The Dead Angle

The Syrian city of Sednaya, center of Christian pilgrimage and where to the present day, both Muslim and Christian pilgrims come to commemorate the feast day of “Our Lady of Sednaya”, doesn´t appear very often in Western media; almost never. Sednaya is not sexy at all to western journalists. They don´t find there what they are looking for: No “rebels”, nobody complains about the “evil regime” in Damascus, people there talk about peace instead of war. The beautiful old monastery built on the rocks of the mountain looks from afar like a fortress. At the first glance Sednaya might be a theme for journalists of tourist magazines or religious media. But it is not. Sednaya is the dead angle of a bloody war.

When I visited Sednaya a couple of days ago I had my camera and my voice recorder with me. It was not a “touristic tour” at all. I spoke to the people of Sednaya who are at the same time full of hospitality but are hardened and embittered by their experiences of the war that shows its ugly face through shells, mortars, kidnappings, and killings. Sednaya is somehow a “besieged city” surrounded by nests of the so-called “rebels”. The road to Sednaya from Damascus is heavily guarded by the Syrian army. I went to Sednaya via that road with some good friends accompanied by armed escort to the city.

I spoke to those who never appear in western media because their stories do not fit to the storyline of war lies. I also spoke to the men who are insulted in Western media as “Shabiha” and “regime profiteers” because they risk their lives with a gun in their hand every day and every night at the city checkpoints to protect the civilians. They organize themselves in local committees to keep the war outside their city. I met a doctor who    treats patients during the day and serves at a checkpoint after sunset with an AK-47 assault rifle. His comrade, a wiry and sun tanned elder man, showed me his scar on his chest from a heart operation, but insists to do his duty as a member of the citizen militia of Sednaya. One of the heads of the committee lost his automotive parts and accessories shop in a suburb of Damascus. Now he protects his city against the aggressors. With a smile on his face he told me that he will of course open his shop again when the war is over. Young men from Sednaya joined the committee to protect their neighborhood.

I met a man in the hospital of Sednaya who was attacked by terrorists while working in the field. His brother died. The attackers came with a motor cycle and opened fire on the two brothers. I spoke to man who was kidnapped by terrorists. His story was heartbreaking. He was for more than three weeks in the hands of a criminal gang that views itself as “armed opposition”, the friends of the West. He was kidnapped for a ransom, nothing else.

I was in the abandoned “Restaurant Paradise” of Sednaya that used to be full of life before the war. Now the walls are full of holes from attacks. “Rebels” were firing at the restaurant from the mountains. The traces of this war in the city itself are clearly visible. Sometimes a mortar falls in Sednaya. Sometimes it kills, sometimes the people are lucky and just a balcony is damaged. Even the old monastery was already attacked by those who claim they fight for “freedom and democracy”.

The war against Sednaya is somehow symbolic. It shows exactly the bloody border between barbarism and civilization. While old and young men defend their hometown full of unique cultural and historical wealth with guns, the West delivers modern arms to those who want to destroy all this. The West supports the barbarism in its fight against civilization and claims that this is for a “good cause”. Indeed, all these stories from the Syrian war are not sexy enough for the mainstream media. This is why Sednaya is in the dead angle.