MESOP Syria Feature: State Media’s Myth of “Residents Returning to Palmyra”

by Scott Lucas  – 11 April 2016 – eaworldview –  Since the recapture of Palmyra from the Islamic State in late March, State and Russian media have been celebrating the return of residents to the Roman-era city in central Syria.But the supposed return is just a photo opportunity. People are being allowed one hour to look at their homes and grab whatever they can carry. They then are taken back to areas such as Homs city.


On Friday, State news agency SANA headlined, “Locals of Palmyra Return to Their Homes“. By Saturday, the story had grown to almost “2000 locals” taken in 46 buses to the city.

Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi announced, “It is expected that the main services of health, electricity and water will be restored within weeks in the two cities.”

Photographs showed people milling about on one of Palmyra’s streets that had not been damaged by Islamic State occupation and regime and Russian bombardment.




However, resident Abdulkarim Tadmuri gave the full story to Syria Direct, talking of the journey from Homs cityon Saturday morning: “State media and other journalists were with us. It felt like we were going to a press conference.”

After the 90-minute bus ride and interviews with pro-regime media, Syrian army officers escorted people into the city for the one hour to inspect their homes and retrieve belongings.

Local journalist Abu Abass a-Tadmuri confirmed, “No one was allowed to stay in the city.”

Homs Governor al-Barazi insisted that residents will be allowed to return permanently after Russian engineering teams finish removing landmines planted by the Islamic State.

However, Abdulkarim Tadmuri was far from hopeful: When we got to the city everyone stopped—the level of destruction was astounding.I searched for my house but I felt like a stranger in a city I’d never visited before.