11 Apr 2013

Shocking footage from Syria to make us stop and think

It is the simplest thing to want to do in theory. It is the most incredibly difficult to do in practice.

To go to Syria and once there, try to speak to both sides of the war in the same place, where people are fighting each other from positions perhaps one mile apart, day in, day out.

God knows, I can speak from personal experience on how difficult and dangerous it is to achieve.

Next week Channel 4 will broadcast a truly remarkable film which will do just that in a way I guarantee you will not have seen before. I urge anybody who wonders what this war has now become, to sit down, turn off the mobile and watch.

Olly Lambert’s film is an extraordinary achievement. I will have more to say next week.

But for tonight, on the day Human Rights Watch accuses the Syrian air force of multiple war crimes in bombing civilian areas, extracts from Olly Lambert’s film give you a terrifying, up-close sense of what it is like to be in a village when the government MiGs come over on a bombing run.

It all raises grave questions – but the accusation of war crimes is the obvious and easy bit. Things are never so simple.

There are questions too for the various rebel groups who clearly live in, fight from, and take cover in, civilian villages and towns.

Be in no doubt if this happened in the US, would Washington not carpet-bomb Detroit housing projects full of al-Qaeda gunmen? Would the British government not blitz rebel held housing estates inĀ  Wolverhampton?

The film shows that brutal reality. So just when you want to scream and point the finger, you pause. This is stop and think television and you will have a first glimpse on the programme tonight.

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Channel 4 Dispatches Syria: Across the Lines will be broadcast at 10pm on 17 April


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