Aleppo – A tale of two cities.


"… a city of sharply contrasting halves, and one side clearly appears to have the upper hand.

In a park on the government-held side, families picnic while children line up to buy balloons and popcorn. A few miles away, on a sprawling university campus, thousands of students attend class. Downtown, the city’s cinema plays the latest Hollywood films. In the evenings, the restaurants fill.

War brings death and discomfort, but life continues here with a surprising degree of normality.

It’s a far cry from the images of Aleppo the world has seen during Syria’s war: the rubble-filled streets, the carcasses of buildings, lifeless bodies being dragged out of piles of detritus after airstrikes. But that is the rebel-held side.

There, the mishmash of armed groups in control are almost entirely encircled and were brutally bombarded before a recent cease-fire brought some relief. Sitting right on the battle lines, the old city of Aleppo is in tatters. The 13th-century citadel that rises above its now scorched markets with their famed vaulted ceilings is a Syrian army base."  Washpost


The Borgist (foreign policy establishment) media description of the situation and living conditions in Aleppo city has been mendacious (lying).  With the exception of Frederick Pleitgen, TV journalists (most especially from CNN) have consistently traveled to Aleppo with Syrian government cooperation and protection, have stayed in hotels in the government held  part (most) of the City and then ventured into the rebel held pocket with its small population of Sunni fanatics, jihadi fighters and FSA unicorns for the purpose of misrepresenting the situation as being one in which "hundreds of thousands" of Alleppans (halabiyeen) are living in Leningrad siege conditions under frightful government and Russian bombardment while starving to death in the hope of achieving basic human rights.  What a crock!  This is the worst kind of memetic manipulation of images.  In the latest such effort that has come to my attention the Anglo-American CNN "flavor of the month," Clarissa Ward traveled to Aleppo (once again over the government held road LOC) to "report" from the rebel pocket in Aleppo City.  There, dressed like a salafi nun from hell, she went to moan about how tough things are for those who "fight for their religion."  I guess that Pleitgen was just too even handed for the powers that be at CNN.  He has now been "exiled" to Europe. 

In contrast we have this unaccountably wonderful story in today's Washington Post about real life in Aleppo.  Read it.  Notice the women students wearing the hijab at Aleppo University in government held Aleppo.

It continues to be my opinion that reduction of the rebel Aleppo and Idlib pockets should be a very high priority for the Syrian government.   Getting the electricity back on soon in government held Aleppo should be matter of great concern now that the SAA has recaptured the main power plants.  That alone should trigger a wave of defections from among "the pure" in the rebel pocket.  pl

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19 Responses to Aleppo – A tale of two cities.

  1. oofda says:

    “Unaccountably wonderful” is spot-on! This was in the Post? The Washington Post? I think that I just saw a large Yorkshire boar winging his way overhead!

  2. bth says:

    “Notice the women students wearing the hijab at Aleppo University in government held Aleppo”.
    Colonel not being familiar with the norm in Aleppo and in particular at the university, what does that tell you? What do you see with an experienced eye?

  3. turcopolier says:

    It tells me that these are women from pious but modern families. pl

  4. mogol_gr says:

    Surrender or starve.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Firstly, don’t ever post something here more than once. All comments are moderated. You will wait until I take notice of your comment like everyone else. Secondly your comment is incomprehensible. You don’t like the article? Explain why or do not post anything. pl

  6. Laguerre says:

    Surprising that the University is still working. I have a student with a post there. He is a Druze, in danger every time he leaves his home in Suwaida, to make the trip. Fortunately he has a post-doc in Germany this summer.

  7. turcopolier says:

    How do you account for the university still being open? pl

  8. bth says:

    Thanks…. Seems like America should get on the side that can keep the lights in the street and of the mind turned on.

  9. JohnH says:

    When I was in Aleppo in 2010, I was surprised to see very trendy, upscale women wearing veils over their faces and hijabs over their blue jeans and velvet covered high heels as they strolled down a main shopping street. In Aleppo outerwear was much more conservative than in Damascus. Judging by what was sold in the store windows, there was a lot of very interesting clothing underneath the outerwear.
    It looks like the magnificent Hafez al-Assad mosque, just west of the city center has survived in tact, while the Great Mosque next to the medina did not fare so well.

  10. Brunswick says:

    Patrick Cockburn and Robert Fisk, both at the Independent have been pretty much the only MSM journalists who have a “balanced” history of reporting on Syria.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Evidently, the Hejab crowd does not wish to join the Salafis…

  12. gemini33 says:

    I was really surprised that there are still 120,000 students in that university. In a war zone. Amazing and it seems like it says a whole lot about how highly education is valued in Syria. I also found it to be “unaccountably wonderful” and wondered if I was missing something.
    British journo Peter Oborne spent a week in Aleppo in February and did some really good reports from there. He works for more than one news outlet so a Google search of “Oborne” and “Aleppo” will produce some things about that reporting. He also did a BBC radio report that I liked. (This page is not user friendly imho so — You click on the intersecting squares on left side of this page about halfway down, it opens a window with a player and then you click the play arrow to listen)

  13. johnf says:

    Peter Oborne too did a wonderful piece five or six weeks ago for a specialist publication.
    A version of it appeared in the Daily Mail. The words were not altered but the many photographs (the Mail on Line is overwelmingly visual) were captioned to make it appear he was reporting from East Aleppo.

  14. Swerv21 says:

    This is just a theory about those girls.
    If you are of marrying age and going to school in times like these, you’d like to meet a boy from the same “jama’a” as yours (that is, religious sect). Mixed marriages were somewhat exceptional in the best of times, but now…
    Most of these girls are going to be Sunni. Christian, Alawi and Druze women in Syria don’t wear hijab- and there are no Shia in Aleppo.
    I agree with the colonel, I think most of these girls are as modern as the next girl- but they are good girls from good families.
    But I’ve often wondered how much the hijab is a way for them to signal their affiliation so that the right kind of boys notice.

  15. LG says:

    The following twitter handle uploads photos every day of ordinary street scenes in government controlled territory.

  16. LG says:

    Meet ‘Abu Tahseen’ an Iraqi veteran who has build up years of experience fighting in several wars. ‘Abu Tahseen’ joined the ‘Popular Mobilization Units’ as a volunteer to defend Iraq from ISIS. He as born in 1953. He is a sniper veteran of 5 armed conflicts. The Yom Kippur war, Iran-Iraq war, Invasion of Kuwait, Gulf War and today fights against ISIS. He is currently stationed at Makhoul Mountains in North Baiji. Since May 2015 he has killed 173 ISIS fighters. | Al-Masdar News

  17. LG says:

    Sorry wrong page. It was meant to go on the open thread page 🙁

  18. Laguerre says:

    Determination of the government to maintain “normality”, I think. If you remember, they were continuing to hold the Bac, even in the isolated villages, by sending in the examination papers by helicopter, along with the examiners. One such helicopter got shot down, with the death of the teachers. I don’t know whether that is continuing. They are continuing to pay the salaries of teachers even in rebel-held territory. That will help the education system to get going again rapidly, once the rebellion is over. A degree of obligation is being used though. The system isn’t particularly nice to public employees. I won’t bore you with the details.

  19. Chris Chuba says:

    Yeah, if the Assad govt is keeping civil service operating in rebel held territory then that does not fit the CNN narrative that he is doing everything he can (with Russian help) to destroy public infrastructure. It pretty much is as simple as that.
    It looks like bad reporting results in even more bad reporting. CNN here’s allegations and some circumstantial evidence that hospitals have been destroyed and that the Russians did it, wait, it’s Putin, the guy who shoots down air lines and assassinates ex-Patriots, we don’t really have to go out of our way to fact check this allegation. Oh, and the next time there is a Putin is bad story they will think, ‘oh yeah, he’s the guy who targets hospitals’, so maybe he’ll be blamed if the Ukranians attack the DPR.
    In any case, CNN put it out there. They all but said, the Russians are attacking civilian targets in rebel areas. If this is demonstrably proved wrong in the future there is no way they can weasel out and claim that they were just reporting the news in a professional manner.

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