Even the most brutal wars feature flickers of common humanity. Late last year, I wrote about World War I’s famous “Christmas Truce,” when tens of thousands of soldiers on the Western Front marked the holiday by ditching their weapons, emerging from the trenches, and fraternizing in No Man’s Land. On Monday, Syria may have had its own Christmas Truce moment—with the emphasis on may.
Reuters has released photos from the bombed-out, long-besieged, rebel-held town of Babila, just six miles south of Damascus, where a local ceasefire came into effect this week. The striking pictures show pro-government and opposition forces, who are currently locked in a three-year-old conflict that has left more than 130,000 people dead, mingling, embracing, and laughing together.
But even here, the bitter civil war has intruded on the heartwarming scene. The images were taken during a guided tour for journalists by the Syrian military. And Reuters reports that pro- and anti-government figures have expressed outrage about the show of goodwill, with some opposition fighters in the Damascus suburbs arguing that the pictures were staged and that the rebels depicted “were actually pro-Assad militias dressed to look like opposition fighters. Others claim the interactions were authentic. “[T]here was no way to confirm the identity of those photographed,” the news agency notes.
Read more. [Image: Khaled al-Hariri]