Where is the West’s compassion & condemnation following terror attacks in Middle East?

Zein Abudllah, 8, injured by shrapnel to his face in the December 12 terorist car bombing.  © Eva Bartlett

 

Jan 30, 2016, Russia Today, re-published at Global Research

-by Eva Bartlett

Facebook users were not instructed to do so, but may nonetheless wish to change their profile pictures in solidarity with the families and friends of victims of recent terrorist attacks.

A great many of the victims were aspiring university students, others were school teachers, children, infants, parents, and elderly. Their bodies were torn apart in the acts of violence, many unidentifiable.

Most of these innocent victims will go unnamed, their murders obfuscated, or largely unnoticed, in Western media.

Consider the following cycle of carnage:

On November 12, 2015, a double suicide bomb ripped through the Bourj al-Barajneh neighbourhood of southern Beirut, killing 45 and injuring 200 more, many critically so. The terrorists attacked just before 6 pm, on a narrow and crowded residential and commercial street, ensuring maximum loss of life. More would have been murdered had not a local man, Adel Termos, tackled an approaching suicide bomber. Termos lost his life in the blast, but saved countless others with his act of courage.

On December 12, 2015, terrorists car-bombed, then suicide-bombed, the al-Zahra’a neighborhood of Homs, Syria, killing at least 16 civilians and injuring over 50, according to initial reports from Syrian State media (later updates noted 20 dead and over 100 injured). The deaths and destruction from the initial car-bombing—near the Ahli Hospital—was made worse since the terrorists set off their bomb next to a natural gas delivery truck. Later, a terrorist returned to the scene and detonated his explosive vest among rescuers who had come to help the injured.

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Site of the terrorist car-bombing on December 12, 2015, in al-Zahra’a, Homs.

This pattern repeated itself on December 28, 2015, in al-Zahra’a, where a car bomb followed by a suicide bomb, killed up to 30 civilians, and injured over 100, according to Syrian state media initial reports. Again, on January 26, terrorists car and suicide bombed al-Zahra’a, killing at least 24 and injuring over 100, many critically-so, according to Syrian state media.

The al-Zahra’a district of Homs had been terror-bombed many times prior to the December 12 attacks, as have other areas of Homs, including the Ekrama district, which suffered a school bombing on October 1, 2014. There, terrorists car and suicide-bombed next to the school, killed 45 people, mostly children and women, according to al-Masdar News. Video footage showed terrified, maimed and dead children being carried away from the school.

The terror attacks are not limited to Homs. Over the past 5 years of this foreign war on Syria, Western-backed militants have committed such acts of terrorism all over Syria. On December 30, 2015, members of Da’esh (ISIS) triple-bombed Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, remote-detonating explosives in three restaurants, killing at least 16 civilians. On January 24, 2016 Da’esh again terror-bombed the city, killing at least three people.

The list of terror attacks in Syria, and neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, is an endless and long list. Yet, while the vast majority of the victims are civilians, their deaths do not merit the same front-page coverage as similar acts do in the West; the terror attacks do not merit the same statements of condemnation and outpouring of sorrow issued by Western leaders when terrorism strikes elsewhere.

Immense Suffering in Beirut and Homs

I paid a visit to Bourj al-Barajneh and al-Zahara, in November and December 2015, respectively. I witnessed firsthand their narrow roads with their destroyed buildings and homes, which emanated an immense suffering that most Western media glossed over.

The Bourj al-Barajneh tragedy occurred one day before the November 13 attacks in Paris, yet the latter attack on the French capital would make headlines for weeks following; Facebook users changed their profile photos to images of the French flag; world leaders – who were largely silent on Beirut’s tragedy the day prior, as well as the repeated terror attacks in Syria – convened in Paris to march in solidarity with the victims.

Western media’s coverage of the Beirut attack was loaded with sectarian lexicon, essentially relegating those murdered civilians as belonging to a “Hezbollah stronghold” or a “Shia neighborhood,” which to Western readers obscures the fact that – while indeed proudly supportive of Hezbollah – these are everyday humans who have been targeted by terrorism.

The Shia/Sunni Lebanese area is also home to many Christian and Palestinian residents. Visiting in the evening, as when the November 12 attacks occurred, I saw heavy pedestrian, motorcycle and automobile traffic along the narrow streets and lanes that host a number of shops and stalls.

Commerical and residential streets in the Bourj al-Barajneh area of Beirut which was double terror bombed November 12. © Eva Bartlett

 

At the site of the second explosion, residents had erected a memorial and large poster of Adel Termos, the young man who gave his own life to prevent further loss of lives. On the school door opposite, a photo of a Rawan Awad, a young teacher who was killed in the attacks. A local woman pointed to second-story windows, telling me, “the blood reached the windows up there, flesh, too. The blast was huge.” It was said to be the biggest explosion in Beirut for years.

Along the memorial were photos of other victims of these terror attacks: elderly, children, young men and women, victims of Western-backed terror and Western hypocrisy. Their lives didn’t merit worldwide sorrow and solidarity.

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Adel Termos, the hero who prevented further loss of lives.

 

Je Suis… Blind and Deaf

The sting that the Lebanese people felt when the world’s attention was focused on Paris, the day after the massacre in Beirut, is a sting that Syrians have known deeply over the past five years.

Take the example of Homs’ al-Zahra’a. Any Western media reporting that does cover the repeated terrorist bombings of the neighborhood does so in sectarian and biased lexicon.

The neighbourhood is described as: “an Alawite” area; a “government-held” area (AP).

But it is not described in terms of its reality, a district comprising a majority of Alawis, but also significant numbers of Christians, Sunnis, and Shia, many of whom are Internally Displaced Syrians who have moved to this “government held” area after fleeing the terrorists’ violence in their own home areas of Aleppo, Idlib, and elsehwere.

The depiction of al-Zahra’a merely as “an Alawite” district is in line with the NATO alliance’s sectarian project in Syria, a sectarianism which the vast majority of Syrians continue to refuse. Depicting al-Zahra’a merely as a “government held” area feeds into the Western narrative of obfuscating on the vast amount of support for the Syrian president, and further confuses readers as to the civilian suffering at each terrorist attack in al-Zahra’a.

This human suffering I saw on a December 15, 2015 visit to the neighbourhood, meeting with family members of the dead.

On the second story of what was the shell of his home, teenager Yousef Abdullah walked me through the ruins of the three story home housing two families, outside of which the car bombing had occurred just days prior. It was he who carried out the body of his 17 year old cousin, Caroline, crushed under rubble on the ground level.

The small clothing shop on ground level belonged to Anaya Abbas, a 50, killed in the bombing. Her son, Alaa al-Hamwi, had only days prior returned to see his family. One of the Syrian soldiers defending the Kuweires airbase against terrorist attacks, the al-Hamwi family suffered doubly, from worry over their long absent son, and now from the murder of Anaya Abbas.

Visiting al-Zahra’a one sees a vividly different face, a tormented face, than that which the corporate media allows. Many human stories abound, if journalists care to convey them. The sad hypocrisy is that when terrorist attacks occur on Western soil, these human stories are conveyed, ad naseum.

Homes opposite the terrorist car bombing blast in al-Zahra'a, Homs © Eva Bartlett

 

UN Selective on Terrorism

Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has repeatedly issued letters to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) requesting that such acts of terrorism in Syria be officially condemned, and that action be taken against those states supporting, financing, and enabling terrorism in Syria, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The letters specify that the terrorism being committed in Syria is not only by Da’esh (ISIS) but also by other terrorist groups, including “Jebhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, al-Jabha al-Islamiya, Jaish al-Fateh, Ahrar al-Cham,” and the so-called “Free Syrian Army”.

These letters are routinely ignored by UNSC and the Secretary-General, although they are based on the tenants of UN resolutions pertaining to terrorism.

It its latest letters, following the January 24, 2016 terror-bombings in al-Zahra’a, the Ministry noted the significance of their timing with respect to the upcoming Geneva talks.

Following the December 12, 2015 attacks, the Syrian Ministry sent their standard letters, requesting condemnation of the terrorism. The request was supported by Russia, with their own draft statement, which was rejected at the UNSC.

In the Face of Terror… You’re on Your Own

When the majority of the above-listed terror bombings have been claimed by Da’esh (ISIS), whom the West claims to be fighting, the glaring lack of condemnation of the Homs bombings, and the once-off condemnation of the Beirut bombings, reveals again the blatant hypocrisy of Western leaders.

In his November 13, 2015 address, President Obama, unsurprisingly, made no mention of either Beirut or Syria’s suffering under western-backed terrorists. Instead he called the Paris situation “heartbreaking” and uttered: “…we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”

Not to be outdone, Vice President Biden offered his “deepest condolences” and called the attacks “heartbreaking” “outrageous” and “tragic” and vowed, “We will look out for one another. We will stand together. We will never bow. We will never break. …We will respond. We will overcome. We will endure.”

In his November 21, 2015 address, Biden, in his opening remarks did actually mention the name “Beirut”, and commented, “in the face of terror we stand as one.” Yet, his address focused primarily on Paris—the “simple human acts” carried out by Parisians post Paris attack—and made no other mention of Beirut, nor the “simple human acts” carried out there. Like Beirut residents rushing to donate blood, post-attacks, for example.

Rather than addressing Beirut’s humanity, or even deigning to mention terror attacks carried out on Syrians throughout Syria, Biden used the rest of his address to talk about Syrian refugees and the “rigorous screening”, “fingerprinting” and background checks refugees go through to enter the US. In other words, he used his platform to negate true suffering in Syria, and instead subtly indoctrinate his audience into equating Syrians with terrorism.

Obama issued a proclamation “Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Paris” on November 15, 2015, ordering the US flag to be flown “at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts,”… and so on.

In a search of the Whitehouse.gov website, using key terms like: “Bourj Barajneh”, “Burj al-Barajneh”, “Beirut”, “Zahra”, “Zahraa”, “Homs” + bombing, I came up with just one match, aside from the above-mentioned November 21VP Biden’s uttering of the name “Beirut” before his ode to Paris.

 

The entry was a Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price, on the day of the Bourj al-Barajneh attacks. Neither Obama, nor Biden, deigned to personally make this statement.

One paragraph, the statement “condemns in the strongest terms today’s horrific terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed dozens and wounded hundreds more. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and other loved ones of those killed and injured in this violence. The United States will stand firm with the Government of Lebanon as it works to bring those responsible for this attack to justice….”

Compare the fiery rhetoric in the Paris statements with this meek Beirut statement. Little sorrow was expressed, nor unwavering solidarity, nor “fighting against extremism.”

Such is Western hypocrisy towards those murdered by Western-supported death squads.

RELATED:

The Terrorism We Support in Syria: A First-hand Account of the Use of Mortars against Civilians, Sep 11, 2014

University Hospital, Damascus: Meeting Victims of Western-backed Mortar and Rocket Terrorism, Mar 3, 2015

Media Black-Out on Arab Journalists and Civilians Beheaded in Syria by Western-Backed Mercenaries, Oct 26, 2014

“They want to start a religious war; we want to extinguish it” – Mufti of Syria, Jun 1, 2014

Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria, Oct 10, 2015, Dissident Voice (Global Research) (In Gaza)

Time to Grow Up about Syria Propaganda [RADIO interview]

An interview I did with Brendan Stone yesterday on his program, Unusual Sources. Their introduction:

“Guest: Eva Bartlett, Canadian journalist, who has visited Syria 4 times in the past three years.

Mainstream media reporting and NGO social-media posts about starvation in the Syrian village of Madaya are designed to elicit an emotional response and build support for military intervention in Syria. Reality on the ground there, and elsewhere in Syria is ignored.

Agitation about Madaya is propaganda in its purest form – telling part of the truth in order to obscure a larger picture. Falsehoods were definitely spread about Madaya, and citizens in the West need to start asking questions about the stories and reporting surrounding Madaya and other Syrian villages. That is, if we are serious about breaking the cycle of war propaganda justifying intervention in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.”

Listen HERE

RELATED LINKS:

*On Madaya:

-essential listening: Vanessa Beeley on UK Column

-Propaganda alert: Madaya media fabrications; recycled photos, Dissident Voice

-Not-Tweetworthy: UN Selectively Tweeting Syrian Villages, Ignores Foua, Kafarya, Nubl, Zahara Besieged by US Sponsored Terrorists, Global Research

-“Those who are besieged are all the 23 million Syrians”: Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari on Madaya, Kafarya, Foua, Zabadani, Syria, In Gaza

*On Foua and Kafarya:

-Untold Suffering in Foua and Kafarya, Counter Punch

-Part 2 on Foua and Kafarya, Counter Punch

-Kafarya & Foua Left Out in the Cold by UN, The Wall Will Fall

*On Yarmouk:

-YARMOUK: understanding the situation, In Gaza

-Who Are the Starving and Besieged Residents of Yarmouk and Why Are They There?, Dissident Voice

-Stealing Palestine: Who dragged Palestinians into Syria’s conflict?, Russia Today

*Related:

“Human Rights” front groups (“Humanitarian Interventionalists”) warring on Syria, In Gaza

*

Note: the Paris attacks were actually one day AFTER the Bourj al-Barajneh bombings… and yet, in the corporate media, no *fair* un-lexiconed coverage of the suffering of Beirut residents due to these terrorist attacks.

Not-Tweetworthy: UN selectively tweeting, ignores Foua, Kafarya, Nubl, Zahara

tweet ratio

-Eva Bartlett, Global Research

On December 28, 2015, the United Nation’s OCHA made its first express Twitter mention of two northern Syrian villages, al-Foua and Kafarya (also transliterated as Kafraya).

first mentionThe belated December mention is in spite of the fact that the two villages of around 30,000 people have been locked under siege by terrorist factions Jebhat al-Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria), Jaysh al-Fattah (the so-called “Army of Conquest”), and Ahrar al-Sham (Liberation of the Levant Movement), among other terrorist factions, since March 2015. The siege has meant that the isolated villages have had limited to no access to food and medical supplies since then. Additionally, terrorists have been daily firing rockets, mortars and hell cannons at the villages, killing and maiming residents, destroying homes and infrastructure.

In October, 2015, the ICRC reported that al-Foua and Kafarya were among several areas to receive humanitarian assistance.

OCHA’s tweets around that time made no specific mention of al-Foua and Kafarya, instead simple tweeting: “UN and partners deliver critical relief supplies to besieged areas of Syria.”

ocha21

The tweet-linked UN report, however, does mention at least mention the two villages by name, although it does not at all mention the terrorists’ bombings of the villages, nor the immensely dire situation there.

This in spite of the fact that the UN did acknowledge, back in March 2015, that al-Foua and Kafarya had just been besieged. Yacoub el-Hillo, the UN Resident Coordinator for Syria, himself in a March 30, 2015 statement, declared:

I am gravely concerned by the ongoing fighting taking place in Idleb governorate and its possible impact on hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Hillo apparently did not sustain his concern.
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Selma village: “Finally, after so many years, and so many martyred Syrian Arab Army soldiers, and civilians, we have victory.”

salma map1

Following are the words of a friend in Syria, on the recently-liberated Syrian village of Selma (also spelled Salma), with news reports on its liberation at bottom. This is a very personal account of Selma and the recent history of its occupation by terrorist forces, as well as some interesting history on the region:

“Selma is a very small village on the Turkish-Syrian border, just 1 hour drive North East from Latakia. With good hiking shoes you could walk to Turkey, and there was never any border fence, or guards or anything to prevent the free movement between Syria and Turkey at the location.

The local, native population of Selma numbered in the dozens. They were mainly Syrian citizens of Kurdish ancestry. They were not Turkman. Selma was strictly Sunni Muslim. Selma was not a famous place, or even a pretty place, or even a scenic place. Selma’s claim to fame was the fact it got cool evening breezes, coming in from the North and East, during the HOT and HUMID summers in Latakia (June-October).

There is a village close to Selma called Slounfa. Slounfa is higher elevation, and is even colder, but the native population are Alawi. By car it is a 15 minute drive from Slounfa to Selma. Slounfa was never in the hands of the rebels. Slounfa is a mountain resort, of the type that you find in Lebanon. Stone houses, oak trees, cedar trees, church and mosque. Slounfa’s claim to fame was also the cold evening air temperature all summer, and snow in winter, because of the high elevation. But, Slounfa is pretty, scenic and every panorama is a beautiful picture postcard scene. Selma never had the beauty, but had some of the cool temperatures during summer, and no winter snow.

Slounfa has summer house, summer cottages, and summer palaces. Slounfa’s resort status dates back to Ottoman days, and the French occupation of 1920-1946 saw added resort building, and the French built a CASINO, not meaning gambling, but a resort hotel with musical (orchestra and singer) facility. Some of the singing legends of the Arab world did perform in Slounfa, even as early and the 1940’s and onward.

Selma was the ugly ‘sister’ to Slounfa. However, during the period of 1990-2011 a steady real estate development went on there. People from Aleppo and Latakia and other places (including Saudi Arabians and Qataris) built homes, apartments and palaces there. Selma, just like Slounfa, is full to capacity in summer, and deserted in winter. Both places were “summer-use-only”.

When the terrorists became mobilized and organized in 2011, they quickly set up head quarters in Selma. They were some Syrians, and many foreigners. The Australian cleric Sheikh Fedaa Majzoub , who was born in Latakia, set up shop in Selma, and his brother was killed fighting not far from there. Sheikh Fedaa was identified as one of those involved in the Ballouta massacre in August 2013, which kidnapped 100 small children, and held them underground in Selma. 9 months later 44 of the 100 were released, and the remaining are either dead, or still in Selma? Soon we will know….
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“Those who are besieged are all the 23 million Syrians”: Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari on Madaya, Kafarya, Foua, Zabadani, Syria.

Bashar-al-Jaafari*Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari (image from Syrianews.cc)

..It’s about 23 million Syrians besieged, by economic sanctions, by terrorists crossing from Turkey, from Jordan, from Lebanon, from Iraq. This is the reality. The whole Syrian people are besieged.”

 

Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari, from 3:05:

“Certain Security Countil members are ignoring the root causes of the humanitarian suffering in Syria, which are the terrorist acts committed by ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, al-Fateh army, and the Islamic Front, and other affiliated terrorist groups.

…Whenever the Syrian army re-takes an area from terrorist groups, or the Syrian side reaches a reconciliation agreement the humanitarian situation in such areas improves immediately.

The Syrian government has already requested, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from the office of resident coordinator of the United Nations in Syria, by its note #3746, dated 27th December, 27 December, 2015, to URGENTLY deliver humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance and fuel, to al-‪#‎Foua‬ and ‪#‎Kafraya‬, in the governorate of Idlib, and to ‪#‎Madaya‬, in the governorate of Damascus countryside.

We would like to highlight that the humanitarian assistance sent to Madaya in mid-October was sufficient for two months. And this testimony was corroborated by the representative of the ICRC in Syria a few days ago.

So there is no shortage of humanitarian assistance in Madaya.
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Propaganda alert: Madaya media fabrications; recycled photos

 

“I live in Tayr Filsey, not Madaya, and I am fine.” –Marianna Mazeh; ‘Starving Syria child’ revealed as south Lebanon girl (article below)

-Eva Bartlett, Dissident Voice

This is a brief post with the intent of merely alerting people to the latest campaign to demonize the Syrian government and army, and also at the same time to depict the terrorists inhabiting Madaya as somehow noble or in the right… as somehow not the human shielding terrorists that they in fact are. Madaya is the new Yarmouk. [See this post regarding the lies and propanda that were put forth in the exact same manipulative manner on Yarmouk previously. I will be writing an update on Yarmouk, which I visited in December 2015 soon.]

**UPDATE: see RT journalist on the ground now in Madaya updates on Twitter: Murad Gazdiev https://twitter.com/MuradoRT

(Jan 11, 2015)

-“More on : military sent 42 tons of food there on 27 november. All of it was seized by Islamist rebels; the are reselling aid”

-” #madaya civilians say rebels charged 100,000 SP ($250) for kilogram of rice”

-“Many #madaya civilians weeping for joy at finally leaving this place. Say #ISIS in town, fight together with rebels”

-“Fleeing #madaya civilians blame rebels for cruelty, theft..”

-“About two dozen journalists here. Can’t see any Western press. Strange, given how worried they were about #madaya”

See also his RT report, which includes: “Just passed by first aid trucks bound for . Water&flour. Judging by lack of markings, this is govt aid …Another fully loadef govt food aid truck going in to . Looks like rice or flour. …”
Jan 11 updates include:

Madaya Basics:

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*image from Fars News

-village in hills NW of Damascus, near the Lebanese border

-occupied for many months by approximately 600 terrorists (60% Ahrar al-Sham, 30% Jebhat al-Nusra, and 10% “FSA”) hold the village (according to a recent Hezbollah statement)

-residents number approximately 23,000, not the 40,000 being reported in MSM and social media (the same trick of inflating the numbers was used in the propaganda campaign on Yarmouk last year) (according to the Hezbollah statement)

-on Oct 18, 2015, the Red Cross delivered supplies to Madaya. ICRC statement here: (ICRC cannot confirm info being published re Madaya. ICRC was, however, able to bring medical and food supplies to Madaya, Zabadani, Foua and Kafarya in mid-October, 2015. ICRC concerned also very much about Foua and Kafarya, “where the people are telling us the same thing: they are lacking food, they have not been eating proper meals for months, they lack medicine…”)
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Christmas Celebrated in Terror-Ravaged Syria

Martyrs’ Tree: paying respect to martyred soldiers from the East Gate neighbourhood of Damascus.

Martyrs’ Tree: paying respect to martyred soldiers from the East Gate neighbourhood of Damascus.

Christmas trees, carols, church services, and the resilience of the human heart

Due to corporate media’s misrepresentation of Syria, some may be surprised to know that Syrians—suffering terribly under nearly five years of the foreign war on their country—are also celebrating Christmas from Damascus to Homs to Aleppo. Glittering displays, street Santas, choirs singing carols and people singing Jingle Bells, and tacky, exuberant Christmas parades are not unique to the West.

However, most Syrians I have met who are celebrating any religion’s holy day do so with heavy hearts—the loss of loved ones to NATO’s terrorists dampens festive spirits. But they also celebrate with a determination not to be cowed into submission or nonexistence, and not to allow their children to forget traditions.

Re-visiting Syria last week, I spoke with Syrians about Christmas preparations and the situation in Syria.  I visited a number of churches in Damascus and Homs. Although the unholy war on Syria persists, some of the areas ravaged by the NATO/Zionist/Gulf’s death squads but secured by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) are coming back to life.

Homs: Celebrations After So Much Sorrow

Rather than home to a “revolution” Homs was home to an infiltration of the most sadistic terrorists, who (as elsewhere in Syria) over their unwanted two plus year-stay not only killed, maimed and stole from Homs residents, but also targeted, and in many cases destroyed, Christian heritage and relics, including many churches in the Old City.

When I visited in June 2014, after the terrorists had been extracted from most of Homs, the destruction and vandalism I saw were immense. Even back then, as soon as the terrorists were gone, Old City residents were already returning in trickles to begin the cleanup and think about re-building their lives.

Now, a year-and-a-half later, while immense reconstruction remains, there was a significant improvement. I saw new shops opened, and saw homes, stores, streets, and churches decorated in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas lights dangled over Old City lanes and in church courtyards. A friend from Homs later sent me photos of the streets lit up at night, and of the once-burned St. Mary’s Church (Um al-Zinnar) now repaired and decorated, and filled with worshippers, a youth choir and band.

At the Old City’s Jesuit Church, new portraits of Dutch priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, assassinated in April 2014 by the West’s “moderate” terrorists. The church also had a simple Christmas tree and home-made nativity scene, the grotto walls of which were made of crumpled brown paper.

Two well-known restaurants, which suffered differing degrees of destruction, have been re-opened. Beit al-Agha, greatly-damaged by the terrorists, is now coming back to life, although repairs are still needed. Al-Bustan restaurant, which was completely ravaged, is fully re-built and open to customers. Photos from al-Hamidiya Community Facebook page show a packed restaurant during Christmas, and dancing at night. The page shows celebrations in the different churches and streets of old Homs.

(*last photo is from internet )

In Saha al-Majaa, an Old City square, I saw six locals adding finishing touches to the Christmas tree they’d crafted using scavenged and bought materials. In a nearby room, full-size nativity scene figures, made of sponge and cloth and other basic materials were stored until the display went up. Neighbourhood residents had chipped in for fabric, bought from Tartous.

“Come, tomorrow at 5 pm and you’ll see the finished display,” I was invited, but didn’t have the chance to get back. However, photos on social media show their creative efforts have paid off: in this square where despair was once deep, hope is flourishing anew.
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