“WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? THE WESTERN LEFT’S OBSESSION WITH EMPIRE”–DANNY HAIPHONG

In Gaza

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(Meme by Eva Bartlett.

“From 50:24 in this video, Ambassador al-Ja’afari: “…too many ambassadors of the United Nations, they come to me and they say, “You know, Bashar, you are right. Your government is right. We know the truth, but we cannot say it. You can God bless you but we cannot say it.” )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3LTTbOYVfU&feature=youtu.be

Apr 18, 2017, Black Agenda Report

-by Danny Haiphong

“The anti-war left’s attachment to the anti-Assad narrative is based in a colonial mentality which presumes that Westerners have the right to determine the destinies of peoples residing in what was formerly known as the Third World.”

The Trump Administration’s decision to conduct tomahawk missile strikes on a Syrian Arab Army airfield prompted activists in the US to hit the streets in protest. Protesters marched and spoke out against the airstrikes, which killed over a dozen Syrian soldiers on April 6th. The strikes come amidst intense pressure on the Trump Administration to abandon his campaign promises to ease relations with Russia and end regime change policy in the Middle East. In the days prior to the strike, Trump removed Steve Bannon as a formal leader in the National Security Council. Then, an alleged chemical weapons attack hit Idlib province, prompting President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to reverse their position that the future of the Syrian government rested in the hands of the Syrian people. Once again, the anti-war movement was put to the test.

The Western left struggles with the question of war because its ideology is rooted in the social relations of imperialism. In the US in particular, the social relations produced by over two centuries of white supremacist war on Black and indigenous peoples has cemented the notion that all who fall outside of the flexible spectrum of whiteness can be made expendable at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, war has historically advanced the level of development in the US. While World War II destroyed much of Europe, the US came out of the rubble with the most prosperous capitalist economy on the planet. This only intensified the thirst for war among the ruling elites. The US military took advantage of capitalist prosperity by turning its guns toward former European and Japanese colonies in East Asia, beginning with the carpet-bombing of Korea from 1950-1953.

Now fast forward to 2017. The US is hotly involved in a war to destabilize the Syrian government. Since 2011, there has been a wall-to-wall corporate media attack on Syria that paints the Syrian government as a murderous dictatorship led by President Bashar Al-Assad. Assad has been accused of “killing his own people” with the most ruthless of methods. In 2013, the Obama Administration accused President Assad of using sarin gas on civilians in Ghouta. Journalist Seymour Hersh eventually corroborated what US intelligence likely warned Obama at the time: that the gas attack was the work of “rebels” (terrorists) who were supplied by an intricate rat line network involving Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The world was destined for another US military confrontation that year when Russia stepped in to diffuse the situation.

Anti-war activists find themselves in a very similar predicament almost four years later. Throughout the duration of the war on Syria, strong lines have been drawn on the question of the Syrian government’s future. A small segment of the anti-war left has defended Syria’s right to self-determination. Others have done extensive work, such as Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, traveling to Syria and documenting concrete evidence that contradicts the corporate media narrative of the conflict. Indeed, much evidence suggests that the so-called “rebels” are merely jihadist mercenary groups sponsored by the Empire’s many players. Washington and its corporate masters have been foaming at the mouth to bring Syria to heel since at least 2001, when the secular government was placed on a list with six other countries targeted for destabilization.

However, rather than defend Syria’s self-determination, many in the West have bought into the imperialist narrative. This includes a large section of what passes for the left in the Western world. Jacobin, for example, calls itself a leading voice on the American Left but has historically aligned with US imperialism. After April 7th’s US airstrikes, Jacobin posted a statement about why opposing Assad matters too. The statement falsely compares Palestine’s struggle against Israeli occupation with the mythical struggle of the Syrian people against President Bashar Al-Assad.

Of course, Jacobin fails to provide any proof that the Syrian people are in fact waging a struggle to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad. No mention of the Syrian government’s decades-long solidarity with Palestinian resistance is cited.

Jacobin repeats the imperialist line that Assad is murdering “his own people” and causing hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee the country. Yet the statement omits the fact that Assad was reelected with nearly ninety percent of the vote in 2014. Also left out are the reputable opinion polls that prove President Assad is more popular than any other force operating in Syria at the moment. Jacobin instead throws its weight behind the jihadists waging holy war in Syria on behalf of US imperialism and its junior partners.

Since the fall of Libya, tens of thousands of jihadists have flooded into Syria to overthrow the Syrian government. The jihadists have been given both air and media cover from the US-led coalition operating in Syria. In September of 2016, the US coalition bombed an airport in Deir ez-Zor, killing around 100 Syrian soldiers. The airstrikes gave ISIS cover to lay siege to the area and claim additional territory. And for over five years, sources such as Amnesty International and the US-UK-French funded White Helmets have peddled the narrative that the Syrian Arab Army has been massacring Syrians even as evidence suggests that NGOS such as the White Helmets are completely embedded in the membership of Al-Qaeda affiliated, head chopping organizations.

That Jacobin condemns Washington’s failure to transfer anti-aircraft weaponry to the jihadists yet ignores all of the evidence against Washington’s official narrative on Syria should make clear where the “leading voice” of the left stands. History completely contradicts their narrative. Washington and its allies have never come to the aid of the oppressed in their struggles for liberation. Rather, it has acted as the primary dictator of imperialism’s rabid exploitation of the sovereign nations. What Jacobin essentially demands is a brand of “internationalism” that arms and funds head-chopping, imperialist-backed mercenaries at the expense of the Syrian people.

Such a distortion of internationalism is in keeping with the infantile state of the anti-war left in the US. The anti-war left’s attachment to the anti-Assad narrative is based in a colonial mentality which presumes that Westerners have the right to determine the destinies of peoples residing in what was formerly known as the Third World. It is the same mentality that drives the criminalization of Black America, reducing mass incarceration and police murder to products of the innate criminality of Black people. The white supremacist, colonialist worldview is the most useful tool in the imperialist toolbox. When wielded properly, the vast majority of so-called progressives can be herded to disseminate pro-war propaganda without the added labor cost associated with direct infiltration by the state.

Many questions arise from the behavior of those individuals and organizations caught in the ideological web of US imperialism. Is Jacobin’s support for the overthrow of the Syrian government at all beneficial to workers and oppressed people in the US and West? Do their conclusions about Syria stem from verified study of the objective conditions in the region and its relevant historical context? Can anti-imperialists really occupy neutral space between the dialectic of imperialist war and self-determination for the oppressed? Or is such an attempt merely a cleverly disguised project meant to legitimize the very imperialist system that the left claims to oppose? The answer to these questions will depend on the recipient, but the fact they must be asked indicates that the US anti-war movement needs serious reconstruction.

There may not be time for such an overhaul barring a significant change in the objective situation in the US and West. Recent developments over the course of five years suggest that at any given moment, the world struggle against imperialism could transform into a global military confrontation between the big powers. The threat of US military escalation in Syria cannot be isolated within a national context. Russia and Iran’s presence in Syria ensures that any US move to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad by direct military means will have an impact far beyond Syria’s borders. Solidarity with Syria against US-sponsored war is thus of utmost importance for the future of humanity. However, don’t expect the Western, white dominated left to drop its chauvinistic worldview anytime soon. The task of ending imperialism will have to rest on the shoulders of a new anti-war movement, one based on the respect of self-determination for all oppressed peoples and an internationalist worldview that connects exploitation within US borders to the ceaseless war imperialism wages from without.

Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com
Danny Haiphong’s blog

RELATED LINKS:

Statement of Palestinian groups and individuals in the occupied homeland, refugee camps and the diaspora about the global war on Syria (with over 1100 Palestinian signatories, including prominent Palestinians such as His Eminence Theodosios (Atallah) Hanna, Archbishop, Greek Orthodox Diocese of Sebastia, Jerusalem and Palestinian Popular Forum, Yarmouk, Syria)

Stealing Palestine: Who dragged Palestinians into Syria’s conflict, by Sharmine Narwani, Nov 10, 2014

Syrians Flock to Vote in Lebanon, by Eva Bartlett, May 30, 2014

The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn’t, by Stephen Gowans, Oct 22, 2016

Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’, by Eva Bartlett, March 7, 2016

Why Syrians Support Bashar al Assad, by Prof. Tim Anderson, Sep 30, 2014

Decriminalising Bashar – towards a more effective anti-war movement, by Carlos Martinez, Sep 23, 2013

The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels, Apr 17, 2014

DR. EDWARD RHYMES’ #INDEPENDENTMEDIAMONDAY W/: EVA BARTLETT

In Gaza

Dr. Edward Rhymes hosted me on April 24 to talk about Syria and related issues. He is an informed and compassionate host, a genuine pleasure to speak with and hear. Please consider supporting his media initiative, Rhymes Media Group on Patreon!

Listen to the discussion HERE.

April 24, 2017, Rhymes Media Group (on BlogTalk Radio) wrote:

“…our, very special guest, was independent journalist extraordinaire, Eva Karene Bartlett. We talked about her personal journey from political disinterest to engaged advocacy journalist.

Eva and Dr. Rhymes also discussed the war on Syria, the sham-humanitarian organization the White Helmets, Israeli oppression of Palestine and the Orwellian-Octopus of the Entrenched-Interests Media and the need for independent and alternative media. Be sure to listen this gentle warrior as she gives her profound insights on so many issues of the day.

Thanks for stopping by Rhymes Media Group, and thanks for listening to #IndependentMediaMonday.

RMG appreciates your support. if you’re not, as of yet, a patron, please consider becoming one.

JIMMY DORE SHOW: “REPORTER ACTUALLY IN S-Y-R-I-A EXPOSES MEDIA LIES ABOUT EVERYTHING “

In Gaza

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Very pleased to have been on Jimmy Dore’s show. I have a lot of respect for Jimmy, unabashedly speaking truth on Syria and many other issues–in fact, he has paid a price with Youtube demonetizing his videos. [On that note, how you can support his work:
▶Become a PATRON▶  https://www.patreon.com/jimmydore]


May 4, 2017, The Jimmy Dore Show

RELATED LINKS:

-This reporter, who actually was in Syria, exposes media lies about everything (Video), Alex Christoforou, May 5, 2017, The Duran

-Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors, Eva Bartlett, Aug 14, 2016, SOTT.net

-Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed Rebels Target ‘Every Syrian’, Eva Bartlett, Nov 29, 2016,  MintPress News

-“Zeinab, she was forced to watch the massacre of 116 children”–Vanessa Beeley on Terrorists’ Massacre of Foua Kafraya civilians, In Gaza

-The Guardian view on Aleppo: More Western lies about Syria, Eva Bartlett, Sep 8, 2016, SOTT.net

*mentioned: [Syrian Militants Have Access to Chlorine Gas: Plant Owner, Apr 1, 2013, NTI

“Radical Islamist militants have access to large quantities of chlorine gas that might have been used last month in a lethal strike near the Syrian city of Aleppo, Time magazine reported on Monday.”

“No one can know for certain, but if it turns out chlorine gas was used in the attack, then the first possibility is that it was mine,” Sabbagh said. “There is no other factory in Syria that can make this gas, and now it is under opposition control.”]

Related Articles

 

“EVA BARTLETT DISCUSSES THE POWER OUTAGE AND DAILY ABUSES IN GAZA”, ANC REPORT (AUDIO)

Apr 30, 2017, ANC Report
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Thanks to Ryan Dawson for having me on to talk about the hell that is life in Gaza, as well as the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners, and solidarity with Syria.
(*Please note: webcam might be closer than it appears… Sorry for the close-up, some sort of setting or his recording program issue, I suppose.*)

Listen to the discussion HERE

*

Some points mentioned and related links:

*Gaza Electricity/Sewage Crises and Related*
-Ry Dawson and Robert Inlakesh speak about Gaza
-UN predictions fall short: Gaza uninhabitable today, Dec 21, 2014, RT Op-Edge, (longer version on blog)

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“Today we went with Beit Hanoun ‘Local Initiative’ volunteers to retrieve the long-decomposed body of a man who didn’t live to see his own 19th birthday.
Ahmed Abu Hashish disappeared on April 21st. His family believed that he had been killed somewhere in the north-eastern border region, the israeli-imposed ‘buffer zone’ where Zionist soldiers routinely shoot at Palestinian farmers and residents. Since then, his parents and others have searched, unsuccessfully, for his body, fearing the worst.
Sixteen of us (family, local rights activists and volunteers from Beit Hanoun, and international accompaniment ) set out this morning to comb the land for the missing youth. The terrain is dry weeds and tall, prickly scrub, making walking difficult.
We accompanied the father -Abu Ayesh- and a local who knew the area well, filming and attempting to convey to the soldiers shooting at us from jeeps that we had come to retrieve a corpse.
The shooting, along with 2 loud explosions, likely sound grenades, became more intense and closer when the body was actually spotted and the team started to load it onto a white sheet. As we quickly loaded Ahmed Abu Hashish onto his cloth stretcher, the shooting continued.
Abu Ayesh had been further off, and thankfully missed the scene of his son’s body, 54 days decomposed, falling apart, head falling off.
Nearly 2 months after his death, the anguish of the Ahmed Abu Hashish family is great, his body desecrated by the elements, they denied access to it due to the threat of being shot by israeli soldiers at the border –who indeed did shoot when we retrieved the body….”
*List of many of my own links/writings/photos from/on Gaza here:

*Palestinian Political Prisoners*

“…the Strike of Freedom and Dignity has a series of demands, including an end to the denials of family visits, appropriate medical care and treatment for ill Palestinian prisoners, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.”
“The strike has been met with sharp repression by the Israeli prison administration, which has denied legal visits to the vast majority of hunger strikers, cut off family visits, confiscated prisoners’ clothing and blankets, subjected strikers to frequent raids and abusive transfers from one prison to another, isolated hunger strike leaders in solitary confinement and even confiscated salt from hunger strikers according to many reports. Hunger strikers take only salt and water during their strikes.
Repressive units continued to attack the prisoners in Ayalon Ramle prison on Friday, 28 April, after transferring a number of leaders of the hunger strike to isolation cells in this prison…”
*
Addameer Prisoner Support:
“Approximately 6,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including approximately 300 children and nearly 550 held under administrative detention, a form of detention without charge or trial that Israel uses to hold Palestinians indefinitely on secret information.
Each year the Israeli military arrests thousands of Palestinians in an attempt to suppress any resistance to its continued occupation and apartheid policies. Among these are hundreds of children, some as young as 12 years old. In too many cases Palestinian children are tortured, ill-treated, placed in solitary confinement and coerced into signing a confession in Hebrew, a language which most Palestinian children do not understand. Every year approximately 500-700 children are sentenced in Israeli courts.
Night raids are the most common form of arrest, during which Israeli soldiers will ransack an individual’s house, destroying personal property and abusing physically abusing family members. The arrested person will then be handcuffed and blindfolded before being thrown into the back of an Israeli military jeep, face-down, where the beatings, insults, and humiliation will continue.
Under Israeli military law, Palestinians can be interrogated for a period of 75 days and denied access to a lawyer for 60 days. Since 1967, approximately 75 Palestinian detainees have died as a result of torture while under Israeli interrogation.
*
-“Alliance of Convenience: Why Israel Supports ISIS?” ( Syriana Analysis VIDEO)

“ZEINAB, SHE WAS FORCED TO WATCH THE MASSACRE OF 116 CHILDREN”–VANESSA BEELEY ON TERRORISTS’ MASSACRE OF FOUA KAFRAYA CIVILIANS

In Gaza

Apr 21, 2017, UK Column News

21st Century Wire’s Vanessa Beeley speaks to Mike Robinson about the recent murder of children enticed off a bus with the promise of food. This was the most obscene war crime and brings the conflict in Syria to a new low.

At the centre of it all are Boris Johnson sponsored White Helmets. Please share this video, and with a general election in the UK, ask some hard questions of all prospective MPs.

Read more here:

RASHIDEEN MASSACRE: Children Lured to their Slaughter by NATO State Terrorists

21st Century Wire says…

On April 15th 2017, the people of Kafarya and Foua were attacked, their children mown down deliberately, by a suicide bomb or expolosive detonation, that targeted these innocent children who had been lured to their deaths by NATO and Gulf state terrorists, including Ahrar al Sham and Nusra Front (Al Qaeda). Mothers had to watch from behind the windows of the buses they had been imprisoned in for 48 hours, while strangers, terrorists, picked up their children, their wounded, bleeding, mutilated children, and piled them up in the backs of trucks and Turkish ambulances before driving them away from the horrific scene and stealing them from their distraught, powerless mothers.

Zeinab

“This is Zeinab, she was forced to watch the massacre of 116 children through the windows of a bus while the NATO and Gulf state terrorists, collected the dead, dying and mutilated bodies of her community’s children and flung them in the back of trucks and Turkish ambulances, before driving them to Turkey. She has 10 members of her family still missing. She has no idea where they are.

She gave her courageous and emotional testimony to us in Jebrin registration centre, where the survivors of the 15th April, suicide bomb attack, were taken for shelter after this horrific event, described by CNN as a “hiccup”.

I speak about part of her testimony with RT yesterday who also used my interviews in their news feed. Unlike corporate media, RT investigate these atrocities and honour the voices of the Syrian people.

Telegraph
The Telegraph edited out this appalling and callous phrasing immediately after the RT interview.

The Telegraph described the dead Syrian babies as “Syrian Government supporters” in an attempt to whitewash the UK Regime terrorist crimes by proxy and to erase the existence of these innocent children from our consciousness..by the familiar dehumanization process that we have witnessed every time the various NATO and Gulf state extremist carry out mass murder of Syrian civilians.” ~ Vanessa Beeley

(Photo: Tommy Bergset Solvedt)

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Bombed out remains of one of the buses that had been carrying evacuated civilians from Kafarya and Foua to Rashideen holding centre. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Vanessa Beeley, associate editor at 21st Century Wire, was present at the scene and provided video footage of the witness and survivor testimony to RT for use in the news section. She also spoke to RT about the heartbreaking accounts given to her by Zeinab, a mother, from these besieged Idlib villages of Kafarya and Foua, who had seen the carnage and who still has 10 missing relatives, who were taken to Turkey by the waiting ambulances.  A full report, and subtitled video will follow shortly, when internet and time allows, but for now, here is the report from RT and the interview at the end of the report.

For more details on Kafarya and Foua please read Eva Bartlett’s article: The Children of Kafarya and Foua are Crying in the Dark

RT Report:

Terrorists lured evacuees out of buses with snacks before blast – Aleppo attack witnesses:

Eyewitnesses to the bomb attack on a refugee convoy near Aleppo that killed dozens of children said the militants lured people out of the vehicles with snacks before the explosion, and also stopped them from escaping the blast site.

A powerful explosion hit several buses full of people leaving militant-held towns and villages outside Aleppo last Saturday, killing over 100 people, including dozens of children, and injuring scores more.

Following the attack, Vanessa Beeley of the 21st Century Wire website gathered first-hand accounts from those who survived the assault. People told her that the militants did their utmost to increase the death toll. The exclusive videos she provided to RT shed more light on the incident.

“Just before the explosion, a strange car got from the militants’ checkpoint. They said they were bringing snacks for children,” the bus driver who was in the convoy said.

“Then they got out of the car and started shouting, ‘Who has children? Who has children?’”

The driver said the militants knew for sure that the children “haven’t seen biscuits and crisps for so long” as they were under siege. “People have been stuck in buses for 48 hours as the rebels didn’t let us out,” he noted. A woman said that she and other evacuees were held in the buses “like prisoners,” adding that they were only allowed to get out and stretch 10 minutes before the explosion.

Many people, including children, left the buses and approached the car when the blast hit the convoy.

One of evacuees said that the militants “were throwing potato chips on the site of the future blast. One of the terrorists said that it was food for the infidels.”

The driver recalled that “there were Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra [Al-Nusra Front], and some factions of the Free Syrian Army [FSA]…”

According to another witness, “the Ahrar ash-Sham fighters didn’t hide their faces, while Jabhat al-Nusra were always wearing masks. One could only see their eyes,” one of the eyewitnesses said.

WARNING:Graphic and distressing footage from the attack ~

There were many foreigners among the terrorists – “Uzbeks, Turks, people from Chechnya, Saudis and Qataris. One could judge on their appearance; their language,” another evacuee added.

“When the blast rocked the area, people rushed into the woods but militants surrounded them and forced back to the buses,” the bus driver said.

A female evacuee recalled that “the militants told us that terrorists from another group were shelling our buses and that we must flee towards the bushes… but then they said that the bushes were mined and found ourselves trapped.”

Another woman also told Beeley that even before the explosion, four yellow Turkish ambulances were present at the scene for some reason. After the blast, the ambulances started picking up the dead and injured, only to take them to an unknown location.

“We don’t know where they [the children] are. They’re gone. There are no bodies. We’ve searched for them, but with no result,” one of the witnesses said.

Many relatives of those missing still know nothing of their whereabouts, other witnesses said. Some people told Beeley that the controversial White Helmets were also seen at the blast site, retrieving bodies of Al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham militants, but apparently leaving injured civilians.

Beeley, who has consistently covered the Syrian war, also filmed people’s testimonies about their escape from the rebel-held areas. The evacuees boarded the buses on Friday in the Rashideen neighborhood of Aleppo, but were not allowed out of the vehicles for nearly three days.

Many of them, however, were happy to leave as “this place turned into a terrorists’ hotbed,” one woman said.

[Some] international organizations have already condemned the attack on the humanitarian convoy in the strongest terms.

“We must draw from this not only anger, but renewed determination to reach all the innocent children throughout Syria with help and comfort,” said UNICEF’s executive director, Anthony Lake.

“And draw from it also the hope that all those with the heart and the power to end this war will do so.”

However, Beeley told RT that not many in the West followed the UN’s example in decrying the attack.

“We’ve just witnessed one of the most heinous crimes of our lifetime, and yet corporate… there’s no international condemnation from governments, from NGOs, from the media,” she said.

On the contrary, the media is making an attempt to “whitewash this utterly abhorrent” incident, in which, according to Beeley’s information, 116 children lost their lives.

Full video interview. Watch ~

***

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

READ MORE KAFARYA AND FOUA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Kafarya and Foua Files

READ MORE ON THE WHITE HELMETS AT: 21st Century Wire White Helmet Files

Other Related Links:

Kevork Almassian of Syriana Analysis: Video Analysis: MSM & Al-Qaeda Presstitutes Gone Disgusting Over Kafriya Massacre

-Eva Bartlett: The Children of Kafarya and Foua are Crying in the Dark

Vanessa Beeley writings on Kafraya and Foua

-Eva Bartlett: Untold Suffering in Foua and Kafraya: Two Northwestern Syrian Villages Under Siege and Assault by NATO’s Terrorists Part 1

-Eva Bartlett: Untold Suffering in Foua and Kafarya-Part 2

U.S. Not Outraged With Terrorist Who Lured Children With Food, Then Blew Them Up”

By Eva Bartlett

April 20, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  “In Gaza” – With thanks to Jimmy Dore for his continued honest, brave commentary. He is well-informed and not afraid to speak the truth about what’s happening in Syria, the media lies, the culprit states, the loaded lexicon. His information is spot on, save the initial mention that the evacuation was not in Raqqa but from Idlib’s Foua and Kafraya villages to Aleppo, via terrorist-occupied areas, and the terrorists comprise not just al-Nusra but also members of the terror coalitions of  Jaysh al-Fattah (the so-called “Army of Conquest”), and Ahrar al-Sham (Liberation of the Levant Movement) along with other “moderates” of the umbrella organization Jabhat al-Islamiyah (the Islamic Front)

That caveat aside, Dore critically calls out the media liars, the presstitutes, for their blatant lies, their obfuscations, their intentionally misleading lexicon: ‘rebels’ ‘regime’ ‘hiccup’… (“Hiccup?? Despite this hiccup? So, when we thought it was Assad gassing kids—which was not even 126 of them—so, when somebody working with us kills 80 kids, on purpose, blows civilians trying to leave a war zone, that was agreed to, it’s a ‘hiccup’…) and the war propaganda. “It couldn’t be more obvious to me that the way the media is reporting, especially the United States, referring to terrorists as ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘rebels’ or ‘moderates’…they’re ‘moderate’ crazy people…”

Listen for yourself, and please share his video

*A note: latest updates put the number of murdered civilians from al-Foua and Kafraya at well over 100 (on the ground source actually says 200 civilians killed, of whom 116 children. Waiting for confirmation).

Related info on the murder of Foua and Kafraya civilians, by the west’s mercenaries: No ‘Red Lines’ After Western Backed Terrorists Massacre of Idlib’s Foua Civilians

Related info on the unsubstantiated accusations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun: MIT Professor Emeritus Dispels Lies of White House ‘Intelligence’ Report on Khan Shaykhun, Syria

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

 

AL NUSRA SAFELY EVACUATES FROM AL-WAER, HOMS (DAYS AFTER TERRORISTS MASSACRE OVER 100 CIVILIAN EVACUEES OF FOUA AND KAFRAYA)

Source

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Photo by Vanessa Beeley, who writes: “The look of hate. A Nusra Front terrorist waits in Al Waer, Homs to board the buses that will take them to safety in Idlib and then Turkey, the destination of their choice. Syrian Government justice and Amnesty compared to UK/US/NATO insanity”

British independent journalist Vanessa Beeley was on April 18 with an international delegation in al-Waer, Homs, during the 5th evacuation of terrorists of al-Nusra and other militants occupying the area for years.
In March 2017, Syrian journalist Mohamed Ali reported from al-Waer, during one of the earlier evacuations, noting that the evacuation was being done by Syrian Red Crescent, Russian military police and Syrian security personnel and that no UN personnel were involved.

Regarding that evacuation, Syrian media, SANA, reported:

“150 persons from al-Wa’er neighborhood in Homs had their status settled according to amnesty decree No. 15 for 2016 and in light of the reconciliation agreement reached last Monday.

Over 1400 gunmen and members of their families, who rejected to join the agreement, have left al-Waer neighborhood on the western outskirts of Homs city.

They left for the northern countryside of Homs province in the framework of implementing the reconciliation agreement that was reached in the neighborhood, paving the way for the return of all the governmental institutions to it.”

Of the April 18 evacuation, Vanessa Beeley wrote:
“Today in Al Waer, Homs we witnessed the evacuation of Nusra Front fighters and families to Jarablus and then Turkey. Under the Syrian government Amnesty and Reconciliation agreement they were able to leave with their weapons, safely to their destination of choice. In stark contrast to the horrific treatment of civilian evacuees from Kafarya and Foua who were massacred in Rashideen by a suicide bombing carried out by US funded extremists. We in the ‘civilized’ west bring barbarism to a country that is consistently demonstrating the meaning of true civilization, dignity and humanity…They were successfully taken to Idlib as a first step on their way to Turkey, under the Syrian government Amnesty and Reconciliation policy, 2010 people have been evacuated from Al Waer, including 519 Nusra front terrorists.”
[Related: Vanessa Beeley’s “Images from after Rashideen massacre, buses and survivors who were taken to Jebrin after NATO and Gulf state terrorists had torn their lives apart.”

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[My article: No ‘Red Lines’ After US-Backed Terrorists Massacre Idlib’s Foua Civilians]

Of the April 18 evacuation, SANA reported:
“Homs Governorate on Tuesday finished the evacuation of the fifth batch of militants and some of their families from the western parts of al-Waer neighborhood in a step towards clearing the neighborhood of weapons and militants and restoring state establishments to it. 
SANA reporter said that the fifth batch included 519 militants and hundreds of their families who reject the reconciliation agreement. The reporter added that 55 buses transported the militants and their families towards the northeastern countryside of Aleppo under the supervision of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the Internal Security Forces and the Russian Military Police. 
On Monday afternoon, the fifth batch of militants and some of their families started to leave al-Waer neighborhood as Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi stressed that by the end of the current month the reconciliation agreement in al-Waer neighborhood will be accomplished completely to start the rehabilitation of the damaged facilities and infrastructure inside the neighborhood…”
More al-Waer photos by Vanessa Beeley:

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*
 In December 2015 I visited al-Waer. Even while al-Nusra and other terrorists occupied al-Waer, the Syrian government was sending in food and medicine, providing bread, and services like electricity and water were better than in greater Aleppo under bombardment from terrorists.
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On that December visit, I wrote:

Listening to my recording from en route to al-Waer, Homs, a couple of weeks ago. The Syrian journalist from Damascus with me cautions:

“We should be more careful now, because everyone on the other side can see us very well.”

I asked how many terrorists remained. A Homs journalist, Hayat, tells me:

“There are those (terrorists) who did not want to participate in the Reconciliation, to leave al-Waer. The people who left were 447 civilians and 100 fighters (without guns) who left with a civilian convoy; 172 fighters (with guns) left–those fighters don’t want to make Reconciliation with the government. 20 wounded (fighters and civilians) needing emergency care left in ambulances. Around 2,200 or more fighters remain in al-Waer.”

Getting closer to al-Waer, the driver teases, “shall we enter?” “We are in the front-line now,” he says. Hayat, gets serious, saying:

“It’s not safe, at any moment they could do anything, break the ceasefire.”

The Damascus journalist with me says, “We are beside the fighters, we are too close to the fighters now, we must be careful.”

We arrive at the last military checkpoint, the entrance to al-Waer.

The bread factory at the entrance to al-Waer produces the bread for the population within, wheat provided by the Syrian government.

According to Hayat, the Homs journalist I was with, although 292 terrorists (as well as 447 civilians) left al-Waer in a December agreement, 2200+ terrorists remain within al-Waer, with another 150,000 civilians–from a population that was 750,000. The Syrian government continues to supply not only wheat/bread, but also electricity and water, although according to Hayat, the people inside do not pay:

“They don’t pay for power, water… the area is not under control of government. Fighters don’t allow people to pay—in order to cripple the government. If people paid and were found out, fighters would kill them.”

*At the end of this clip, Hayat is telling me that the people from inside al-Waer will come to get the bread, and that the boy in the background is from al-Waer.

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Tariq, a Palestinian resident of al-Waer, born in 1957, is originally from Akka. Of his life in Syria, he (like every other Palestinian friend or person I’ve met in Syria) told me: “The Syrian government treats me as well as a Syrian.”

**In this photo, he was picking up bread to take back to his family in al-Waer (who called his mobile as we spoke, concerned about where he was since he had taken longer than usual, stopping to talk with me).

Related: A 2014 article on Reconciliation movement in Syria, including an interview with the Minister of Reconciliation, Dr. Ali Haidar.

In contrast to the long-occupied al-Waer, the Old City of Homs saw terrorists evacuated to elsewhere in Syria in May 2014, enabling residents of Homs to start to rebuild their lives, the reign of terror for them over. Excerpts from my June 2014 visit to Old Homs, interviewing survivors of the terrorists’ occupation:

 Some of those residents who had stayed on in the Old City of Homs during the siege talked to IPS about their ordeals and losses at the hands of armed groups, including Nusra and Farooq brigades. Many of them argued that what had happened in Homs was not revolution, as Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt had argued before he was assassinated, just one month before Homs was liberated.

  

“I was baptised in this church, got married in it, and baptised my children in it,” said Abu Nabeel, a resident of Homs’ Old City. The St. George Church, with its crumbling walls, is one of 11 reported destroyed in the Old City. It no longer has its wooden ceiling and ornately-carved wooden ceiling panels and wall lattice lie in heaps outside the ancient church.

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“Most of the damage is from the last days just before the insurgents left,” he said. “But we’ll rebuild.” That rebuilding has already begun, with residents scraping away rubble and re-paving small areas that had been damaged.

The arched interior of the St. Mary’s Church (Um al-Zinnar) bears the char marks of its burning by retreating insurgents. Like many others, the church was looted of objects and vandalised, with the insurgents leaving sectarian graffiti on the walls. “Symbols related to Christianity were removed. Even from inside houses. If you had a picture of the Virgin Mary, they removed it,” said Abu Nabeel.

Volunteers have now planted a garden in its courtyard, which they say is an attempt to “bring some beauty back” to Homs.

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A statue in the courtyard of the Church of the 40 Martyrs stood headless. “This was one of the founding fathers of the church, so they cut the head off the statue,” said Abu Nabeel.

The church itself was less damaged than others, but Abu Nabeel noted that “they burned the pews, for heat.”

Outside the door of an old but intact building, a few men hosed down the street and repaved small sections of the walk.

“This was one of the biggest restaurants in the Old City of Homs. People used to hold weddings here,” Abu N said of the building. “It was used as a headquarters for the insurgents. There was some damage inside, but they have already fixed a lot of it.”

Youth volunteers on a street in Bustan al-Diwan painted over the insurgents’ graffitti and used shattered glass from the Church of Saida Salaam to create a colourful mosaic.

Rubble which littered the streets had been swept into heaps in the centre of some lanes, allowing people to pass.

A man brushed rubble off the second story ledge of his building, one of few people around in the Old City in spite of the calm.

Further along an Old City lane, a blown-out wall revealed a burned pickup truck the insurgents used in their attacks, and the school beyond which they had occupied until the day of their departure from Old Homs. The bombed truck was but one example of the final destruction of retreating armed gangs.

Abu Nabeel explained that the insurgents mined the area before leaving. “They left booby-trapped explosives in the houses, all over, even behind paintings on the wall.”

In the courtyard of the Jesuit church sat a lone plastic chair adorned with flowers and a photo of Father Frans van der Lugt, the Jesuit priest assassinated on April 7, 2014.

The chair in which Father Frans van der Lugt was assassinated by an insurgent with a point-blank shot to his head.

 

Nazim Kanawati, who knew and respected the Jesuit, arrived moments after the 75-year-old priest had been shot in the back of the head.” We were surrounded and under siege. This was the only place we could go to. Everyone loved it here,” he said.

“Father Frans was a peace-maker and played an important role in arranging the evacuation of civilians from the Old City during the siege. He was trusted by both sides, and didn’t distinguish between Christians and Muslims. He was concerned with humanity.”

Like Father Frans, Kanawati refused to leave Homs while others fled. “I didn’t want to leave, I’m a Syrian, I had the right to be there.”

Although he chose to stay in the Old City, Father Frans was critical of the insurgents. In January 2012, he had written: “From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

“People in Homs were already armed and prepared before the protests began,” said Kanawati. “If they hadn’t been planning for the protests from the beginning, the people wouldn’t have had the quantity of arms that they had.”

Abu Nabeel explained that in addition to the Hamidiyeh district where various old churches are to be found, Christians in other areas occupied by the armed insurgents also fled. “There were an estimated 100,000 Christians living in the Old City of Homs before it was taken over by terrorists. Most fled in February 2012. By March, only 800 had stayed, and by the end just over 100 remained,” he said.

The siege that the Syrian army enforced on the Old City in an attempt to drive out the insurgents had a drastic effect on the daily lives of those remaining.

“Suddenly, we didn’t have electricity or water. We had to wait for the water trucks to refill tanks,” said Kanawati. “There were many elderly who couldn’t leave their homes. We’d take food and medicine to people in the community.”

Before Homs was freed of the armed insurgents, who were also stealing from homes, life had become impossible. “There was food at the beginning, but it started to run out. At the end we had nothing, we ate whatever we could collect,” said Kanawati.

No one expected the priest himself to be killed, Kanawati attested. “Someone who was probably in his twenties came here, his face covered, came and ordered Father Frans to go with him. Father Frans refused. So the man told him to sit on this chair, and shot him in the head.”

Abu Nabeel added another piece of information regarding van der Lugt’s murder.

“Three or four days before Father Frans was killed, the Syrian army had targeted a vehicle filled with explosives, which the insurgents were planning to send into the city. Many of the insurgent leaders killed were less extreme that the foreign insurgents, and had been protecting the church. After their deaths, the other insurgents went to the church and demanded Father Frans hand over the valuables residents in the area had left with him for safe-keeping. He refused, so they killed him.”

Mohammed, a Syrian from the Qussoor district of Homs, is now one of the reported 6.5 million internally-displaced Syrians.

“I’m a refugee in Latakia now. I work in Homs, two days a week, and then return to Latakia to stay at my friend’s home. I left my house at the very end of 2011, before the area was taken over by al-Nusra and al-Farooq brigades.”

He spoke of the sectarian nature of the insurgents and protests from the very beginning in 2011.

“I was renting a home in a different neighbourhood of Homs, while renovating my own house. Just beyond my balcony there were protests that did not call for ‘freedom’ or even overthrowing the ‘regime’.They chanted sectarian mottos, they said they would fill al-Zahara – an Alawi neighbourhood – with blood. And also al-Nezha – where there are many Alawis and Christians.”

“My aunt lives in another neighbourhood nearby. She’s Allawi and her husband is Sunni. Because she is Allawi, the ‘rebels’ wanted to kill her two sons. I chose Bashar al-Assad, so they said, ‘we will kill you, because you chose him.’”

The windows and door handle to the home of Aymen and Zeinat al-Akhras were missing, but the house itself was intact. Zeinat, a pharmacist, and Aymen, a chemical engineer, survived the presence of the armed men and the resulting siege on the Old City.

Every space in their small sitting was filled with the books and boxes fleeing family and neighbours, entrusted to the Akhras siblings who chose to weather the storm.

“We didn’t leave, we chose not to.” said Zeinat.

“Our family shop is about 75 years old now,” Aymen added. “We didn’t want to lose it or the merchandise.” Much of it he brought to the home, moving from shop through a hole in the wall to the back yard, so the insurgents wouldn’t see and steal the goods.

The area was taken over in two stages, they explained. “First, the insurgents reached near our house, while the Syrian army was on the other side. Fifteen days later, the insurgents brought more forces and arms and took over the area, killing all of the Syrian soldiers in that area. In February, 2012, they took over the Old City completely,” Aymen said.

Aymen and Zeinat al-Akhras in their Old City home in Homs.

Zeinat spoke of the power cuts, which sometimes lasted give days, and the lack of cooking gas.

“We started using the wood stove. We’d put the pot on at 10 am, eat at 4 pm… It didn’t matter that we didn’t have electricity for the fridge—we had no food to put in it,” she said.

“I’ve gained five kilos!” Zeinat said. “I dropped to 34 kilos. Aymen told me to weigh myself. I got on the scale and said, ‘What’s 34 kilos?’. A ten-year-old weighs more than that! And Aymen was 43 kilos. For a man, 43 kilos,” she said laughing.

The drastic drop was not due to ill-preparedness. To the contrary, Zeinat said they had enough food to last a year.

“We were twelve siblings with eight houses in the area, and the family house. We all had stores of food.”

But the stores of food didn’t survive the looting of the insurgents.

“Thirty-eight times they came to steal our food. The first couple of times, they knocked on the door, after that they just entered with guns. The last things they took were our dried peas, our cracked wheat, our olives, finally our za’atar (wild thyme). We started to eat grass and whatever greens we could find in February, 2014, and that’s all we had till Homs was liberated,” Zeinat said.

“The last time they came all we had were some spices. I was putting the spices on the grass and weeds that we were eating at that point, to give them some flavour. They even took the spices. They didn’t leave us anything.”

The insurgents also stole valuables. “Money, gold, and they took my passport,” Zeinat laughed. “What do they want with it?”

Abu Abdu had a home in a district of Homs between Khaldia and Bayada

“I was never interested in politics, I’d always change the channel if it was news. But when the events started here, and we began to see the lies, my sense of nationality awoke and I began to look at the news all the time,” he said.

Showing video and photos of his area, he explained, “This is our apartment building, we were on the third floor. I took this footage around May 10, after the insurgents left Old Homs.”

“They took our personal belongings, our money, they stole everything, even the pumps used to pump water up to the higher floors. They stole the electrical wiring, the electricity meters, the taps in the kitchen and bathroom, the engine of the washing machine… they couldn’t take the whole machine so they took the engine. They took the ceiling fan, the wall tiles…They broke my daughter’s wooden jewelry box to get the 100 Liras in it of different Syrian coins her fiance had given her as a gift. All that effort for 100 Syrian pounds (about $1.50),” he said.

Meanwhile, despite the return of calm to Homs’ Old City, insurgents continue their campaign of car-bombing civilian areas of Homs. Tens were killed by car bombs and rocket attacks in June alone.

On June 19, Sana news reported six killed and forty injured in a car bombing, as well as seven killed, 25 injured six days prior.

The Syrian government, however, continues efforts to restore normality to the city. On June 26, Sana news reported that the Minister of Culture, Lubanah Mshaweh, said plans were underway for the restoration of Homs’ Khalid Ibin al-Walid Mosque, St. Mary (Um al-Zinnar) and 40 Martyrs churches.

Also on June 26, the Nusra brigades, an al-Qaeda affiliate and one of the main factions which occupied Homs, is reported to have pledged allegiance to the Takfiri extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria(ISIS).

This allegiance to a group documented to have beheaded, mutilated, crucified and flogged Syrians and Iraqis gives more credence to Homs’ residents’ opinion that the events in Syria are no revolution.

Homs residents speak of car bombings in Apr 2014

Homs heflah to celebrate June 3 Presidential elections

“Freedom”: Homs resident speaks of the early days of the “crisis”

Homs: “We wanted to protect our house”


“When I visited in June 2014, after the terrorists had been extracted from most of Homs, the destruction and vandalism I saw were immense. Even back then, as soon as the terrorists were gone, Old City residents were already returning in trickles to begin the cleanup and think about re-building their lives.

Now, a year-and-a-half later, while immense reconstruction remains, there was a significant improvement. I saw new shops opened, and saw homes, stores, streets, and churches decorated in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas lights dangled over Old City lanes and in church courtyards. A friend from Homs later sent me photos of the streets lit up at night, and of the once-burned St. Mary’s Church (Um al-Zinnar) now repaired and decorated, and filled with worshippers, a youth choir and band.

At the Old City’s Jesuit Church, new portraits of Dutch priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, assassinated in April 2014 by the West’s “moderate” terrorists. The church also had a simple Christmas tree and home-made nativity scene, the grotto walls of which were made of crumpled brown paper.

Two well-known restaurants, which suffered differing degrees of destruction, have been re-opened. Beit al-Agha, greatly-damaged by the terrorists, is now coming back to life, although repairs are still needed. Al-Bustan restaurant, which was completely ravaged, is fully re-built and open to customers. Photos from al-Hamidiya Community Facebook page show a packed restaurant during Christmas, and dancing at night. The page shows celebrations in the different churches and streets of old Homs.

In Saha al-Majaa, an Old City square, I saw six locals adding finishing touches to the Christmas tree they’d crafted using scavenged and bought materials. In a nearby room, full-size nativity scene figures, made of sponge and cloth and other basic materials were stored until the display went up. Neighbourhood residents had chipped in for fabric, bought from Tartous.

“Come, tomorrow at 5 pm and you’ll see the finished display,” I was invited, but didn’t have the chance to get back. However, photos on social media show their creative efforts have paid off: in this square where despair was once deep, hope is flourishing anew.”

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