Middle East

Twitter Q&A: Jeremy Bowen answers your questions

Jeremy Bowen

Over the last few months the ongoing situation in Syria has been dominated by the battle against Islamic State militants.

Almost four years after the crisis started, more than 190,000 people have been killed, half the population has been left displaced and large swathes of the country lie in ruin.

The crisis in Syria has been called "the biggest humanitarian test of the 21st Century".

The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen answered some of your questions on Syria in a live Twitter Q&A.

This is an edited version of the session:

@CyberSymphonic asks the question: How do Syria's early rebels feel about the civil war in their nation? Angry, sad, worried?

Jeremy says: The early rebels feel disappointed and let down by those they thought would help, especially the West.

Ian emails: Is an Assad victory now the least or worst outcome for the West?

Jeremy replies: The only good outcome in Syria is peace with the people deciding what happens next. Foreigners can't do it.

@OmarDakhane tweets: Has the so-called "revolution" caused more harm to Syrians than any good it may bring in the future?

Jeremy says: Too early to say. The worst may lie ahead. Sorry to be downbeat.

@elf_herself asks: How do you stay sane, reporting pointless war after pointless war, year after year?

Jeremy answers: It takes an emotional toll. It is a tough way to earn a living.

@LakoliKaramogo asks a question: Has the war against the IS made an impact in the Syrian Revolution?

Jeremy says: Hard to say what the Syrian revolution is these days. Early hopes have gone. Looking more like Jihadists versus Assad.

@JosephAtaman tweets: Is there a future for foreign correspondents who don't speak the languages of their regions of focus.

Jeremy answers: Always a future for good journalists. Translators don't necessarily make good reporters.

@JohnHorneUK asks: The BBC often uses the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) for information on Syria. How do you verify their reports?

Jeremy answers: BBC tries very hard to verify everything we quote. If not possible, it's important to attribute statements.

Pancha Chandra writes: President Assad has been able to ride rough-shod over all opposition. Why is it so difficult to remove him?

Jeremy answers: Mainly because allies and Syrian army stayed loyal. He has genuine support among some Syrians and the opposition are disunited.

Steven Nicklin emails: Is the Syrian government picking up costs incurred by its neighbours in caring for its citizens? If not, why not?

Jeremy answers: I would be amazed if they were. You'd have to ask President Assad's people about spending decisions.

@happymargy tweets: Do you need Assad's permission to report from inside Syria?

Jeremy replies: In Damascus we need visas and accreditation. We need permission from the army or the Ministry of Information for some trips.

@AngelaRubiMarti asks the question: Why aren't other Gulf and Arab states acting to help end this conflict?

Jeremy says: I think the way every side that has intervened in this war, Arab or western, has helped prolong the killing.

Abu Al Harith on Facebook asks: Has the Syrian people's perception of the revolution changed over the past three years, and how?

Jeremy replies: Not all saw it as a revolution or wanted one. Those who did are mostly disenchanted or dead. Hopes for more freedom have gone for now.

@Rerbadiyow tweets: Do the Syrian people feel that they 'own' the ongoing struggle or they see it as a foreign agenda?

Jeremy says: Government soldiers and rebels both told me they're fighting for their family and country as well as the future. They like foreigners who support them.

Noura Dana on Facebook asks: Do you see an end to the conflict in Syria? And how do you think it will eventually end if it does?

Jeremy replies: Not in the foreseeable future. The United Nations Security Council is paralysed on Syria. No decisive military advantage for any side. recipe for more war.

@Rickoza asks a question: What do you do to relax in such a hostile place Jeremy? How do you manage to detach or is that possible?

Jeremy answers: I exercise, drink wine, eat good food, and try to sleep if possible. Often impossible.

For more tweets from Jeremy Bowen you can follow his Twitter account.

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