1982 -  2006
A representative collection of our tour of duty in Syria and other visits
Damascus and Environs

Probably the most recognizable spot in Damascus - the Umayyad mosque

Satellite image of Syria

Satellite image of Damascus

Umayyad mosque interior

Umayyad mosque interior
Tomb of St John the Baptist

Main entrance to the Umayyad mosque

An entrance to the Umayyad mosque courtyard

Umayyad mosque  - Al-Khaznah (treasury)

Umayyad mosque interior
Tomb of St John the Baptist

Damascus Citadel at night

Entrance to the tomb of Saladin (Salah Ad-Din Al-Ayubi) 

Tomb of Saladin (right)


Al-Azam Palace


Rugs hanging from balconies to air out

Ottoman buildings

The Al-Azam Palace Courtyard

Ananias Chapel
Spot where Saul/Paul was healed
Just off the "Street Called Straight" (Madhat Bashah)

Ottoman buildings

Entrance to the Hamidiyah suq

"Brother driver -refrain from using the horn
from 1700 until 0700 - under penalty of arrest"

Olives for sale on the "Street Called Straight"

Abu Rumanah section - near U.S. Embassy


Doctors, a pharmacy and a beauty salon


Belly dancer

Historic Kanawat train station - part of the famed Hijaz Railway of the early 20th Century
One of the prettiest buildings in Damascus

Al-Kiswah train station
Note Hijaz railway station still in use

Hijaz railway
Abandoned Al-Khabab station 
Sitt Zaynab

Tomb of Zaynab - a Shi'a holy site just south of Damascus

Zaynab was the granddaughter of Muhammad, the daughter of Imam ĎAli (first imam and fourth caliph) and sister of Imam Husayn

Dome of the mosque


Aleppo - Northern Syria

The Crusader Citadel in Aleppo (Halab)

Mosque in Aleppo

Christian Church in Aleppo

Suq in Aleppo




Maronite Christian Cathedral in Aleppo

Pistachio and nut suq in Aleppo

Hamah - Homs - Coast

Water wheels (Nawriyah) of Hamah

Homs (Hims) - Khalid Ibn Al-Walid mosque

Qadesh, west of Homs
Site of the Battle of Qadesh, 1274BC between the Egyptians and Hittites

Mosque in Al-Qurdhahah 
Home of the Al-Asad Family

Homs - Christian church

Mediterranean coast

St Paul's Church - Tartus

Christian Sites

Crac de Chevaliers / Qala't Al-Husn
Crusader castle west of Homs - the finest example in existence

Crac de Chevaliers

Crac de Chevaliers

Baniyas - view from Marqab Castle

Marqab Castle

Masyaf Castle

San Simeon

San Simeon



Crac de Chevaliers

Crac de Chevaliers

Marqab Castle

Masyaf Castle

Masyaf Castle

Safita Tower

San Simeon



Convent at Saydnaya

Convent at Saydnaya

Convent at Saydnaya

Convent at Saydnaya

Convent at Saydnaya

The Road to Damascus
About 10 miles southwest of Syria on Route 7 (the road to al-Qunaytirah, the Golan Heigts and the Sea of Galilee is small town called 'Artuz.
Just east of 'Artuz there is a small chapel commemorating the spot when Paul underwent his conversion "on the road to Damascus."

I am posting a satellite image as there was a Syrian military facility (still visible) - photography was not permitted.

Roman Syria - Palmyra (Tadmur)






 Roman Syria - Apamea (Afamiyah)



Roman Syria - Busrah Ash-Sham







Golan Heights

Israeli reconnaissance flight over the Biqa Valley
Seen from Al-Qunaytirah, Golan Heights

Israeli electronic intelligence site - Har Avital, Golan Heights

Destroyed hospital - Al-Qunaytirah

"I am a son of Al-Qunaytirah"

Graffiti drawing of church - Al-Qunaytirah

UN Checkpoint - Al-Qunaytirah

Checkpoint on Syrian side of UN zone - Al-Qunaytirah

Golan Heights from Al-Qunaytirah

Satellite imagery of Israeli electronic intelligence site (left) 

Destroyed hospital interior - Al-Qunaytirah

Destroyed church - Al-Qunaytirah 

Destroyed church interior

Produce of Israel?

When last in Tel Aviv (as a guest of the Israelis), I had dinner at a restaurant with a senior Israeli army officer. The waitress asked if I would like to try some Israeli wine. Sure, why not?

I had been in Israel numerous times over the last three decades, and when I had tasted "Israeli" wine, it always turned out to be "from the Holy Land." That's Israeli political-speak for the West Bank - in other words, occupied Jordan or Palestine, depending on when I was there or what your opinion is, but certainly not Israel.

As you can see from the label, this wine is from the Golan Heights, specifically Mount Hermon, or as the Arabs call it, Jabal ash-Shaykh. I asked the waitress if she in fact meant Syrian wine. She shrugged and backed away with the "I'm not going there..." look..

Checkpoint on Israeli side of UN zone - Al-Qunaytirah

No caption necessary



Train station (1895) in az-Zabadani

Tomb of Abel, az-Zabadani


The Syrian Bride?
Emily dressed in Arab garb

Damascus taxi

Syrian ambulance

Syrian bedouin

Syrian bedouin


Southern Syria


Southern Syria

Az-Zabadani - a resort area near the Lebanese border

Tomb of Abel, az-Zabadani

A shurbaji - a drink dispenser

Dancing with Syrian friend Sana

Two women

Syrian bus

Syrian bedouin goat hair tents

Basalt terrain - southern Syria

Syrian postage stamps

Ahmad - our favorite merchant and rug dealer - most of our rugs came from his shop on "A Street Called Straight"

A local butcher slaughtering lambs for an feast



My journey to Syria - a solo six day drive across the desert - 1800 miles

The Defense Attache Office - Damascus 1994

Rick (right) and his Russian counterpart (left)

Presentation to Rick by Sergei
The banner reads: Armed Forces of Russia
The inscription reads: To Rick Francona for the collaborative work in Damascus, from your Russian colleagues, December 1994

Rick's Syrian driver's license

Rick's membership in the Damascus Shooting Club

Lapel pin - starts a conversation

Air Force One in Damascus
I am with the Syrian Air service manager

From a USAF crew ferrying the Secretary of State

Syrian Air Force IL-76 at Damascus

Syrian Air Force (yeah, I know it looks like Syrian airlines) YAK-40
Interesting flight....

Syrian Air Force VIP Tu-134 at Latakia
I flew from Latakia to Damascus with then-Minister of Foreign Affairs
Faruq Shara' and then-Ambassador to the U.S. Walid Mu'alim

Iranian Air Force 747 delivering supplies to Hizballah via Damascus

Syrian Army ZIL-131
The local attach
e corps joke was that the 131
the number of Syrian solidiers you could put into one

ZSU-23/4 antiaircraft gun - all over the country


Rick's business card in English and Arabic



Rick's pass for the Air Force One visit
issued by the Republican Guard


With Syrian Deputy Minister of Defense

Syrian antisubmarine helicopters at Latakia Airport/Humaymim air base

Syrian Air Force Mi-14 antisubmarine helicopter

Syrian Air Force 29th Brigade
Damascus International Airport (military ramp)

Syrian Air Force 29th Brigade
Damascus International Airport (military ramp)

Syrian Army post - GAZ-66 and ZIL-131 trucks
Arabic numeral test - the truck is 382116

A Syrian air base northeast of Damascus

Closeup of above Syrian air base northeast of Damascus

A Syrian air base south of Damascus - note MiG-21 tails

A Syrian air base east of Aleppo - note three MiG-23's

A Syrian air base in the desert of central Syria

The Presidential Falcon 900 landing at Damascus - 1994

Syrian Air Force IL-76M YK-ATA prior to the conversion to an IL-76T

Syrian Air Force An-26 (CURL) YK-ANC - do not be fooled by the Syrianair colors.
Note the long wire antennas and numerous pods.... I think this is an airborne radio relay birds

Syrian MiG-23ML (Flogger G) #2755 on final approach at a Syrian air base
You have to be careful taking pictures like this in Syria

Islamic Republic of Iran B-747 tanker delivering supplies to Hizballah at Damascus International Airport