There is something about this photograph that captures the biblical nature of the Resistance against international terrorism in Syria. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw it yesterday and this morning, I am expressing the emotions it brought to the surface.
Both men with their feet rooted in the ancient stone of their land, the vast, rolling landscape behind them, the gathering clouds billowing across the endless skies. A moment of humour between these two commanders of their Resistance soldiers as they defy the monsters that have been introduced into the land of the Prophets.
The stone they are standing on has withstood centuries of invasion and hostility and has survived intact - these two men are fighting to defend this history and to ensure a future of peace for their people.
On the left is Nabel Alabdalla, leader of the volunteer National Defence Forces in Al Sqeilbiyyeh, a hero to the people of his town and a man who, with his soldiers, has given everything to defend his homeland, his history and his people. Adored and respected by his fighters, Nabel retains a humility and humanity in the face of the evil he has confronted on a number of campaigns across Syria.
Nabel has often spoken of "holding the candle of peace and love in one hand, with the other hand on the trigger of the gun" - this is the spirit of these Syrian soldiers who fight for peace and the return of love and unity to this land.
(My interview with Nabel after a terrorist attack on the town of Al Sqeilbiyyeh - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfzD7abEzOU )
On the right is Liwa Zaid Saleh one of the most charismatic Generals in the Syrian Arab Army. I first met General Zaid in Aleppo, December 2016, during the final battles to liberate East Aleppo from the terrorist gangs that had occupied it for almost 5 years. The General accompanied us to one of the districts in the final throes of liberation, the industrial area of Sheikh Saeed. War planes were still roaring overhead and smoke plumed skywards from areas only very recently cleansed of their terrorist occupants.
We stood on the rooftop and surveyed the devastation that is the criminal footprint left behind by these U.S Coalition terror groups. Young soldiers, many from the Liwa Al Quds (Palestinian) brigade gathered around us, giving victory signs to the camera and holding up the Al Qaeda banners and flags that had flown from these buildings before the Syrian Arab Army drove them out. General Zaid spoke movingly to the media contingent, describing the SAA determination to end terrorism, not only in Syria but in the world.
I hear this statement from almost every Syrian soldier, regardless of rank. They understand that they are fighting and dying not only for Syria but for us all, for all Humanity.
I later met General Zaid with Nabel in Al Sqeilbiyyeh when the General described his ongoing campaign to offer amnesty and reconciliation to Syrian fighters who had turned against their own people.
The General showed me videos of his speeches to these former "rebel" fighters and described to me how many of them had responded when he spoke. Thousands of them rejoined the Syrian army and are now fighting international terrorism alongside their former "enemies" who are now, once more, their brothers.
I heard the same thing in Al Waer, Homs when we were observing the evacuation of "rebel" fighters from the area - on the green buses to Idlib. The Governor of Homs described how he had entered the buses and spoken to the Syrian citizens that he believed were confused and misled... he told us that many of them had also wept, some had got off the buses and had been allowed to return home. Many who left for Jarablus and Idlib asked to return a few weeks later, life in the extremist hell hole that is Idlib was not what they expected. They were welcomed home.
This is Syria - forgiveness is in their nature, it is embedded in their psyche. I remember also when Eastern Ghouta was liberated, a friend of mine in Damascus said to me:
"The war is finished, but now we have the most difficulat war - the war of forgiveness"
It is a war that all Syrians will win because they know, instinctively, that it is the best way to protect their own humanity and their homeland from any future destabilisation. They know that Humanity must learn to forgive in order to survive and to progress. The Syrian people are light years ahead of the so called "civilised" West.
As Dag Hammarskjold, first Secretary General of the U.N said:
"The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned."
Syria will never be defeated. A country with such a history, culture and civilisation will never kneel, it will always rise and be victorious, perhaps even in ways we cannot yet imagine.
God bless you all for your steadfastness and resilience, we owe you a forever debt of gratitude for preserving what humanity should really stand for.