Idlib – Reportage from the Last Front in Syria

Andre Vltchek

For a while, all the guns have fallen silent.

I am near Idlib, the last stronghold of the terrorists in Syria. The area where the deadliest anti-government fighters, most of them injected into Syria from Turkey, with Saudi, Qatari and Western ‘help’, are literally holed up, ready for the final showdown.

Just yesterday, mortars were falling on villages near the invisible frontline, separating government troops and the terrorist forces of Al Nusra Front. The day before yesterday, two explosions rocked the earth, only a couple of meters from where we are now standing.

They call it a ceasefire. But it’s not. It is one-sided. To be more precise: the Syrian army is waiting, patiently. Its cannons are pointing towards the positions of the enemy, but the orders from Damascus are clear: do not fire.

The enemy has no scruples. It provokes, endlessly. It fires and bombs, indiscriminately. It kills. Along the frontline, thousands of houses are already ruined. Nothing gets spared: residential districts, sport gymnasiums, even bakeries. There is an established routine: assaults by the terrorists, rescue operations organized by Syrian armed forces (SAA – Syrian Arab Army) and Syrian National Defense Forces, then immediate rebuilding of the damage.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian people have lost their lives in this war. Millions had to leave their homeland. Millions have been internally displaced. For many, the conflict became a routine. Rescue operations became routine. Rebuilding tasks became routine, too.

Now, it is clear that the final victory is near. Syria survived the worse. It is still bleeding, but most of its territories are beginning to heal. People are slowly returning home, from Lebanon and Turkey, from Germany and elsewhere. They go through rubble – their former homes. They sit down and cry. Then, they get up and start rebuilding. That’s in other parts of the country: Duma, Homs, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zur.

But in the villages and towns north of Hama and towards Idlib, the war is far from being over.

In the town of Squalbiah, Commander Nabel Al-Abdallah of the National Defense Forces (NDF) explained to me:

SAA could easily use force and win militarily; it could take Idlib. But the SAA operates under command of President Assad, who believes in negotiations. If we take the city now, there would be huge casualties.”


The situation is not as simple, as we would like it to be. Victory may be near, but the West is not giving up, nor is Turkey. There are still pockets that are held by the US and French troops, and around Idlib (including Manbij), a large area is still controlled by the terrorists, who were transported here from all corners of Syria, under the Russian-sponsored agreement.

And there is more to it: My sources in Syria shared the latest:

Some 4 months ago, the ’new ISIS’ appeared in the south of Idlib, not far from where we are right now. They were injected into Syria by the Turks. They were wearing brand new uniforms, white long dresses. Before, they were recognizable by black or gray outfits – ‘Afghan-style’. They now call themselves ‘Hurras Aldeen’, or ‘The Guardians of Religion’. Why? In order for the United States, and the West in general, to continue to support them. The ISIS are officially on the list of the terrorist organizations’, but this new ‘brand’ is not.”

I ask Commander Nabel Al-Abdallah, what the West really wants? He replies, immediately:

The West wants terrorism to spread to Russia and China. Many terrorists work and fight directly for the interests of the United States.

We need to take care of the innocent civilians. But we also have to find the solution, very quickly. If we fail, terrorism will spread all around the world.”

We sit in the Commander’s provisory headquarters, having a quick cup of tea, before moving to the frontline.

He wants to say something. He thinks, how. It is not easy. Nothing is easy under the circumstances, but he tries, and what he utters makes sense:

If we don’t have solution, soon, terrorists will damage the world. Our problems are not just the ISIS, but above all, the ideology that they represent. They use Islam, they say that they fight in the name of Islam, but they are backed by the United States. And here, the SAA, our military and our defense forces, are fighting for the world, not just for Syria.”

We embrace and I go. His men drive me in a military vehicle to the outskirts of As Suqaylabiyah (also known as Squalbiah). From there, I photograph a hospital and the positions of Al Nusra Front. They are there, right in front of me, just a couple of hundreds of meters.

I am told that I am like a sitting duck, exposed. I work fast. Luckily, today the terrorists are not in the mood for shooting.

Before returning to the vehicle, I try to imagine how life must be there, under Al Nusra Front or the ISIS occupation.

From the hill where I stand, the entire area looks green, fertile and immensely beautiful. But I know, I clearly understand that it is hell on earth for those who live in those houses down below; in the villages and towns controlled by some of the most brutal terrorists on earth.

I also know that, these terrorist monsters are here on foreign orders, trying to destroy Syria, simply because its government and people have been refusing to succumb to the Western imperialist dictates.

Here, it is not only about theory. The lives of millions have been already destroyed. Here it is all concrete and practical – it is reality.

We can hear explosions, in a distance. The war may be over in Damascus, but not here. Not here, yet.


My friend Yamen is from the city of Salamiyah, some 50 kilometers from Hama. Only recently the area around his home town was liberated from the extremist groups.

Twenty kilometers west from Salamiyah lies the predominantly Ismaili village of Al Kafat, which used to be surrounded by both Al-Nusra Front and the ISIS.

Mr. Abdullah, President of local Ismaili Council, recalls the horrors which his fellow citizens had to endure:

In the past, we had two car bomb explosions here. In January 2014, 19 people were killed, 40 houses totally destroyed and 300 damaged. Fighting was only 200 meters away from here. Both Al-Nusra Front and ISIS surrounded the village, and were cooperating. We are very close to one of the main roads, so for the terrorists, it was an extremely important strategic position. This entire area was finally liberated only in January 2018.”

Whom do they blame?

Mr. Abdullah does not hesitate:

Saudis, Turks, the USA, Europe, Qatar…”

We walk through the village. Some homes are still lying in ruins, but most of them have at least been partially restored. On the walls and above several shops, I can see the portrait of a beautiful young woman, who was killed during one of the terrorist assaults. 65 villagers were slaughtered, in total. Before the war, the population of the village was 3,500, but traumatized and impoverished by war, many decided to leave and now only 2,500 inhabitants live here, cultivating olive trees, herding sheep and cows.

Before my visit here, I was told that education played an extremely important role in defending this place, and in keeping morale high during the darkest days of combat and crises. Mr. Abdullah readily confirmed it:

The human brain has the capacity to solve problems, and to defuse crises. During a war like this, education is extremely important. Or more precisely, it is mainly about learning, not only about education. Al-Nusra and ISIS – they are synonymous with ignorance. If your brain is strong, it easily defeats ignorance. I think we succeeded here. And look now: this poor village has at this moment 103 students attending universities, all over Syria.”

As we drive on, east, large portraits of a brother of my friend Yamen decorate many military posts. He was one of the legendary commanders here, but was killed in 2017.

Then I see a castle: monstrous, more than two millennia old, overlooking the city of Salamiyah. There are green fields all around, so much beauty, in all the corners of Syria.

“Come back and visit all these marvels when the war is over,” someone around me jokes.

I don’t see it as a joke.

“I will,” I think. “I definitely will”. But we have to win, and win very soon, as soon as possible! To make sure that nothing else goes up in flames.


I drop my bag in at a local inn in Salamiyah, and ask my comrades to drive me on, further east. I want to see, to feel how life was under ISIS, and how it is now.

There are ruins, all around us. I saw plenty of terrible urban ruins during my previous visit: all around Homs and the outskirts of Damascus.

Here I see rural ruins, in their own way as horrifying as those scarring all the major cities of Syria.

This entire area had recently been a frontline. Or it was screaming in the hands of the terrorist groups, mainly ISIS.

Now it is a minefield. The road is cleared, but not the fields; not the remains of the villages.

I photograph a tank that used to belong to the ISIS; burned and badly damaged. It is an old Soviet tank, which used to belong to the Syrian army. It was captured by the ISIS, and then destroyed by either the SAA or a Russian airplane. Next to the tank – a chicken farm burned to the ground.

The Lieutenant, who is accompanying me, goes on, monotonously, with his grizzly account:

“Today, outside Salamiyeh, 8 people were killed by the landmines.”

We leave the vehicle, and walk slowly down the road, which is full of craters.

Suddenly, the Lieutenant stops without any warning:

“And here, my cousin was killed by another mine.”


We reach Hardaneh Village, but almost no one is left here. There are ruins everywhere. Before – 500 people lived here, now only 30. This is where heavy fighting against the ISIS took place. 13 local people were killed, 21 soldiers ‘martyred’. Other civilians were forced to leave.

Mr. Mohammad Ahmad Jobur is the local administrator (el muchtar), 80 years old:

First, we fought ISIS, but they overwhelmed us. Most of us had to leave. Now some of us returned, but only few…Yes, now we have electricity; at least 3 hours a day, and our children can go to school. The old school was destroyed by the ISIS, so kids are now collected and taken to a bigger town for education. Every villager wants to come back, but most of the families have no money to rebuild their houses and farms. The government made a list of the people whose dwellings were destroyed. They will get help, but help will be distributed gradually, stage by stage.”

Naturally: almost the entire country lies in ruins.

Are villagers optimistic about the future?

Yes, very optimistic,” declares the village chief. “If we get help, if we can rebuild, we will all come back.”

But then, they show me the water wells, destroyed by the ISIS.

It is all smiles through tears. So far only 30 have come back. How many will come home this year?

I asked the chief what the main aim of the ISIS was?

No aim, no logic. ISIS was created by the West. They tried to destroy everything, this village, this area, this entire country. They made no sense… they do not think like us… they only brought destruction.”


Soha, a village even further east, a place where men, women and children were forced to live under the ISIS.

I am invited into a traditional house. People sit in a circle. Several younger women are hiding their faces, not wanting to be photographed. I can only guess why. Others don’t care. What happened here; what horrors took place? Nobody will pronounce it all.

This is a traditional village inhabited by a local tribe; very conservative.

Testimonies begin to flow:

“First, they banned us from smoking, and shaving. Women had to cover their faces and feet; they had to wear black… Strict rules were imposed… education was banned. The ISIS created terrible prisons… They were often beating us with rubber hoses, in public. Some people were beheaded. Severed heads were exhibited above the main square.”

“When ISIS arrived, they brought with them their slaves – kidnapped people from Raqqah. Some women got stoned in public, alive. Other women were thrown to their death from the roofs and from other high places. They were amputating hands… Various women were forced to marry ISIS fighters…”

An uncomfortable silence followed, before the topic got changed.

They killed 2 men from this village…”

Some say more, many more.

Several youngsters joined the ISIS. 3 or 4… ISIS would pay $200 to each new combatant who subscribed. And of course, they were promising heaven…

In one of the villages, I am shown a big rusty cage for ‘infidels’ and “sinners”. People were locked in there like wild animals, and kept exposed, in the open.

I see the destroyed ‘police’ building of the ISIS. At one point I am offered some papers – documents – which are just scattered all over the floor. I don’t want to take any with me, not even as a ‘souvenir’.

Testimonies continue to flow:

They were beheading people for being in possession of mobile phones… Local villagers were disappearing… they were kidnapped…”

At some point, I have to halt this flow of testimonies. I can hardly process all that is being said. People are shouting over each other. One day, someone should take it all down, to record it, to file it. I do what I can, but I realize that it is not enough. It is never enough. The scale of the tragedy is too great.

By now it is getting dark… and then it is dark. I have to return to Salamiyeh, to rest a bit; to sleep for a few hours, and then to return to the frontline, where both the Syrian and Russian soldiers are bravely facing the enemy. Where they are doing all that is humanly possible to prevent those gangsters sponsored by the West and their allies, from returning to the already liberated areas of the country.

But before I fall asleep, I recall; I am haunted by the image of a little girl who survived the occupation of her village by the ISIS. She stood resting her back against the wall. She looked at me for a while, then lifted her hands and moved her fingers quickly across her throat.


The next day, the Commander of the National Defense Forces in Muhradah, Simon Al Wakel, drives me all around the city and the outskirts, Kalashnikov resting next to his seat. It is a quick and matter-of-fact ‘tour’:

This is where the mortars landed two days ago, there is a power plant which was liberated from the terrorists, and this is a huge gymnasium attacked by the terrorists simply because they hate that our girls excel in volleyball and basketball.”

We talk to locals. Commander Simon gets stopped in the middle of the streets, embraced by total strangers, kissed on both cheeks.

“I have been targeted more than 60 times,” he tells me. One of his former cars is rotting at a remote parking lot, after it was hit and burned by the terrorists. He shrugs his shoulders: “Russians and Turks negotiated the ceasefire, but obviously, terrorists do not respect any agreements.”

We return to the frontline. I am shown the Syrian cannons pointing towards the positions of Al Nusra Front. The local headquarters of the terrorists is clearly visible, not too far from the magnificent ruins of the Sheizar Citadel.

First, I see the Syrian soldiers, operating slightly outdated Soviet as well as newer Russian equipment: armed vehicles, tanks, “Katyushas”. Then I spot several Russian boys settling down in two houses with a commanding view of the valley and the enemy territory.

Both the Syrian and Russian armies, shoulder to shoulder, are now facing the last enclave of the terrorists.

I wave at the Russians, and they wave back at me.

Everyone seems to be in a good mood. We are winning. We are ‘almost there’.

We all also know that it is still too early to celebrate. Terrorists from all over the world are hoarded in the area in and around the city of Idlib. The US, UK and French “Special Forces” are operating in several parts of the country. The Turkish military keeps holding big chunk of the Syrian land.

The weather is clear. The green fields are fertile and beautiful. The nearby citadel is imposing. Just a little bit more of determination and endurance, and this wonderful country will be fully liberated.

We all realize it, but no one is celebrating, yet. Nobody is smiling. The facial expressions of the Syrian and Russian comrades are serious. Men are looking down towards the valley, weapons ready. They are fully concentrated. Anything may happen; anytime.

I know why there are no smiles; we all know: Soon, we may defeat the enemy.Soon, the war may end. But hundreds of thousands of Syrian people have already died.


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Mar 16, 2019 6:01 AM
Mar 16, 2019 5:40 AM

Veritas semper vincit:


“This is my tribute to all fighters who fought /still fight in Syria. Many are dead. Syrians, Russians, Lebanese through Hizballah, Iranians, and many others ,like Afghan Liwa Fatemiyoun or Palestinian Liwa al-Quads. They showed us what honor, courage and sacrifice for their fellow human being are.

They proved that love is more powerful than hate: love for their country, for justice, for truth. I witnessed incredible acts of heroism, that some day, when a true history of humanity will be written, (soon I think), they will have their place of honor.

I believe that they fought for us all, and what happened in Syria, was a fight between the forces of darkness and the forces of light . I was deeply touched by their stories; and their heroism changed the way I see the world .

comment image

“The truth rarely, if ever, convinces its opponents; it simply outlives them”. — Max Planck

Mar 15, 2019 8:31 PM

And Harry_Red BTL same Saker Link on March 15:

“Its a strategy. Its not perfect, but its a strategy….and obviously its a fluid and constantly changing situation….things worked out pretty well.

1. They corralled many rebel factions from different provinces into one province.

2. It gave time and space to rearm, regroup, retrain the Syrian Army, even incorporating other factions.

3. They used diplomacy to bring Turkey (and even the UN) into the game. It legitimized their efforts, forcing Turkey to recognize HTS as a terrorist group…….genius!

4. They let HTS basically finish off all other rebel factions, win win situation.

5. Now, they are all ready and prepared to finish off the (by all recognized) terrorist group that basically is running the province. Slowly choking them by first grabbing the demilitarized zones.

Sergey Shoygu’s smile says it all 😉 :


Mar 15, 2019 8:25 PM

Update on endgame Idlib.


“Larchmonter445 BTL on March 15, 2019 · at 1:54 pm EST/EDT

Iran, of course, wants to see Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the US lose the last of this large terrorist army they have nurtured, armed, paid, trained, nursed, joined and led in the Syrian war.

Russia will want to be certain that the several thousand terrorists in al Nusra who originate from Russia are killed in Idlib. So too, the several thousand terrorists in al Nusra who come from the Central Asian stans. And they will want to kill the several thousand terrorists who come from the other CIS states.

China will want to see the several thousand Uyghurs in al Nusra killed in Idlib.

Syria will want to see the several thousand Turkmen and others under pay from Qatar and Turkey who joined al Nusra to be killed in Idlib.

Likewise, Jordan will want to see the last of al Nusra, as will Lebanon, who with Hezbollah’s help, drove al Nusra out of Lebanon.

These are the real stakeholders in the final extermination of al Nusra.
Iran, Russia, China, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon.”

Mar 14, 2019 1:35 PM

It may very well be that this is a golden age of war reporting. Andre being one example of the truth teller-responsible only to his readers and his conscience- witness to war. Vanessa Beeley is another who told the truth in Syria when no newspaper in the western world dared to. Eva Bartlett is a third.
There have been none like them in recent conflicts, not since History ended and Wilfred Burchett and Allan Winnington, who told the truth about Hiroshima, Korea and Vietnam, died without professional issue.
Marie Colvin, the subject of a current Hollywood celebration, seems suddenly very passé, a writer who realised that the price that she paid for being allowed in a war zone was to become a propagandist for imperialism.
The great thing about work such as Andre’s is that it widens the window, allowing those who so desire to write the plain truth, which anyone can understand.
And all this is thanks to the internet, which, for all its faults and despite massive campaigns to tame it and censor it, remains, for the present, an unprecedentedly powerful tool of democratic education. We may sometimes feel that learning what is really happening, from places like Off Guardian and Moon of Alabama, is very much a minority pursuit, but the signs are that more and more people are checking the non-mainstream media to understand the world and their place in it. The smell of corruption that drifts our way from Fleet Street and the MSM, network TV and the New York Times is growing harder to avoid. That is because the commercial media is dying, like a fish, from the head down. Soon all that will be left of it is high class gossip and cheap humour. And the political caste-exemplified today by the unprecedented and earth shaking incompetence of the House of Commons, (which cannot even bring itself to recognise that its mandate long ago expired)- will resolve itself into Polly Toynbee chatting with Jon Freedland and Luke Harding in the pub with Mark Urban (send the bill for that to the Institute for Statecraft) and nobody, mercifully, having to listen without being tipped.
And then journalism will be about seeking for truths and sharing them, rather than auditioning for well rewarded posts in Big Brother’s publicity and propaganda departments
Is it not possible that it has been the work of dissident journalists which has been one of the reasons why the Syrian Arab army has done so well? Those writers having helped hobble the vast, corrupt, crude juggernaut of lies that our governments financed and facilitated, simply by telling us what the White Helmets were really doing and what the people of Aleppo actually wanted.
Such is the nature of imperialism that, while nobody cares what the people of Syria feel about being bombed, having their throats cut and daughters raped, it matters a great deal if a small percentage of consciences in the metropolis are stirred. Which is, of course, why these incessant wars are accompanied by clouds of lies like plagues of locusts. And why, as we monitor the reports coming out of Venezuela, for example, https://consortiumnews.com/2019/03/12/us-regime-change-blueprint-proposed-Venezuelan-electricity-blackouts-as-watershed-event/, we are no longer gripped by a sense of inevitable doom. We know that for the Empire to prevail militarily it must first prevail over public opinion by blanketing the media with its special pleading.
That, it appears, it can no longer do. Which means not that its wars will cease but that they will no longer automatically add strength to the governments promoting them. That, in short, there will be costs even if those costs are no stiffer than public disdain of warmongers, rather than admiration for ‘strong’ leaders like Bush or Blair who condemn tens of thousands to death without batting an eye. And win elections on the strength of it.

Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor
Mar 14, 2019 2:05 PM
Reply to  bevin

Outstandingly crafted argument, Bev: Are you suggesting that the owners (those in charge/at the helm of the MSM outlets are spewing fake news for a joke – or is there, perhaps, a method to their madness……..and what might it be, that feeds this “stance”?

Mar 14, 2019 2:37 PM
Reply to  bevin

You should be writing above the line, bevin

Mar 14, 2019 12:20 PM

I am not sure how far or much further Assads policy of negotiation with “opposition” can go….a report from a camp a few days ago clearly showed some people absolutely consumed by Isis ideology…….Turkey with unreliable Erdogan being permitted to persuade Russia while trying to keep in with the USA to some extent to delay or stall dealing with Idlib has permitted the various groups to consolidate after the hostile take overs and rivalry between the various groups as HTS vies to become dominant and establish its own kind of caliphate. Did Russia only bomb an HTS depot warehouse because it contained drones threatening its own airbase or also because of the general Idlib situation…..or are they trusting SAA by agreement with them that SAA is now in charge and more competent to deal with terrorists rebels and presumably remainder moderate rebels in Idlib….a few days ago various groups the usual suspects eg HNC met in Turkey to consolidate and more formally unite declaring once again their opposition to Assad ……how are they to be dealt with by ” negotiation”? Yup I sense that no one wants the m**********r of all out final solution in Idlib which would give western and UN sufficient concern and excuses to start flying missiles against Assad again….better to be steady……there is a new UN representative to direct the Astana process………but it all seems to be still on a knife edge in Idlib …Turkish steadfastly being intransigent…let alone east of Euphrates….al tanf etc etc.Oh boy.

Mar 14, 2019 1:07 PM
Reply to  Jo

Syrian Opposition Will Meet In Turkey Soon To Legitimize Al-Qaeda: Reports
Abu Mohammad al-Julani, a leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda)

Major groups of the Syrian opposition will hold an extensive meeting in the Turkish city of Antioch on March 14 to take important decisions on the situation in Syria.

The meeting will include the National Syrian Army (NSA), the National Front for Liberation (NFL), the Syrian Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, The opposition’s delegation to the Astana talks and the Syrian Islamic Council (SIC).

Elaph, a London-based Arabian newspaper, reported that a series of high-level decisions and measures are expected to be announced at the end of the meeting. The outlet didn’t provide any additional information.

However, a recent report by the Syrian Enab Baladi news outlet predicted that opposition forces will announce steps to merge the Turkish-backed Syrian Interim Government with the Salvation Government, which is run by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

HTS, commonly known as the al-Nusra Front, was the main branch of al-Qaeda in Syria up until 2017. Back then, the terrorist group leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, announced that the group has parted ways with al-Qaeda.

Despite this announcement, Ayman al-Zawahiri said in late 2017 that al-Qaeda has never released HTS from its pledge of allegiance. Furthermore, al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria continued to work under HTS protection.

Even the U.S. rejected this rebranding scheme. Washington’s embassy in Damascus warned from cooperating with the so-called the Salvation Government.

This new attempt to legitimize HTS and its “government” was not a surprise. Two months ago, a source in the HNC told Sputnik news agency that Turkey is working to transform HTS into a political party.

“Turkey is trying to handle the Nusra matter in Syria’s north, and they [the Turks] want to make this group a political group, like Hezbollah in Lebanon,” the source said.

These attempts to legitimize al-Qaeda will not likely settle well with the Damascus government and its allies, especially Moscow. Even the U.S. and its Arab allies will not likely tolerate such step, because it would damage their allies in the region, especially Kurdish forces in Syria.

Local observers believe that Turkey is planning to de facto divide Syria by placing its northern part under the control of a terrorist group. This would kill chances for a political settlement of the conflict.”

Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor
Mar 14, 2019 1:13 PM
Reply to  Jo

I wanna policeman under my bed to protect me at all times, so that I shall fear no ill as I walk through the valley(s) of the shadow(s)of Twump and cohorts..know’t ar mean loike?

Mar 14, 2019 5:55 PM
Reply to  Jo

Jo, oh boy indeed. What we are watching is the end game of a Classic Unsymmetric War between 2 unevenly matched forces, as described by Herodotus. A modern version of that pivotall war between the small, free, city states of Classical Greece and the huge bureaucratic Persian Empire. On the one side patriotism, intelligence, social cohesiveness; on the other, nothing but brute strength, a lumbering multitude of slaves driven by remote hereditary rulers whose brains have ceased to function through the stupidity which comes from arrogance.

North Eastern Syria, where NATZO is strongest, was always going to be left for the endgame, after the Syrian Govt had cleaned out NATZO’s terrorist hordes from the rest of the country. That was made quite clear by Dr.Assad when he played his Kurdish Autonomy card in 2011.

Read this: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x73y3fh

Mar 15, 2019 1:57 AM
Reply to  vexarb

Persia at the time was a vast, multinational, multiracial and largely easy going ramshackle empire. They had a fairly relaxed approach to their satellites, asking them to make symbolic gifts of earth to their king. They were far less demanding imperialists than most other empires, before and since.
By contrast, the Greek states have had a far too easy press. Sparta was a vicious, oppressive, xenophobic, aggressive, paranoid police state based on extreme exploitation and slavery. Sparta would make Nazi Germany look like limp wristed liberals. It was a dysfunctional, nightmare state where everybody was spying on everybody else from top to bottom. They had a warrior culture like the Normans or the Japanese samurai.
Athens wasn’t any better. It tyrannised its weaker fellow Greek neighbours in city states and small islands. Tribute was ruthlessly extorted from them (it was used to build the Parthenon, among other things.) Communities who resisted them in any way were massacred and enslaved without compunction. The wealth of Athens was based on the appalling slave labour of its silver mines. Its vaunted democracy was largely a sham.
These 2 states fought like rats in a sack for 30 years, till Persia threw its weight behind Sparta and put a stop to this nonsense. The expedition to Sicily alone in 415BC cost Athens 40,000 men. They were second only to the US in utterly pointless, disastrous and ruinously expensive wars.

Mar 15, 2019 3:34 AM
Reply to  mark

After reading a Great Courses history series on Persia’s Achaemenid empire, and some other material on Athens’ Delian League and Sparta’s own slave-state empire, I gotta agree with Mark … Persia / Iran really has had bad press over the years and the Classical Age was in reality a grubby period of mafia-state shakedown.

Mar 15, 2019 6:45 AM
Reply to  Jen

Jen and Mark. Of course, that’s why I was careful to remove the word “democratic” from my description of the free Greek city states. As a schoolboy I was struck by the fact that Sparta simply vanished after its defeat: as Mark said, it’s no fun being a Spartan when Spartans are’nt Topp. And one cannot but agree with Plato where he complains that Pericles was filling Athens with gold and ivory and marble, and boasting about their colonial expedition to Egypt (a disaster like the Sicilian expedition) when he ought to have been filling Athens with Justice and Temperance.

But nothing is perfect. Socialist Syria was slowly improving under the enlightened Assads, father and son, but still by no means perfect. Same with non-socialist Lebanon but with socially conscious Hezb’Allah. Same with Socialist Iran and its Ayatollah’s. Same with non-socialist Russia after socially conscious Putin managed to drive out some of Liberal Western parasites. None of these little countries are perfect; but they are a damn sight better than the brutal NATZO juggernaut which they managed to halt.

Mar 15, 2019 11:56 AM
Reply to  mark

@Mark: “Persia at the time was a vast, multinational, multiracial and largely easy going ramshackle empire.”

Agreed. Persia’s ethnic tolerance allowed the Jews to return to Judea from their Babylonian exile; whereupon the Religious Police of the Chosen People immediately drove out all Gentiles, and forced divorce on any Jew who had married a Shiksa wife. The book of Ruth is a gentle reproof to this racist mania.

Even in The Decline and fall of the Persian Empire, its multinational, multiracial ethos was the model for Alexander’s multinational multifaith Empire, which in turn became the model for the Empires of Rome and hence of London.

Mar 15, 2019 12:51 PM
Reply to  vexarb

PS “The book of Ruth offers a gentle corrective to racist mania”. It’s tolerant, easy-going tone suggests memories of Persia; indeed “A substantial number of scholars date it to the Persian period (6th–4th centuries BC” — (Wikipedia)

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Mar 14, 2019 1:44 AM

As opposed to propaganda.

Mar 14, 2019 1:16 AM

Whom do they blame? Mr. Abdullah does not hesitate: Saudis, Turks, the USA, Europe, Qatar…”

That’s from the horse’s mouth. The usual suspects here will bend it to blame their eternal scapegoats: the Jxxs.
What kind of people want to protect the Saudis, Turks or Qataris? Those like the EU top echelon and the European MSM, in the pay by those Islamist run nations.

Mar 14, 2019 1:55 AM
Reply to  Antonym

I don’t see how you can criticise the fools who blame everything on Jews, in view of the fact that you, in sharp non-contradistinction, blame everything on Muslims.
It’s a mercy that the days when it was always the Catholics or the Communists seem, if only temporarily, to have passed.

Mar 14, 2019 3:07 AM
Reply to  bevin

I can count (the number of terror victims), read (the Koran vs the Torah etc) and think critically.
Also my history doesn’t start from 9/11/2001.

Mar 14, 2019 1:34 PM
Reply to  Antonym

It really depends on what you call “terror victims”.
If you include the thousands killed by the indiscriminate bombing of Mosul or the artillery fire which knocked down more than half of the buildings in Fallujah, or the children picked off by snipers within the Gaza strip you will discover that few of those responsible knew the a verse in the koran.
I suspect however that to be a ‘terror victim’ in the weird world of Antonym it is necessary, first, to be able to blame the crime on a muslim: agents working at the behest of Washington or Tel Aviv are automatically given a free pass.

Mar 15, 2019 2:02 AM
Reply to  bevin

It looks like the IDF kiddie killers have just started another of their periodic pogroms in Gaza.
Probably Nitwityahoo trying to divert attention from all his thieving charges.

Mar 14, 2019 12:24 AM

i would so doubt that any public monies from black budgets syphoned through intermediaries could be accurately assessed by outsiders …. in the USA $100s billions “go missing” every year /there is no accounting whatsoever….. brave man to go there and report on what is a horrendous and truly cynical war crime by the USA and Nato ,Turkey,S Arabia etc …. very very brave people who risk their lives to truly inform us of the gross media lies of the BBC and the daily print-outs …..

Mar 14, 2019 2:27 AM
Reply to  bill

$21 trillion ($21,000,000,000,000) has officially “gone missing” from the military budget.
I don’t know if they’ve looked down the back of the sofa.
The “official” military budget is being increased from $716-750 billion.
All the totally wasteful and unnecessary programmes like food stamps and Medicare are being scrapped to give those hard pressed generals and admirals and military contractors some more desperately needed money.
The official budget doesn’t include many things and is actually 60% higher.
The actual budget is currently $1,134 billion.
The official figure doesn’t include the $7 trillion cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Or the cost of the wars in Syria, Somalia, Niger, and all the other wars going on
Or the cost of producing and maintaining nuclear weapons, and the current $1.7 trillion programme of “Nobel Peace Prize” Obongo to produce more WMD.
The cost of medical treatment for over 600,000 sick and injured from recent wars.
The cost of military pensions.
The cost of mercenaries like Blackwater on $500 a day plus.
The cost of the Black Budget, about $50 billion a year.
The paramilitary operations of the CIA.
The cost of military recruiting.
And a few other bits and pieces.

Of course, this is only part of the picture.
The CIA (Cocaine Import Agency) has been running the coke trade out of Latin America and the heroin trade out of Asia for decades. And counterfeiting its own currency.
This helps pay for all the little extras, like some of the more smelly little illegal wars and terrorist groups and regime changes you don’t want Congress to know about. Those folks aren’t too fastidious, but even they have some standards sometimes.

Yep, imperialism doesn’t come cheap. Not when you have 1,000 major military bases on all 5 continents, each with its golf course for generals, and troops stationed in 50 out of 54 African countries. Just as well there are so many unnecessary programmes like food stamps that can be cut to spend the money where it is really needed.

We haven’t got such a huge budget it the UK, but don’t worry. We have got Gavin Williamson to go and sort out Johnny Russian and Johnny Chinaman if need be.

Mar 13, 2019 10:27 PM


AD Matan
AD Matan
Mar 13, 2019 9:56 PM

Good article and truth on the ground. Sray save, the don’t like the truth.

Mar 13, 2019 8:38 PM

The UK has given well over £3 billion to its pet cannibal head choppers and throat slitters.
The tactic employed seems to be to assemble the worst assorted subhuman terrorist filth from all over the planet, arm, train, pay and transport them to the target country with British taxpayers’ money, and turn them loose to murder, burn, rape, torture, enslave and steal to their hearts’ content. With the British military and spooks lending an active hand.
Good to see all that taxpayers’ money being put to such good use.
So much better than squandering it on the NHS.
They don’t seem to have used the Nazis this time, like in the Ukraine, for some reason. Probably happy with just the jihadis this time. Any old scumbag will do as regime change cannon fodder.

It reminds me of “Blazing Saddles”, when the cartoon villain Hedley Lamarr was assembling an army of assorted low life to take over Rock Ridge. “I want half wits, dimwits, nitwits, rustlers, bushwhackers, claim jumpers, shitkickers, Indian agents, thugs, mugs ………. and Methodists.”

Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor
Mar 13, 2019 6:08 PM
Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor
Mar 13, 2019 6:34 PM
Reply to  Helmut Taylor

This comment, the article in the link is only for those with an attention span way above that of yer common or garden Twump supporter (i.e of 3 minutes) – beware. So here goes again:-


Mar 13, 2019 5:49 PM

Superb: Andre at his best …raw honesty.

Brought me to tears. Thankyou.

Mar 13, 2019 5:37 PM

Excellent work by Vltchek, & I am not a fan.

It now needs to be said, & repeated, that The West is different depts of the Rothschild/Rockefeller/Anglo/Zio Empire.

Book, 1955, by WWII Canadian naval intelligence officer, William Guy Carr: Pawns In The Game. Read online free at http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net using the search box.

John Doran.

Mar 13, 2019 5:35 PM

Thank you André for this report .You do good work indeed and you are there ,on the ground ,reporting.More than we can say about CNN armchair reporters.
Looking forward to seeing you in Winnipeg .
Stay safe.

Mar 13, 2019 5:17 PM

Powerful stuff, Mr. Vltchek. It puts all so-called “journalism” done from a TV studio thousands of miles away to shame. Respect!

Mar 14, 2019 2:41 AM
Reply to  Ash

We are very lucky to have real journalists like AV, Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, Lizzie Phelan, and others to get the truth out, often working on a shoestring. And people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who have had to run for their lives and still risk being murdered every day by the cheap mafia hoods who pass for a government in Washington. Imagine what it would be like without their contribution, and that of sites like this. The Ziocons would probably have started another half dozen wars by now.

Mar 15, 2019 9:54 AM
Reply to  mark

Mark, here’s another from real journalist Vanessa Beeley:


HANDS OFF VENEZUELA: Interview with Venezuela Ambassador to Syria

Yesterday (13/3/2019), I had the huge privilege of interviewing the Venezuelan Ambassador at the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the Syrian Arab Republic – in Damascus.

Dr Jose Gregorio Biomorgi Muzattiz was an immensely warm and welcoming host with tremendous intelligence, humour & geopolitical experience. Dr Biomorgi took the time to explain the history of what is happening now in Venezuela and to dismantle the propaganda that is surrounding events in his country.

Tags: Regime Change, Syria, Venezuela

Mar 13, 2019 4:37 PM

Andre Vltchek, Journalism with a human face. Reporting from Syria, government with a human face.

“Before my visit here, I was told that education played an extremely important role in defending this place, and in keeping morale high during the darkest days of combat and crises. Mr. Abdullah readily confirmed it:

The human brain has the capacity to solve problems, and to defuse crises. During a war like this, education is extremely important. Or more precisely, it is mainly about learning, not only about education. Al-Nusra and ISIS – they are synonymous with ignorance. If your brain is strong, it easily defeats ignorance. I think we succeeded here. And look now: this poor village has at this moment 103 students attending universities, all over Syria.”

James Porteous
James Porteous
Mar 13, 2019 4:28 PM

Thank you for this.