This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
GB
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the United Kingdom version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 13th April 2018 > Tourist Trap

Tourist Trap

Skeptical of media reports about Syria, small groups of Westerners are heading to Damascus to see for themselves. Are they truth-seekers—or pawns of the regime?

MIDDLE EAST

@sallyhayd

A child in Eastern Ghouta.
HAMZA AL­AJWEH/AFP/GETTY

IT ALMOST SOUNDS LIKE THE beginning of a joke.

A British priest, an American student and a Scottish baroness, among others, were stuck at a border crossing. But the border in question is no joking matter; it’s the one that divides Lebanon from Syria. Skeptical of what they’d seen and heard in the Western media, these men and women had arrived here to learn the “truth” about the then-six-year-old Syrian Civil War.

This was last year, and the group was one of hundreds of tourist delegations that have tried to come to Syria, many with permission from the regime. Its organizer? Andrew Ashdown, an Anglican vicar from Winchester, a small town in southern England. Since 2014, he’s visited Syria at least nine times on similar tours. His personal highlight came about two years ago when he unexpectedly met President Bashar al-Assad. Many in the West consider Assad a monster, but Ashdown feels differently. Stuck at the border crossing, he was excitedly telling his companions about his encounter. “He was standing there surrounded by all this grandeur, yet completely alone,” Ashdown said. “I felt very privileged. It’s terrible how the media twist things.”

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Newsweek International - 13th April 2018
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - 13th April 2018
£4.99
Or 499 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only £ 0.65 per issue
SAVE
87%
£32.99
Or 3299 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only £ 0.94 per issue
SAVE
80%
£3.99
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Newsweek International

SIX MORE YEARS It was close to midnight on March 18th and a triumphant Vladimir Putin stood at a podium at his campaign headquarters near Red Square. Dressed in a jacket and open-necked shirt, Russia’s longtime leader looked weary but satisfied. He had just secured a fourth presidential term in a landslide election, extending his rule for another six years, until 2024 and maybe beyond. What will that mean for America and the world?