French MP Jean Lassalle has recently visited Syria together with Thierry Mariani from the Republicans (LR) party and his fellow LR member Nicolas Dhuicq. In an interview with Sputnik France the politician revealed what he did not expect to see on the ground and what the mainstream media had been keeping silent the entire time.
During their trip, the three lawmakers, together with representatives of the French media visited Damascus and Aleppo. The mass media had an opportunity to talk to President Assad. While visiting Syria's second-largest city of Aleppo, they were able to see with their own eyes the actual situation in the city recently liberated from terrorists, which considerably differed from what they have been constantly told by the mainstream media.
"It is clear that the Syrian people in fact do support their army. This army has been single-handedly fighting against the terrorists for about five years. The Russian support has played a decisive role," he told Sputnik France.
"The army and the people have grown closer because of this fight on their vast territory. Many of the city districts are destroyed but people are still returning to the city quarters, churches, mosques and hospitals, the politician recalled.
"In the center of a completely destroyed district I saw a man who was painting his wooden hut with the help of his wife and his children. And he was happy. I stopped over to talk with him. He said he was happy to be alive and seize the opportunity to rebuild his premises which were so small that nobody was able to target them," the politician recalled.
Great peoples never die
Commenting on what he saw in Aleppo, Jean Lassalle noted that the city is being rebuilt. "The people do have hope and it is incredible. Great peoples never die!" he said. "The major part of the city has experienced great destruction: over 30,000 people died and it is a huge figure. However it is far less than we've been told by the mainstream media, which claimed that there "wasn't an insect left," he added. The politician acknowledged that the trip has meant a lot to him, as he is one of not many French politicians who show interest to the conflict in Syria.
What he saw in the Syrian capital, which was a beautiful modern city, has demonstrated how fast hatred and war can bring to ashes not only historical sites but the hearts of the residents and turn life upside down.
Jean Lassalle however lamented that ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in his home country, the Syrian crisis is not being talked about and addressed whatsoever. However it should be at the center of the political debates. The accompanying French media were able to talk to President Assad. The politician said that there are signs that those who were able to see the country have started changing their attitude towards it.
With regards to the French public and the country's media, it will take considerably longer, he said. For a very long time the negative perception of Syria and the ongoing conflict has been virtually hammered into people's heads.
Nowadays, he said, France can't afford to sit in front of the TV, waiting for more news to come in fear of deviating from the commonly held views.
The politician also doubted that any French politician will travel to the capital of Kazakhstan, where Syrian government and the opposition are set to meet later in January.
"The Geneva talks were not bad but we distantly led by those who have never been to Syria. France should participate in Astana talks but it won't, at least until the French presidential elections," he finally stated.
Jean Lassalle is well-known in his home country for a 39-day hunger strike which he went on in March/April 2006, in protest at a threat to jobs in his constituency.
In 2013, Lassalle walked around France for eight months from April to December to meet people.
He was afterwards quoted, “Everywhere I went I witnessed a crisis in the standard of living, a loss of identity and the loss of a sense of a common destiny”.
He found the situation equally bad in the cities and the countryside. Skepticism about globalization, distrust of politicians and latent racism were common among people he spoke to, he said.