machine from destroying another country.

Rebelrebel7's picture

Pretty soon we will be in the real America! I'm ripping the mask off of the front corporate communist system and the fraudulent Federal Reserve! 


Khan Bodin's picture

When are westerenrs going to pay reparation for invasion of countless countries and killings of ~30 million people after the WW2? That's what we would like to know.

redmudhooch's picture

Sorry, we are broke, we spent all our money on killing folks and blowing their shit up.

I'll refer you to John McCain...

Horseless Headsman's picture

In fact, we'll send you John McCain

WTFUD's picture

To be fair, westerner's brutalize more humanely than their proxy foreign militias. Sarc

Rabbitnexus's picture

Those proxies were trained and armed by those Westerners to do their dirty work.  Not much of a distinction you make really.

Cordeezy's picture

Trump is also being compared to Hitler, we can relate here in the USA.  The Western media isnt exactly friendly to Trump.  Maybe they will stop thinking of the USA as a western nation.



Khan Bodin's picture

Let us have this straight. Muslims are bad when they kill (even though those mercenaries and terrorists fighting for the Jews and westerners are as Muslim as House of Saud is), but when westerners do it, and mind you westernrs do it on a far, far larger scale, then it's a-key. Westerners are "liberating" while Muslims are "terrorizing," right? ehehehehe When some Muslims committ a crime then Islam is bad, but when westerns committ astronomically bigger crimes nobody points out at liberalism, an ideology of imperialism and degeneracy, under which westerners are committing unimaginable crimes. In fact we all heard about crimes of nazism and communism, but where are the crimes of liberalism and western secularism, hmm? Just from the WW2 to today, westerners have murdered around 30 million people in their aggressions on sovereign countries. But liberalism have been operating much longer than that. It's imperial banner of Anglo British Empire. We can only imagine how much people that western Anglo ideology has murdered. Hundreds of millions. Where is the outrage for all those hundreds of millions of people westerners have killed and the ruin of countless countries westerners have invaded? 

libfrog88's picture

It is so ironic that the presstitute in the Us are adamant against Russia intervening in their election (not proven to this day) when they are the ones interfering in so many countries around the world. They would be rich if not for all their military expenditures that get them nothing except hate and resentment. Hope they all go home, build a wall around themselves and never again get out.

redmudhooch's picture

Everyone who had a hand in creating this chaos should be headed to the gallows, McCain for sure.

The MSM is complicit too, and deserve the same fate. Why does 90% of the world hate America now?

Tulsi Gabbard is the only person in our govt. who had the courage to speak up about this.

Let that sink in, ONE person.

ludwigvmises's picture

Remember our FAKE MEDIA said Assad wants to "destroy Aleppo" and "kill everyone in it". Now look at Aleppo pictures today and look at how Mossul looks (after our airforce is done with it).

WTFUD's picture

Let's go train and arm the worst bunch of filthy murdering shit we can find and unleash them on the citizens because their President's not playing ball and out of sync with our aspirations of global domination.

We'll screw over Iraq, Libya , then Syria . . . . wait those pesky Russians . . . there's a lull . . . so let's transfer some of the heavy stuff over to Yemen for target practice . . . . EVIL, EVIL, EVIL.

Northern Flicker's picture

1) Who owns the media that they would report these lies?

2) The US supporting backward Muslim regimes such as Saudi Arabia and the GCC, while attacking secular, "relatively democratic" regimes such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya is a little like Gen. Custard joining the Indians and attacking the wagon trains.

Able Ape's picture

The irrepressible human spirit rebounds!  Think what America could accomplish if Washington, D.C. were burnt to the ground...

Dooder's picture

Just another thriving country and culture to destroy like Iraq, Libya, Lebanon African puppet countries, etc. thanks to the murdering banksters.

Dr. Dooms-a-lot's picture

Well, good for them.
If they cand do it anyone can.
Viva Mexico!

Haitian Snackout's picture

I had no idea that McCain read ZH. This surely explains the blood clot.

DirtySanchez's picture

The US policy makers, its war machine, and propaganda fake news industry must be exposed to the entire world.

More than half of the US population believes everything they see and hear on the propaganda networks.

The military industrial complex owns the politicians and the propaganda networks.

This needs to stop immediately.

Hanomy's picture

What's a happy piece of news greeting my Sunday ... To Syrians, these last few years were tough for you guys ... the war was brought on to your country by foreigners and the global elites.  Now you overcome that problem, please don't forget this.  Treat your neighbours well and don't let outsiders divide you ever.  So much good can come out of this.  Your country and people unity will be stronger by many folds.  Congratulation.  Thanks, Assad and Putin.    

Please review  Hanomy Manifesto (download it for free from  , a non-commercial site).  It's a  new social, financial, and social system for the whole world.  Please help me spread the words.  I think we can still have time to make the world the special place for all.

Highlights of Hanomy:

• Fundamental human needs met throughout life’s existence
• Basic human rights observed everywhere
• Sovereign debts worldwide are settled and eliminated
• Upheld liberty and freedom
Financial contributions drawn from a portion of idle/unutilized money
No taxes on income, profit or spending
• Interest charges and usury practices abolished
• Power of money creation where it belongs - the people
• An end to the fractional reserve system
• Upheld free market principles (true capitalism but with social responsibility)
• Decreased or dissolved inflation and hyperinflation
• Reduced income inequality
• An end to corporate welfare
• Advanced technology benefiting humanity
• Freedom of time for quality of life and caregiving
• Prohibited conditions for authoritarianism
Preserved sovereignty and respected borders
• An end to “modern day slavery” (this includes you)
• Improved care of the environment and world resources
• A world we’re proud to claim and pass along

novictim's picture

Lest we forget the proven facts: THERE ARE NO MODERATES FIGHTING ASSAD

The US Military Train and Equip Program financed to the tune of $500Million was discontinued because THE TRAINERS COULD FIND NO MODERATES TO TRAIN.

In the end, "four or five" people who could be described as moderates were trained at the total cost of $41 Million.(Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin III before Senate Armed Services Committee, September 16th, 2015.)


The Senate panel was not pleased.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, that’s a joke,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) in her response to the number of Syrians still in the fight.

“So we’re counting on our fingers and toes, where we envisioned 5,400 by the end of this year,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

“This is just a total failure,” lamented Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

moorewasthebestbond's picture

I wish them well, along residents of the greater Donetsk region.

SRV's picture

But Woof Woof said barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs... barrel bombs!

DirtySanchez's picture

Disregard this propaganda!

This does not fit the neocon/neoliberal, military industrial complex, DC establishment, corporate fake news propaganda mouthpiece, Israeli interest, story we are all constantly fed.

Volaille de Bresse's picture

If you live in Europe you might have noticed that the scumbags at the French/German TV channel "Arte" make NO mention of Aleppo.


But when the city was "administrated" by the Jihadi scumbags the "Arte" journalists would show us daily reports about how brave the resistance against Assad was and how much the White Helmets deserved the Nobel Peace Price. The bullshit avalanche was thrown at us EVERY FUCKING DAY. And they'd show us close-ups of kids pulled from under houses' rubbles every day.


Now that Aleppo is truly free from the Islamist scum, "Arte" is strangely slient about Syria.


FUCK YOU "Arte" you NWO zombies! And fuck you Marie Labory (the lezzie anchormwoman who thinks Trump is worse than ISIS)

silverman's picture

Living in France I have to agree with this assessment, but you left out the biggest globalist psyop of all, France 24. Shamelessly selling establishment horseshit since their inception. The BBC, Sky, etc. are no better. The zionists have a lock on European media.

Dickweed Wang's picture

I've known most of what was in this article for some time but it still pisses me off to read this . . . I mean, how fucking evil are the governments of the US and the UK to basically have caused ALL the problems in Syria since 2011?? How many people have died in Syria because of the machinations of evil people in both of those governments?  It make me ashamed to be an American.  If the expected shit storm comes to the USA in the near future it will be richly deserved.

yellowsub's picture

Doesn't the US have the market on rebuild contracts?

This is great progress, I thought not too long ago they had articles of places that was devastated...

allthegoodnamesaretaken's picture

All the talk about racist, all that is racist is the Media, the Government, the Military; the military, after all that is what a military is, it is racist and always looking for a fight.  The soldiers themselves may not be racist or at least not overly racist, certainly we, the people, are not racist, the organization, the Military, is racist, though the soldiers may not be.  Actually, and I struggle to not go there, but, it is the Banker Jews and their Jew Banker King that are racist, and, so much they want 95 percent of all of us, dead.  There is just no other way to cut it, since first Mayer Amschel Bauer hung that red shield over his door we have been in constant turmoil, experiencing hate, misery and murder.  We just had gotten somewhat past the Vatican’s ruler ship, a terrible time of plagues, rape, misery and murder, millions dying of the plague, millions being burned alive at the stake, how could it get any worse?  Then came old Mayer and his red shield and we have not been the same since.  Same old robbery, rape and murder, no burning at the stake but every other kind of murder you can think of has and is being employed.  God damn, if it weren't for "the founding of America" its constitution and bill of rights, a semblance of law and order for a while at least; now we have beheadings looming over us and sharia law, oh great, and, thanks a lot Mr. Rothschild.  Strange, the Muslims problem is with Israel but Israel is never attacked, scared or what.  I think, or what.  Anyway, I shudder to think what the world would be like today were it not for the Founding of America and the way it was done, though, and sadly, the founding didn’t last long.  Almost immediately the changes started occurring, then President Grant 1871, the changing of the United States of America to THE UNITED STATES COMPANY, then Woodrow Wilson and his Federal Reserve, always wars, wars, wars, and more wars.  Now the attack comes from all sides, racism, licentiousness, destruction of education and the justice system and still, war, war, war.  Yeah right, with ‘the chosen’ running things who could want more, misery and death.  Oh yeah, this article is about Syria and the hope the people there have for a better future free from war.  Good luck with that.