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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monk27's picture

This is why it is worth fighting "the company" and its morons. It is also a beautiful sight...

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ mon,

The Agency is Cancer.

There should be no question about the CIA's future in the US.

Dissolved & dishonored. Its members locked away or punished for Treason.

Their reputation is so bad and has been for so long, that the fact that you joined them should be enough to justify arrest and Execution for Treason, Crimes Against Humanity & Crimes Against The American People.

Ace006's picture

Easy there. The agency is full of competent, patriotic people. Anything they do is what the president wants.

A Nanny Moose's picture

anything they do is what the Deep State wants.



Manthong's picture


You know, it’s a bitch getting old and understanding all of the crap you had to go through to still be alive.

..regarding the Trumpster…

Bannon is still there and look this up……

 “He don’t know me very well…do he?”

Dame Ednas Possum's picture

Wow! Just think of how much the fortunate people of Aleppo have benefitted from all those broken windows.

goober's picture

"normalcy under stabilizing government institutions." this comment proves this article could only be written by a pro big governemt Obamaite drone.

and were all those people at the pool and concert and other nice scenes commoners or elites of same government  ? The simple truth is after Bush created the original mess BHO made it even worse and actually helped create ISIS ! And the CIA and other spooks were the perpetrators of all of it. This article is a sham in some ways. One thing is for sure, when we get involved in forcing others how to live and think , bad shit happens. I see this article largely as and advert for what a great guy Assad is. But so was Saddam. Their culture is very different and they have been infighting sectarian crap for ever . So who are we to say diddly sqat unless you beleive the 9/11 myth ? 

JamesinNM's picture

Please listen to John F Kennedy's speech on secret societies. He was quite possibly the only real American President.

Manthong's picture

……he was speaking about the propaganda news business …ha..ha    haaaaaaa  He delivered that at the Natilonal Press Club in the heart of the beast.

Oh, fer god’s sake.

JFK was a player.

,,,best outside of Reagan

Nowhere near as good as Jackson,

…….but 200 years later we get another really interesting character.


Yeah? Ask Trump about that.

GreatUncle's picture

Nope, they work for the globalists.

Since Trump was elected the deep state because it was not their choice if you have not noticed stripped Trump of most of his power, neutering him until Clinton or their next favourite is elected next.

Unless of the course the deep state with the assistance of the CIA can get Trump impeached.

neutrino3's picture

Your thoughts are too loud. What are you hiding behind.

JamesinNM's picture

You are correct. Most are deceived. False Jews run the nation.

Maghreb's picture

I´m not going to argue about the CIA but this whole article seems a bit odd to me. Could be entirely fake. I don´t see how they could have rebuilt the city in a year since the battle ended. We saw alot of similar crap coming out from National Geographic about marines going on holiday in Baghdad to see how good things were.

Most of the country is still a warzone and a swim party isn´t going to bring back the dead. This looks more like some photo shoots to create the illusion Aleppo is ok.......

It´ll be decades before Aleppo recovers if ever. They´ll be turning up bodies and ordinance for a century or more.....

Patriot Eke's picture

You guys and gals know I don't post much, and I stick to things I know.  This isn't just the CIA.  There is a long list of intelligence services from multiple tax farms all working together, and then there are quite a few that are not working together.  It is a huge mess. 

I cannot say for sure either, but I believe there is at least one new agency/group.  The US State Department is related to it, and it seems to do that agency's bidding.  Right now we have CIA backed forces fighting US State Department backed forces.  That's how screwed up the situation is. 

What is that other entity? I don't know what it is or what exactly its mission is, but it is doing a lot of dirty work for the US State Department that puts it in direct conflict with the CIA.  I'm not giving them a pass either though, so don't mistake this post as pro-CIA.  Please keep an open mind, and realize there are hidden players that are far more dangerous than the CIA.

There are different forces within the USA that are fighting each other.  Some are trying to put a stop to imperalism, and some are trying to further it.

silvercity's picture

It makes one feel good to believe that there are two governments: 1) the Evil Deep State,2) the Holy and Righteous Real State. Just defeat the Deep State and life will be wonderful living only under the Real State that loves it's citizens and works only to improve and enrich their lives. A fanasy world straight out of the movies.

Flyundertheradarrake's picture

Yes, a beautiful sight.  When is the US scheduled to destroy it all again? 


bobbbny's picture

This story is all over the MSM.

Just kidding.

ACP's picture

When the next democrat neocon comes into power.

Note: Keep in mind, the senile old repubican neocons are old, and will die without ever taking the presidency.

doctor10's picture

ya...lookin' like somebody there is a little short on "Freedom"..../s

TBT or not TBT's picture

And here we thought the triggers were being pulled by various stripes of muslims.    Turns out CIA mind controlled them, probably using that HAARP thing.  Its not just for earthquakes anymore.   

MS7's picture

If not for Russia this place would have looked like Libya already.

xrxs's picture

Fuck theocracy and authoritarianism.  Great to see them rebuilding. Good luck, Aleppines.

Crypto Kevin's picture

The Syrian government is still authoritarian. Secular but still a bunch of brutal thugs. The Syrian people are screwed no matter who wins.

Proctologist's picture

But quite possibly worse off under Washingtons brutal thugs.

Byte Me's picture

"But quite definitely worse off under Washingtons brutal thugs."


doctor10's picture

Well those brutal thugs, having been routed overseas, are now looking at each and everyone of us right here at home...and our President who is busy dancing on a tightrope trying not to trip one of the wires they're stringing around him

Truther's picture

You'll change your mind once you visit that land why don't you try it out first

veritas semper vinces's picture

The only absolutely certain thing is that you are an idiot

GreatUncle's picture

What government is not authoritarian? We no logner live as free peoples but as slaves to those globalist and puppet governments ruling over us.

silvermail's picture

To talk about whether the Syrian government is authoritarian or not, elections in Syria are needed.
But Washington is afraid of the elections in Syria as a fire.
Similarly, Washington is afraid of the results of a popular democratic referendum in the Crimea.
Washington is afraid of truth and democracy.

Khan Bodin's picture

Are you stupid, westerner? Those terrorist mercenaries are not fighting for theocracy or under theocracy. They are just a large band of mercenaries gathered from all around the world to do the bidding of those paying them, which is you westerners. Iran is a theocracy. And the second part of the reason for your western (and Jewish of course) enmity and hate of Iran is because iran is a successful theocracy (the first part being that you want to install a western regime there which would price and sell all Iranian energy, oil and gas, in dollars, thus giving the dollar, the most worthless currency in the world, artifically high value). Theocratic leaders are always far more moral than secular ones, which make them a preferable option between the two. If you westerner had any sense, you would want your leaders to be adherents of Christian morality. If you were smart, you would choose theocracy rather than the plutocratic sham you call democracy. Instead like midless beasts you prefer to be ruled by godless atheistical nihilists. It's no coincidence that you are becoming animals more and more. Cause and effect. To each his own I guess. Just don't export your filthy ways you call democracy, and all will be well. 

Liberty4Sum's picture

Because Theocracies never engage in immoral acts or go to war to enforce their ideologies...

StephenHopkins's picture

World without the DeepState.

techpriest's picture

I've said it elsewhere - 90% of people just want to get along and lead their lives, but the 1-2% in the political class just can't leave people alone.

The Wizard's picture

What draws those who wish to be in the "political class" is the ego. They believe they know what is best for everyone and they need authority to control people's lives.

techpriest's picture

Yep, and the 9% that push the 90% around for the 1%, are in it for the "iron rice bowl," a steady job and a pension.

froze25's picture

Let's not forget about the permanent welfare class, they want their free shit and more of it.

LyLo's picture

Yeah, but their FSA seems a *tad* more savage and demanding than our FSA.

Liberty4Sum's picture

I don't know if it's so much that they think they know or even care what's best for everyone else or rather they only care about what's best for themsleves.  But yes I agree, ego and wealth accumulation, power, control - all that stuff is at the heart of it.

turnoffthewater's picture

Considering the 1%(bankers), There's no money in peace. And nothing will change unless peace loving people don't rise up to prevent further destruction


There in lies the problem, peace loving people tend to love peace and don't rise up unless they are directly effected

Ace006's picture

The viciousness and dishonesty of the political class is astonishing. They intend to destroy everything they can.

nightwish's picture

Political class is not specific enough. Those guys take orders from higher ups

The goal is to tear the middle east inside out and destory these cultures systematically. 100-200 more years of warring is no problem, as long as the money comes from the us taxpayer, and israels 'enemies' are left bereft of history and homeland

Israel is obsessed about retaining power and control over the world, hence constant strife and war with no peace

techpriest's picture

Once you understand that the political class is the current group of ruling gangsters, a lot of things will start to make sense. One of them being why the idea of limited government is so radical - how dare people have the freedom to make their own choices?

froze25's picture

That would be the globalist 

Teknopagan's picture

World without Zionist control.