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Frontline: The Bombing of al-Bara
April 12, 2013 10:32 PM   Subscribe

Frontline journalist Olly Lambert captures the event of a Syrian government air strike on the town of al-Bara. Powerfully upsetting and tragic, his footage conveys the sheer terror afflicting the lives of Syrian refugees struggling to survive under the Assad regime. [36min SLYT]

Lambert gives post-event narration of the footage, offering deeper insight into the images of chaos and mayhem that play out around the scene of the attack.

Full PBS episode (US only)
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I see a lot of people who used to live a 9-to-5 life like I do. It terrifies me that ordinary folk can be caught between such forces for violence, destruction, and death.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:28 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Barack Obama signed off $10m in food and medicine for Syrian rebels yesterday, saying the war there had reached a “critical” point. The United States is also providing $385 million in humanitarian aid for the estimated four million people displaced by the conflict inside Syria and the 1.2 million refugees who have fled the country. Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.
posted by stbalbach at 11:49 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It terrifies me that ordinary folk can be caught between such forces for violence, destruction, and death.

When I talk to people my age from Lebanon and Bosnia this is what they always mention. "One day you're going to work as usual, the next day bombs are falling. It happens quicker than you can imagine." I really believe that - that civilization is a thin veneer.

Syria looks more and more like the Civil War in Lebanon - which turned an open, prosperous, cosmopolitan city like Beirut into just the same sort of war zone we see in Syria. The war in Lebanon ended ironically with Syrian intervention. The war in Bosnia ended with NATO intervention. It would seem Syria is destined form the same sort of "salvation" but the question for me is who is the savior? Half-assed American support like this has never worked. When has providing aid "from the C.I.A." ever ended well?
posted by three blind mice at 12:04 AM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's hard not to imagine me clutching my kid in a similar situation and it is gut-wrenching even to accidentally, briefly consider the possibility. The reality... I cannot even... Shit.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:34 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you need a history lesson on airstirkes. No footage of what things looked like on the ground - so use your imagination.
posted by vicx at 1:00 AM on April 13, 2013


Lambert gives post-event narration of the footage, offering deeper insight into the images of chaos and mayhem that play out around the scene of the attack.

Not sure if this has been shared already, but War Photographer is a good example of this cinematic genre. All in all, truly unnerving and unimaginable for anyone who's never seen an explosion before, much less motorcycles and dirt roads!

I can't.. imagine the amount of work and composure it took for him to provide the voice-over/narration.
posted by linear_arborescent_thought at 1:01 AM on April 13, 2013


.
posted by panaceanot at 1:30 AM on April 13, 2013


I think the main difference between Syria and Lebanon is that Syria has long been a client state of Russia, and is the location of their last naval base outside of the ex-Soviet Union. One imagines they are reasonably committed to maintaining this relationship. They've vetoed Security Council resolutions in the past. Neither Russia or China are likely to allow a Libya-style no-fly zone in any case.

Meanwhile, the women and children are caught in the crossfire.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:49 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. How the flying fuck did that journalist navigate that experience w/o a translator?
2. They look like people who have been pushed past their limits, repeatedly. The fourteen year old screaming about his uncle and grandparents -- you can almost see his disbelief coalescing into rage as the film progresses.
3. I have limited hope in the human race, sometimes, and this is one of those mornings.
posted by angrycat at 4:17 AM on April 13, 2013


I think the main difference between Syria and Lebanon is that Syria has long been a client state of Russia, and is the location of their last naval base outside of the ex-Soviet Union

It's also the last state standing in the way of a gas pipeline from the gulf to Europe, maybe Russia isn't ready to welcome the competition.

At what point do we stop framing this as a rebellion or civil war and recognize it as a proxy war being fought on Syrian soil by foreign interests? People thousands of miles away send weapons and fighters and bicker over bullshit nobody cares about, meanwhile hundreds get blown up in the next car bomb and a country is fucked for another 50 years.
posted by xqwzts at 4:54 AM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


He has a translator - atleast when he is travelling in the car there is another man who speaks english and arabic although he calls him his driver. I assume he must have had a translator as he said he spoke only 10 words or so of syrian arabic in this AMA on reddit the filmmaker did a few days ago which might be interesting?
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 5:00 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whee! FRONTLINE post! Kandarp, thank you very much for posting this!

Okay, correction: the full episode is NOT U.S. only-- it's blocked in the UK, just like every new episode, because of a licensing agreement. But folks in Ireland, Azerbaijan or Angola can watch the shit out of it. Because it's nuts.

This video is of a very rare variety. As my coworker pointed out, when you see the aftermath of an airstrike , it's generally at least 45 minutes or an hour later because a crew heard about an incident somewhere relatively close by and sped off to see it. In this case they were present.

While we're on the subject, if you're going to link to FRONTLINE video, please link to it at the FL site instead of the PBS video portal. It doesn't matter to the viewer, but sending traffic to the FRONTLINE site is a way to support the show because our continued popularity is what keeps it going.

How the flying fuck did that journalist navigate that experience w/o a translator?

Olly Lambert's made of determination. I get the impression that he's one of those people who just gets shit done-- a coworker was going over his interview schedule, and I was tired just hearing about it. And then he got up in the wee hours to live tweet the show.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:03 AM on April 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


My word, what a mess. I feel terrible for those suffering through this.

After seeing this, it is very difficult for me to understand how supplying the rebels with weapons is going to make the situation any better.
posted by rhombus at 5:30 AM on April 13, 2013


You can definitely see how amateurish the Syrian government forces are. If it had been a US air strike, we would have waited around to see what sort of ants were kicked up by the first strike and then we would have destroyed the rescuers as they were pulling bodies and survivors out. That journalist would likely have been dead, especially since he was meeting with a terrorist leader. That lucky man, who survived the first strike buried in debris would be obliterated by the second just as he thought he was saved.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:44 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


this AMA on reddit the filmmaker did a few days ago which might be interesting?

He also did this Cover It Live chat on the FRONTLINE site that I thought was very informative.

While I'm promoting site features, please take a look at the map that we did and tell me honestly what you think of it. The animated focus layer was my idea, and I'm curious to hear what folks think of it-- the goal was to provide a less-confining "click and reveal" experience with some added visuals to give it some pop/gravity. This show's site producer did the research, our ui designer gave it a distinctive look and I wrote the code. Does it work to provide a better click-and-reveal experience?
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:59 AM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


shit. this should be required watching for everyone who is lucky enough not to live in a war zone. and imagine, this is what happens dozens of times each week or month, usually to people like us, just trying to make the best of our lives.

does the West continue to arm the rebels so that they can exact revenge in a similar way, where other innocents get brutalized? does the West do nothing, indirectly allowing more of the same to happen, just to a different group of innocent people?

is this same story going to play out in Korea, while so many of us sitting at home in our comfortable chairs, watch to see if Kim gets his comeupance?

so what do you do? what can you do?
I don't think I need to play the lottery anymore. I think I won it a long time ago.
posted by bitteroldman at 6:05 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lastly, update on the country blocking: The PBS YouTube account may be US-only by default (I think it is). But as for the PBS version of "The Bombing of al Bara," it's not even blocked in the UK-- it doesn't fall under the epsiode licensing agreement. Anyone can watch it at the FRONTLINE site. The episode, though, is indeed blocked in the UK.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:06 AM on April 13, 2013


To hell with any regime that bombs civilians.
posted by schwa at 6:18 AM on April 13, 2013


It i indeed as noted a proxy war but also similar to the Spanish Civil war, also a proxy war. It began as usual rebellion. Then Russia supported Assad. The Iran supported, via Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad. Then Allied power s supported rebels. Then (as of just now) rebels splitting off from rebels who are Al Aqaeda loyalists, thus weakening themselves and beginning what may well be another war among the possible victors. Surrounding countries--Turkey and Lebanon--are begging to feel the impact and I have heard, though not confirmed, that Israel is a bit involved too.
The US ,mean while, trying to assist the rebels but keep serious weapons away from the "bad" rebels--that is, jihadists, among rebel group.
In sum, when it is over it is just beginning again, in a slightly different way
posted by Postroad at 6:24 AM on April 13, 2013


and then this, just reported, indicate the use of POISON GAS
posted by Postroad at 6:28 AM on April 13, 2013


It is both a proxy war and a real rebellion, and a tragedy. >70k deaths and counting......

VICE magazine did an amazing piece on Syria too. That's where I first learned about the Russian submarine base.
posted by lalochezia at 6:42 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


postroad, how legit is that site? honest question; very concerning because that would probably change the level of u.s. involvement if true, no?
posted by angrycat at 6:49 AM on April 13, 2013


The Vice piece is good but only the first page works, I'd like to read the rest.
posted by stbalbach at 7:12 AM on April 13, 2013


The use of poison gas is a bit of a side show in this context: when thousands or tens of thousands of people have been killed by conventional munitions and the concomitant disruption to normal life, the deaths of a few extra people by poison gas are neither here nor there. Get rid of the gas and the general suffering will be just as acute; get rid of the civil war and poison gas will no longer be a threat.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:20 AM on April 13, 2013


stbalbach, try this; the other one is for mobile, I think.
posted by taz at 7:29 AM on April 13, 2013


From a civilian or non-combatant perspective, all wars are proxy wars.

Sickening shit. I hope Assad swings for this all.
posted by spitbull at 8:24 AM on April 13, 2013


The use of poison gas is a bit of a side show in this context: when thousands or tens of thousands of people have been killed by conventional munitions and the concomitant disruption to normal life, the deaths of a few extra people by poison gas are neither here nor there.

isn't that a bit like saying nukes were incidental after the firebombing of tokyo?

obama: "the Assad regime, has -- has stockpiles of chemical weapons only heightens the urgency. We will continue to cooperate closely to guard against that danger. I've made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders: We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people or the transfer of those weapons to terrorists. The world is watching. We will hold you accountable." [txt]
posted by kliuless at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2013


Syria air strikes 'target civilians' - Human Rights Watch. The Syrian Air Force is carrying out both deliberate air strikes against civilians and indiscriminate attacks, a leading rights group has warned.

HRW: Death from the Skies
posted by homunculus at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2013


The opposition has some nice videos of what they do to Alawites (Assad's brand of religion, and his tribe). Mostly physical abuse followed by summary executions.

Such as this.

None of the factions are playing nice

.
posted by bert2368 at 10:35 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a clip in the video where a guy goes on a rant about how he will rain terror and death on the Alawites, for having terrorized and killed his people.

When a generation is raised in violence and revenge, it becomes impossible to break the cycle.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:46 AM on April 13, 2013


That was hard to watch. And I am not talking about the bodies, which I blocked out with my hand in front of my face. The hardest part are the kids, women and also the men who are in such shock and disbelieve. The reporter is outstanding in the way he comments the video.
posted by nostrada at 1:02 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


the video reminds me a lot of some scenes in district 9, or children of men. it's the real life version of what they are trying to show.

there are a few things that struck me that haven't been mentioned. the selflessness of the guy who crawls into the rubble after the first bomb. i wonder what happened to him, or if he every found anyone.

the playing up of things to the camera is something i didn't think about. where, they won't take someone to the hospital right away to show the camera, or people telling a woman what to say. when i saw that i thought that it looked like something from black mirror.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:37 AM on April 14, 2013


Syrian Pro-Government Hackers Take Their Fight to CBS and Twitter
posted by homunculus at 10:38 PM on April 21, 2013


Did the Boston Bombing Hurt the Syrian Revolution? Obama & Putin Confer as Rebels Allege Regime Massacre
posted by homunculus at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2013


Israeli general: Syrian 'regime has used and is using chemical weapons'. Military intelligence chief's assertion puts pressure on US over its pledge to intervene
posted by homunculus at 3:00 PM on April 23, 2013


Classic developing story - same paper, same author, lots of the same text, ten hours apart:
Assad attacked rebels with nerve gas, top IDF analyst says
Itai Brun: Based on photo evidence, regime deployed sarin on March 19; over 1,000 tons of chemical weapons in Syria

Netanyahu can’t confirm Syrian chemical use, says Kerry
US Secretary of State tells NATO conference that PM cannot verify report by IDF ‘s top analyst that Assad using nerve gas on rebels
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:01 AM on April 24, 2013


How I Used Social Media to Become an “Accidental Arms Expert”

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 6:15 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Syria used chemical weapons, White House says
posted by homunculus at 9:42 AM on April 25, 2013


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