It is the moral and ethical duty of a journalist to tell the truth. To report with an open mind and a beating heart.

On August 21st of this year, New York Times published an article with the following heading " What victory looks like: A Journey through shattered Syria" – The innuendo here is that victory has led to the shattering of Syria leading the reader to think the crisis in Syria and the blood and destruction are all the fault of the Syrian Army and the government. The article says, very much tongue in cheek, "We-three journalists with the New York Times – had come to Syria to see what his victory looked like".

The article continues to say that the suffering had been "unequally distributed, landing most heavily on the poor and on former rebel held areas". However clarification of this sentence is not present in the article leaving it to the imagination of the reader to decipher the cause of the suffering. The cause of the suffering in the rebel held areas was the rebels themselves. In almost all rebel held territories the safe access route that the government provided for the inhabitants of the area was sealed off by armed groups, thus imposing upon the locals ill health and starvation. Food and medical supplies that were delivered to local checkpoints never found their way to the local population, but ended up instead on the plates of a handful while medical supplies were rationed and given only to locals who showed the right amount of "loyalty" to the armed groups. Those in dire need to leave were not allowed to leave and had to live under laws and conditions similar to those found in the jungle. At this point in this article it is useful to remember the 14 year old coffee vendor (Muhamd al-Qatta) who was shot in head for "blasphemy", right in front of the eyes of his parents. It happened in rural Aleppo in 2013 where the boy was selling coffee in one of the squares and refused to dish out a free coffee cup. He was accused of using the name of prophet Muhammad in vain and the sentence for this blasphemy was a bullet in the head after a severe beating!!The Scotsman 12 June 2013 and the Huffington Post 6/10/2013 reported this tragic incident. This incident is a good example depicting   the conditions and laws in the areas of Syria held by terrorist groups - religious extremism carried to the point of lunacy held locals in almost mesmeric fear. It is indeed sad that the New York article doesn't mention any of this. It never describes what it was like to live under the rule of terror.

They never describe the industrial city of Adra' and what happened there though it is on the way to Lattakia and so they must have seen it. They never talk how the people of Adra' woke up to fear and execution (December 2013) based on sect and those whom suspicion fell upon that they were pro-government or civil servants. In Adra' the terrorists looked for telltale signs that would lead them to government employees. For example they would look for Sham cars knowing that these cars were used by civil servants. This is how Heytham Mousa -who worked for the ministry of information went missing in December 2013 and is still missing up to this day!  There is no mention of the family of Maysoun Mahla who rather than face death at the hands of the terrorists decided to end their lives themselves. Patrick Cockburn wrote an article on this in the independent on 9th of February 2014 entitled "Syria conflict: an ordinary family, a terrible war" This hair raising article describes the last minutes of the family of Maysoun Mahla and how they all died except for fair haired Maysoun whose leg was severed, but then had to face an even more terrible fate than death, when she was dragged behind a car covered in blood and still alive.

Many people died or went missing in the industrial town of Adra' yet nothing came out of it and New York Times doesn't think it important enough to mention.

The article talks about "Recovery, allotted unequally" and speaks about a mall a many million dollar mall built during the war as if the money that was supposed to be spent on recovery and rebuilding went instead to a mall. The mall of course is privately owned and plans for building it had been set up prior to 2012. The government doesn't own any part of the mall neither did it spend money allotted to rebuilding destroyed areas on malls. Hinting that this is what happened is hardly professional.

And the Syria that is" missing its middle class" is because many of the factories that were on Syrian soil were illegally dismantled and set up in Turkey-this Turkish backed move affected the middle class greatly and yes New York Times , harsh sanctions imposed on the citizens of Syria led to a lot of the middle class leaving their country to try and live in a country that doesn't have sanctions imposed upon it – these very same sanctions that contribute to the poverty that the New York Times article writes about "8 in 10 people are now living in poverty".

"Assad is everywhere. So are his underlings" "Everywhere we went it was impossible to forget who presided over the destruction, and who will preside over what comes next".

As if the destruction were the government's fault.  Syria prior to 2011 was a country on the rise. A country with a future that looked promising. A country with a flourishing tourism and business industry. But it wasn't only that - it was also one of the very few countries that refused to sign an unfair peace deal with Israel. One of the few countries that didn't change its political narrative to suit the wishes of others and so the war, destruction and poverty that the New York Times team saw.

They should have looked beyond that picture they speak about.

In Douma it wasn't the government's siege that reduced people to eating grass (though the English once did it to the Irish) but it was the adamant refusal of the armed groups there to allow the locals of Douma to use the safe passage provided by the government. Anyone attempting to use the safe corridor was shot at by the armed terrorists and it is important here to remember the two children who lost both their parents as they attempted to cross over from Douma.

This happened on the 6th March 2018.

10 year old Fatima and her younger brother Hamza crawled out of Douma into the safety of government held areas but only after witnessing the horrific death of both their parents who were shot when they were attempting the crossing.

Throughout the article sectarian language is used- a language that is never used in Syria. New York Times speaks about the "Alawites" and visiting their areas but even they , who suffered grossly and greatly(like all Syrians have) in this war are not given their due.

Their sacrifices are mocked and more weight is given to the words of the provincial governor and home grown cucumber!!

In Aleppo the same story continues it is "the government siege that had splintered the 14th century souk: and the government that had repeatedly bombed hospitals". For New York Times it is very much a one sided show. It is a fact that terrorists destroyed the famous Omayed mosque of Aleppo and stole its minibar. In their attempt to conquer the famous citadel of Aleppo they built underground passages which led to the citadel and stored explosives there that they later detonated. This is what led to the burning of the ancient souk (which they had previously looted)

It is also to be remembered that in Aleppo it was the terrorists who burnt down Al Kindi hospital the largest in the middleast that dealt with tumours .The opthalmology hospital was also turned into an ammunition depot by the terrorists and not the other way round as described by the New York Times.

The article is rich in imagination and colour-but they could have saved themselves the cost of travelling to Syria for it wasn't beneficial in anyway-the scenario they presented in that article could very well have been written when they were still back home!


Reem Haddad

Editor in Chief