Syria tourism ministry flaunts intact side of Aleppo


While the rebel neighbourhoods of Aleppo are bombarded by the Syrian regime, Syria’s tourism ministry has published a strange video showing what looks like a pristine city. Aerial footage of Aleppo shows a luxury hotel, a large church and two mosques, a beautiful green park – but of course, all of this is on the west side of the city, which is still controlled by the regime. This eerie video, set to the Game of Thrones theme song, is titled “Will of Life”.

The video ends with these same words on the screen: “Will of Life.”(Its creators probably meant “Will to Live”.) Whether this is really meant to attract tourists is unclear, but at the very least, it seems the authorities want to show that life goes on in Aleppo – at least in the part controlled by Bashar Al Assad’s forces.

These images stand in sharp contrast with those published a few days ago showing the eastern side of Aleppo in ruins. In this part of the city, war rages on, with relentless bombings ever since the end of a truce on September 19.

The comments on the promotional video, which was posted Friday on the Syrian tourism ministry’s Facebook page, are for the most part in support of the regime. The comments against the regime are quickly erased. For example, this one:

“Due to injustice and despotism […], Aleppo is in ruins today. Aleppo’s historic city centre, which was the symbol of an ancient civilisation, is in ruins. The great mosque and the souk are as well. The heart of Aleppo is burning, and its population with it. It’s good to be optimistic, but Aleppo will not come alive again as long as its residents are oppressed and their homes are destroyed with them inside.”

Or this one: “Is the person who made this video stupid, or what? Don’t they know that the most important places in Aleppo are the old castle, the old markets, and Saad Allah Square? Oh, right, they don’t want to show images of destruction…”

Screen grab from a since-deleted comment under the tourism ministry's video. 

This is not the first time that the Syrian tourism ministry creates this sort of bizarre video. On August 29, it published a video promoting Rima, a beach resort north of Tartus, where the regime is in control.