conflict zones, latest, Syria

“Are there ordinary people living in Syria?”

by KJaquesson

Just days before Kari Jaquesson traveled to Syria, she told a a woman she wanted to give a voice to ordinary Syrians. The woman exclaimed “Ordinary People? Are there ordinary people living in Syria??” Here, Kari reminds us that there are.

Two women, both mothers, from two different countries, one in war, one in peace, but with much in common – not least the love of our children and the fear all mothers have for something to happen to the children.

Since the start of the war against Syria, newspapers and television channels have been unequivocally conveying dramatic images and films from Syria. The reoccurring meme is the so called «regime»‘s bombing of areas besieged by terrorists, usually called «rebel forces» or «opposition forces» in our media. The attacks of terrorists against the civilian population in non-besieged areas have hardly been discussed, despite the fact that these violent gangs have been posting videos on the internet, bragging as they perform shooting of missils, torture and cruel executions.

Thousands killed and injured by terrorists
Terrorists in the besieged areas have not only committed cruelties against the civilians in their own enclaves, the people in cities like Damascus and Aleppo have lived in constant fear of terrorist attacks and tens of thousands have been severely injured or killed in Damascus alone.

The atmosphere has changed
I noticed a big difference in the mood in Damascus since I visited last year . But even now, battles are being fought. The battle of Yarmouk, south of the city is ongoing. Bombers and artillery sounded day and night, but no one showed any signs of being afraid of it, people were just happy and relieved to get rid of ISIS from the suburbs of the capital.

Last year, it was surprisingly lively at restaurants and in the streets, as it is now. The noticeable difference is that there are fewer checkpoints. After east-Ghouta on the outskirts of the city was liberated from terrorists, the mortar attacks have all but ended. But there are still some attacks. During my stay, several people were killed and even more injured by mortar attacks. One can wonder what the terrorists expect to achieve with these attacks, but there is no point in it. They are mercenaries who do what they are told. As long as they are being paid, they continue to kill.

Are there ordinary people living in Syria?
Just days before I traveled to Syria, I told a lady that I wanted to give a voice to ordinary Syrians. She exclaimed:

Ordinary People? Are there ordinary people living in Syria?

I can not blame her. The typical image we get in the media is men running towards the camera, with babies in their arms, in ruins, with dust and smoke in the air. More than twenty million people live in Syria, ordinary people who want nothing but to live their everyday lives and who manage as well as they can in a country that has been under attack from several countries’ military in addition to the worst terrorists the world has seen.

I met many ordinary people on the six-day journey I have just returned from. I experienced a lot and met many. In the days to come I will tell about some of them and convey what they had to tell. It is the ordinary people who pay the highest price in war.

Huda lives in Damascus
Huda Ibrahim is an English teacher. Before the terrorists sieged the area, she was also teaching in Ghouta, an area we have heard a lot about lately because of an alleged gas attack. She is married and has two daughters, 14 and 16 years old. Before the war she rented out rooms for tourists and she is looking forward to more tourists coming back to Syria. In 2010, there were over eight million foreign tourists visiting the country.

“Life before was perfect,” she says, “everything was cheap. Now everything is expensive, we must choose carefully what we can buy.”

She invited me for lunch. Bulgur and lentils is nice, Huda explains that meat is expensive now. For me the meal is perfect, this is the food I prefer. After dinner, sweet tea is served.

Two women, both mothers, from two different countries, one in war, one in peace, but with much in common – not least the love of our children and the fear all mothers have for something to happen to the children.

One window in the living room is covered with cardboard and tape. When it got smashed a second time after a mortar attack, she decided to wait for peace before replacing it again.

“I saw my neighbour lying here, killed by a mortar.”
Damascus has been under constant attack from terrorists in the besieged areas around the city. Over 10,000 people have been killed by mortar attacks, at least 30,000 have been injured for life. It is nearly impossible to understand how paralysed fear can make a person. Everything is affected by fear; immune system, short-term memory, appetite, sleep, everything is being impacted. The mental terror is not visible, but the damage it has caused will take time to heal, if it ever will.

Huda experienced that a friend who had been visiting came back, her head covered in blood. When she went out to get her friend to the hospital, they met a horrific sight – the neighbour lay dead outside his door, in front of his mother and his child. This is what the people of Damascus have lived under, day in and day out, for seven years.

Here is the movie where she tells me about this day:

Huda believes the war is over
A sign that safety returns: Huda’s daughters are going on a school trip for the first time in seven years. It has not been possible before because of sniper and rocket attacks.

Here, Huda tells about life before and under the crisis, and about hope for the future.

First published at Kari Angelique Jaquesson


  1. In all situations, people try and achieve a level of normality, I hope these people experience a better situation in the near future.

  2. Lise Doucet was on Breakfast as I was on my way out the door: publicising her egregious propaganda piece starting tonight. How do I know it will be an egregious propaganda piece before it is aired? Because it was made by Doucet and the BBC. It sounds like it will be the antithesis of this wonderful piece by Kari …telling the human story of those who have been bombed and gassed by Assad: so a terrorist propaganda piece then. One bit I did catch was about how ordinary Syrians, who had a rich and varied future before them, had been let down by the international community …Obama’s “red line” that was crossed with no repercussions. So an egregious terrorist propaganda piece using human emotional sympathy for those she casts as victims, leveraging toward regime change (“what will be the transition [to democracy] now? Doucet asked”) – all while Syria is trying to normalise and recover …and I haven’t even seen it yet. Quite how Doucet could so monstrously invert the truth for the purposes of perpetuating the war I’m not entirely sure …but honesty, integrity and journalism have nothing to do with it.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      I’d leave Doucet to God, but I’m agnostic, so I’m not too hopeful that she will get her just desserts-in this world or the next.

      • And there is the previous filmed discussion she had with local Syrians who commendably and vociferously confronted her (in a diplomatic way) in the streets of Damascus to complain about the way the West behaves towards Assad and Syria. Even then, she was so patronising to the ‘poor, deluded fools’ and was still desperate to convince the viewers that THEY were wrong in their perception of their own country.
        When I saw the clips publicising this documentary series (presumably two or three programmes) I too had a good idea what we should expect to see but have decided to watch as much as I can tolerate without blowing a fuse, just to keep up with the latest propaganda piece.

        • reinertorheit says

          [[ THEY were wrong in their perception of their own country. ]]

          Of course!

          Because the whole ethos behind the BBC is that jolly good chaps and chappesses from Roedean or Winchester know a blessed sight more – after 3 days filming Johnny Foreigner in his own locale – than the bally foreigner knows about his own country after a lifetime’s experience. The natural biological superiority of Nigel or Daphne gives them a piercing insight into the ghastly state of affairs in Whatyamaycallit – before a swift G&T in the Business Class Lounge and then boarding BA8722 back to good old blighty.

          “Nations shall harken unto Britain”, as Lord Reith so nearly put it.

    • Hyxas says

      Doucet the mi(six) agent with the most irritating accent ever.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        I suppose the Yanks think she is Sleaze Douchette.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        The whole region from the Levant to India will be uninhabitable due to anthropogenic climate destabilisation within a few decades. The suffering has only just begun.

  3. We are on the wrong side in Syria.
    We have always been on the wrong side, because it is the side that cares only about oil and US hegemony.
    Assad is ruling a country with little or no tradition of democracy, and surrounded by the forces of radical Islam. Yet the West has the audacity to castigate him for being a dictator, when all he wants is peace.
    Every time that looks like happening, the West intervenes on some spurious pretext, because Syrian oil could become Russian oil. The geopolitical psychopathy and hypocrisy is bad enough….but the mendacity is breathtaking:

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      When, John, was the West ever on right side? The ‘Right’ side, of course, but it’s always the morally wrong side.

    • Big B says

      My understanding is that Syrian oil isn’t worth fighting over. It is heavy, viscous and sulphurous and needs a lot of refining. It is also well past peak. However, it still is valuable to the Syrian economy. Ergo: occupation of the oil and gas fields is about deprivation and attrition to further the dependence on external aid (to ideally be supplied by Western corporate re-constructors). Russian, Iranian (not sure whether neocon besieged Venezuela can still afford to help) rebuilding of the decimated oil and gas sector is as much an act of mercy as a viable commercial venture. The real asset, to rival the Leviathan and Aphrodite gas fields could be offshore in the Levantine Basin. I suspect Israel and Noble Energy have designs on that, and they do not include sharing the profits to foster Syrian reconstruction and economic development.

  4. MichaelK says

    It’s part of the liberal set of myths that we care deeply about ordinary people in Syria and want to help them. That’s nonsense. Our elite only ‘care’ about ordinary people to the extent that they serve our purposes, which is to use their suffering selectively to justify our regime change policy for their country.

    It’s striking how little interest we, that is our journalists, show for ordinary people in Syria once they aren’t living under the Islamist yoke, virtual prisoners in their own towns and cities. The moment these ordinary people are liberated and can talk freely, we decided they’ve got nothing to say or stories to tell; how odd. Even when the Russians bring ordinary people to Europe, which makes the journalists job even easier, they’re not interested. Strangely, it’s only when they are under the control of the Islamists that we show any interest in them; which is a disgrace.

  5. It would perhaps make a good and hard hitting film to have these ordinary citizens give a testimony stating they are supporters of the Syrian state counter-posed against videos taken from the social media accounts of the mercenary cunts we fund. Such dichotomy would be hard to ignore.

    • milosevic says

      mercenary cunts

      While disparaging those who rightly deserve to be disparaged, such as the Wahabi scum sent by the CIA and Israel to destroy Syria, consider using vocabulary which doesn’t simultaneously disparage women.

      Claims that this is a traditional usage (as it may well be) which doesn’t have that effect, are extremely non-credible. If comparing X to Y is intended to bring X into contempt, that necessarily implies that Y is already perceived as contemptible.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        ‘Pricks’ really seems more appropriate.

      • I apologise if this is so perceived. As a Scot the word is not gender specific unless contextualized as such. It is not even always an insult. In the same way that a Greek male would greet his friend “yaso malaka ” (Hi wanker), so Scots often do the same with the C word, especially from working class like me. In the way I used it I wanted the punch the word brings to illustrate my intense disgust.

        • Molly says

          Thanks for explaining, but since @ 50% of readers are female, and about 5% max are Scot, it would be much appreciated to not use words that are horrible slurs (and often screamed before you have to run for your life) in other, more violent countries (i.e. amerikkka).

          • I appreciate what you say, truly I do. However I should not have to pick and choose what words I use because of how others would use the word. Nor should I do so because others are incapable or unwilling to see context as the primary arbitrator of whether the word is offensive or not. Quite apart from the fact that nobody but nobody has the right to not be offended the effort to censor the use of any word is still censorship and is an affront to freedom of expression. Something this site knows all about since it only exists due the destruction of the ability to exersise freedom of speech. Additionally the arbitrator of the right to use or not any word or term is not %age of population. I would never make an attack on any person or group based on gender, race or any other defining characteristic of that nature not because of political correctness but because I hold no such prejudices. And I politely suggest if you find it offensive then it is you, not I, that misses the point.

  6. Reblogged this on circusbuoy and commented:

    I’m just ashamed. Here are people just trying to live an ordinary life.

    And then the screwed up West, with their Neo-Con/Zionist aggression, trying to destroy the very good of the people, let loose their missiles.

  7. Captain Kemlo says

    I’m just ashamed. Here are people just trying to live an ordinary life.

    And then the screwed up West, with their Neo-Con/Zionist aggression, trying to destroy the very good of the people, let loose their missiles.

    Deeply ashamed.

  8. vexarb says

    You want ordinary people? We don’t come more ordinary than this:

    Workers attending May Day speeches at the Works, on International Workers Day celebrations under auspices of the General Trade Unions Council Syria. I regret to see our traditional Hammer and Sickle replaced by inedible Hammer and Spanner. And too many suits on the platform. Call me old fashioned but I say, Up the Workers!

    • milosevic says

      Sickles are edible?

      Presumably the symbol in question was chosen to reflect the social conditions in the early Soviet Union, where peasants outnumbered industrial workers by more than ten to one.

      Perhaps in less economically backward environments, other symbols were thought to be more relevant and relatable. How many people now living have ever seen a real sickle, even in a country like Syria?

      • Ray Raven says

        I’m sure lots of people in the world have seen a bi-sickle and / or a moto-sickle. Both are real sickles, no ?

      • @Milosevic. Have you read the book, Food First? Had it handed down to to me from my daughter at Cambridge. It rearranged my molecules. If you cannot find the book, try Ramin Mazeheri’s piece on the significance of Mao’s push to redress the balance of political power between the urbanites and the people who feed the world.

        Thanks for that lovely picture: a sickle on a globe wreathed in sheaves of corn. I prefer a scythe myself but a spanner is useless — except to adjust the mechanical harvester.

  9. summitflyer says

    Thank you Kari for this report .It is so good to see some positive feelings on the part of the Syrian people .It makes me so mad to see that this was all caused by Western criminal interests .
    My heart is with the Syrian people.

  10. Thank you, Kari, for your generous courage and honest reporting. Both are sorely needed in today’s messed up world.

    Reports like yours move me deeply. It is so important to connect to our brothers’ and sisters’ wildly differing experiences across the world, to at least begin to understand the day-to-day reality of life on foreign soils. It is the perfect foil for the endless sensationalism of the mass media.

  11. Anandamide says

    Thank you… We need to keep on hearing the voices of the people living amidst the battlefields.

    Saluting your courage for going there so as to offer this report.

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