Bashar al-Assad Has a Syria He’d Like the World to See

Originally published in the New York Times

Photo credit: Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images

At first the image didn’t make much sense: tanks bunched together, red flags flying and a line of soldiers in Yemeni-style red berets. The scene was set in the shadows of bombed-out apartment buildings that, confusingly, didn’t look much like Yemen.

The scene was fake, a photo of the set of “Home Operation,” a film produced by Jackie Chan and inspired by a Chinese mission to evacuate Chinese and foreign nationals from Yemen in 2015. The apartment buildings were real, but not in Yemen. Filming started last month in Hajar al-Aswad, a southern suburb of Damascus, Syria, that used to be home to thousands of people.

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