Photo: The picturesque Cote d'Azur Beach in Syria’s Mediterranean coast.
The Cote d'Azur Beach (the Blue Beach), Syria's premier coastal resort on the Mediterranean coast, is adjacent to Ras Ibn Hani, an archaeological site, just eight kilometers north of Latakia city, the provincial capital and the heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect.
The entire area, including the beach used to be a busy tourist destination with some good hotels and holiday apartments that used to attract a good number of international tourists. But now the beach is a favorite location for only elite Syrian families and foreign soldiers stationed in Syria.
The bloody conflicts started in March 2011, as part of the Arab Spring which kick-started civil wars in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and in some other areas of the region.
When the protests started, the Syrian government deployed military to control rebels, and arrested hundreds of protesters. Several people allegedly died in clashes with the government forces. The area has a large presence of people of the Alawite sect, the sect of the incumbent President, Bashar al-Assad.
Russia has established a large electronic eavesdropping facility in Latakia, and the Khmeimim Air Base near Latakia has been made the main base of the Russian military in 2015. So, Latakia enjoys a special place in the government’s plans and actions and has been mostly less affected by the brutal war that has crippled the rest of the country.
As of 2016, the local people continue life as usual, in contrast to the death and destruction in rest of the country. While life here is still a beach party, the majority of Syrians are facing food shortage, starvation, terrorism and frequent airstrikes.
The Assad regime has a support base in the city's elite, and most of the regime forces are Alawite soldiers. For them the government had ensured enough wealth and comforts. Additionally, several thousand Russian soldiers based at Hmeimim Air Base also need entertainment and other perks for which they head to Latakia.
It’s Christmas, and sure there will be celebrations here, while majority of Syrians may be starving. There were reports of children eating grass and garbage to fight hunger.