INTERVIEW ON PRESS TV: EVA BARTLETT: EVERYTHING YOU’VE BEEN TOLD ABOUT SYRIA IS A LIE

In Gaza

Published on Feb 15, 2018

 Independent journalist Eva Bartlett explains how the mainstream media lies about events in Syria.
RELATED LINKS:

Lulwa Kasawat:

“No one is listening Eva!! I told many people how the demonstrators under my house would scream and shout and the army would not respond, then they would throw rocks at them, and still they would not respond. One soldier got his head injured and blood burst and they rushed him away, but still they did not respond, until a shot was fired from the crowd, or elsewhere…and they the army rushed off and brought extra help.

Once it started from the other side again, it really started. Many a time the news (al Jazeera) would be stating that there is a big demonstration in Kudseiyeh (where I live) in the square (where my house overlooks) and that there is shooting and bombing of the army against innocent civilians, and I would look at the window and no sound and no gatherings. Shortly after, in an hour, some 15-20 young men, would gather chanting against the regime…but the army would not do anything, they wouldn’t even be there.

I went back to Syria when this started as I wanted to be with my family, so I stayed there from June 2011 to Sept 2012. My house was in Kudseiyeh and that is a troubled area, from the start, they were trying to get it in the equation, however the residents resisted despite all attempts. Then lots of outsiders came in, and they brainwashed the younger generation of that town, at one point I had to leave my house as it was very bad. The rebels kept shooting and telling everyone to flee because the army was going to bomb us.

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*photo Lulwa Kawasat

I got a missile in my house, it came from below, up through the children’s bedroom, up through the roof. Thank God it did not explode. We weren’t there at the time but we have the shell. If it was the army it would have come from above. It is still unstable there. But they have signed a truce, which the rebels keep breaking…

-Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru Murthy refused to “get into history” over his lies, much less to acknowledge that the “moderates” he propagated about were Al-Nusra.
-MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His Son, June 9, 2017, MintPress News
-Exploitation of children in propaganda war against Syria continues, Jun 19, 2017, RT.com
-Meet Aylan & Omran: Child victims used for Syrian war propaganda, June 12, 2017, RT Op-Edge
-Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda, Nov 2, 2017, RT Op Edge
-Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria, Oct 10, 2015, Dissident Voice
-Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’, Mar 7, 2016, SOTT.net

-Western media ignoring reality on the ground in Syria: terrorism and anti-Syria sanctions which help terrorists, Mar 3, 2016, Russia Today

-The Children of Kafarya and Foua are Crying in the Dark, Sep 6, 2016, 21st Century Wire

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

-UN covers up war crimes in Syria, citing U.S. backed Al-Qaeda propagandists, Oct 29, 2016, The Duran

-On Nov 3 2016 terrorist bombings, and Nov 4 terrorist shelling of humanitarian corridor. Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed Rebels Target ‘Every Syrian’, Nov 29, 2016, MintPressNews

-Liberated Homs Residents Challenge Notion of “Revolution”, Jul 8, 2014, Inter Press ServicesIn Gaza

-Madaya: Syria War Diary: Order Returns To Western Cities, Civilians Recount Horrors Of “Rebel” Rule, September 26th, 2017, Mint Press News

-On the White Helmets:

-On the DPRK:

Interview With Christine Hong: What’s Happening on the Korean Peninsula, Feb 2018

Gregory Elich On The DPRK

“Eva Bartlett in North Korea – Going Behind the Media Iron Curtain”–The Taylor Report & 21st Century Wire

Interview With The Makers of “The Haircut (2017) A North Korean Adventure”

What We Saw in North Korea Goes against Everything Western Media Wants Us to Believe

Photo-Report: The North Korea Neither Trump Nor Western Media Wants The World To See,  October 20th, 2017, Mint Press News

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AJAMU BARAKA ON CAMPAIGN TO SHUT DOWN US FOREIGN MILITARY BASES

In Gaza

On January 22, 2018, I had the opportunity to speak with the well-respected, highly-informed, longtime rights activist and writer, Ajamu Baraka.

A human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Please see his extended bio on his website.

He was the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate, and is a lead organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace. Mr. Baraka is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report, and also publishes at Black Commentator, Commondreams, Pambazuka, and Dissident Voice.

Related Links

http://noforeignbases.org
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/i/web/status/954098699189346305
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/955471891019550720
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/953314222775169025
https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/a-personal-reply-to-the-fact-challenged-smears-of-terrorist-whitewashing-channel-4-snopes-and-la-presse/

TALKING SYRIA & MEDIA LIES, ON SPUTNIK ORBITING THE WORLD

In Gaza

With hosts George & Gayatri Galloway. Photo via Sputnik on RT Twitter account.

While in the UK giving talks on Syria (and the DPRK/North Korea) last week, I was invited to speak on Sputnik Orbiting the World, the program hosted by George & Gayatri Galloway.

The program description:

Speaking truth to power ought to be the duty of journalism but it is not. Speaking the power’s “truth” is the way to get and keep the gig in today’s media – and if you do so, you’ll be richly rewarded with money and flattery. One of our frequent guests, Patrick Cockburn, had a great journalist father, Claud Cockburn, who said that the relationship of the journalist to power should be that of the dog to the lamp-post. Nothing is true, he’d say, until it has been officially denied. Fortunately, every now and then a journalist emerges who goes where few dare, who speaks what few will speak, without fear or favor. One such journalist is Eva Bartlett, so we invited her into the Sputnik studio to speak truth to power.

Clip:

Extended Interview:

Related Links:

How I startedAbout Me

Writings and videos from/on SyriaIn Gaza

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse, Jan 20, 2018, In Gaza, *republished at: The Indicter, (in Spanish)

Exploitation of Bana al-Abed: Parents use child to whitewash terrorists in Aleppo, Jul 24, 2017, RT.com

Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda, Nov 2, 2017, RT.com

The REAL Syria Civil Defence, Saving Real Syrians, Not Oscar Winning White Helmets, Saving Al Qaeda, Vanessa Beeley, Apr 2, 2017, 21st Century Wire

Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed Rebels Target ‘Every Syrian’, Nov 29, 2016, MintPress News[Excerpt: On the afternoon of Nov. 3, after meeting with Dr. Mohammed Batikh, director of Al-Razi Hospital, the victims of terror attacks which had begun a few hours prior began to arrive one after another, maimed and critically injured. The vehicle bombings and bombardment of Grad missiles, among other attacks, left 18 people dead and more than 200 injured, according to Dr. Zaher Hajo, the head of forensic medicine at Al-Razi Hospital. …According to the hospital’s head forensic medicine, Dr. Hajo, in the last five years, 10,750 civilians have been killed in Aleppo, 40 percent of whom were women and children. In the past year alone, 328 children have been killed by terrorist shelling in Aleppo, and 45 children were killed by terrorist snipers.]

US-Backed Terrorism in Syria: A First-Hand Account of the Use of Mortars Against Civilians, Sep 12, 2014, Global Research

Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors (Aleppo), Aug 14, 2016, SOTT.net

Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’, Mar 7, 2016, SOTT.net

Syrians Flock to Vote in Lebanon… But Not in The West, May 30, 2014, Inter Press Services

Liberated Homs Residents Challenge Notion of “Revolution”, Jul 8, 2014, Inter Press Services

“Freedom”: Homs resident speaks of the early days of the “crisis”(with video), Jun 24, 2014, In Gaza

Homs: “We wanted to protect our house”, Jun 13, 2014, In Gaza

Morning conversation with a Sunni Damascene woman, Apr 19, 2014, In Gaza [Excerpt: One of my relatives lived in Hama. The “rebels” would knock on the doors of homes there and force them to participate in demonstrations against the “regime.” My relative is an old woman, she said “I don’t want to participate. My legs are weak, I’m an old woman” but the “rebels” said she had to join the demonstration. They would threaten her, “we’ll kill your son, your husband.” They fled Hama soon after, to Lebanon.

Our former housekeeper was from Zamalka, near Jobar (one area where the “rebels” are, and from where they fire mortar shells towards Damascus). Just before the “rebels” took over Zamalka, she fled, but her husband and 30 year old son stayed, to protect their home. Two months after fleeing, she saw on the news that the “rebels” had killed her husband and son by cutting their heads off.

My cousin had a car accident, two of his children died. This was on a Friday. One child died immediately, the second the following day. While they were praying in the mosque, “rebels” came and filmed the caskets and produced a video with the title, “Damascus prayer on the field of freedom of the child martyr Abdul Salam Musa”. My aunt in Germany saw the video and commented “This is a lie, these kids are my relatives and they died in a car accident.”  Here is the video she referred to. As we sit and watch it, she points out her relatives.]

Syrians from Hassaka Speak of the Peaceful Life They Knew, Nov 9, 2014, In Gaza [Excerpt: “We never thought we’d leave Syria, life was good. Everything was cheap, we had security. But we eventually had to…. not because of the government or the Syrian Army, because of the terrorists, mostly al-Nusra then. Now Daesh are there too, but they’re the same anyway.

Before we left, it had gotten to the point where we scarcely had access to water, had little electricity… The terrorists destroyed the power lines. The municipality would repair things and the terrorists would return and destroy them.

Two weeks before we left, they blew up a car belonging to an important person in the government in our area. He lived down the street, between our house and the school. My daughter was at school, I was so afraid that she had been hurt.

When we left, we thought it would would only be temporarily, but every day since it has gotten worse.

We went back six months ago, to see if it was possible to return for good. Everything different, many shops were closed down and the water and electricity were even worse. Everything was worse than ever. As soon as it got dark, the streets were empty. Those of our neighbours who had remained were different too, gaunt, faces drawn.”

He spoke of the faux-revolution. “’We want freedom,’ they said. What freedom do they want? We had education, health care, security. This is the ‘freedom’ they want, these terrorists destroying our towns, our culture?”

Even though they have left and feel that they cannot go back, they are patriots, are proud of their country and culture, and its voices like theirs we need to be hearing: the people who know what’s happening on the ground, who are not being fed soundbites by corporate media or funded by the various thinktank incarnations of Soros’ foundations but who live/lived in Syria and suffered the draconian takeover of foreign terrorists; the people who support the Syrian army and President Assad because they choose to, who enacted the democracy they choose, not that which the death squads of the west attempt to deliver.”]

Meeting Syrians in Lebanon, May 27, 2014, In Gaza [Excerpts: “At breakfast one morning, still waiting for my visa application to be processed, I sit working on my laptop.  A man keeps glancing my way, and finally comes over to say he likes the Syrian bracelet I wear. We get talking. He’s Syrian, from Aleppo. At the end of our talk, he says again how happy it made him to see me wearing this bracelet… and adds, “I can’t wear my Syrian flag here because there are so many stupid people, they might kidnap me or worse. I’m not afraid of my government, but I am afraid of these thugs.” (Listen to his testimony on witnessing video being staged in Syria, and more.)

*

I visit Jeita Grotto, Jbeil (Byblos), and the cable-car leading up to the hilltop where –in the Middle East–the largest statue of Mary resides. I’m more interested in the scenery, and lovely scenery it is. Coming down from the hill, a thin older man with a pleasant face stops my car and opens the door. We chat a bit. He is also from Haleb (Aleppo), has been working here for years, not because of the manufactured war. But because of the situation, he’s recently brought his wife and kids here. I ask my usual simple questions: “What’s the problem? What do you think of the President?”

He replies–noting that he is speaking his mind, isn’t afraid to do so–that he will vote for President Assad . “I’m with him. Before all of this we were safe and had few problems.”  I ask the taboo question again, for the sake of clarity, and he replies “I’m Sunni Muslim, but in Syria it’s not important what religion you are.”

He’s Sunni. Bashar al-Assad is Alawi. The Western media has made MUCH of the so-called Alawi devotees to President Assad. But in my experience, in Syria and out, Syrians across the board support Assad.  It just depends if they’ve been corrupted by NED/Soros or other funds or whether they’ve been seduced by the Wahabi, Takfiri notion of raping, desecrating, destroying Syria for greater pleasures in a promised hereafter.

*

In a village near the Chouf Cedar Reserve, I come across another Syrian who has left because of the armed gangs in Aleppo. He’s a talented woodworker, and one evening stops by the hotel to have a cup of warm milk. I’ve already had a coffee (he saw me in the street earlier and invited me to his employer’s house for coffee), and a instant-coffee-milk mixture (everyone calls it Nescafe, whether its Nestle or not) with the guesthouse manager while talking Syria, but “Ibrahim” keeps insisting he buy me a coffee, something.

He shows me photos of his handiwork–lovely wood furniture, cupboards, intricate ceiling decor. I ask if this is what he did for work in Syria. “I had my own shop, but its been destroyed. Our house was destroyed, too.”  I ask when he’ll go back. “I can’t go back, the ‘rebels’ are there, I can’t get back.”

Haleb helua, ahlan mekkan. Aleppo is beautiful, the most beautiful place,” he says.

We look at online photos of Aleppo.

“See how beautiful it is!” He points out the landmarks, repeating himself, Haleb helua.

The Umayyad mosque, a castle, a hotel which he says is one of the oldest in the world…

Bas kharaboo.  But they’ve destroyed it all. Here, our house is here…. but it’s destroyed. The most beautiful place n the world.”

All this is said in the same soft voice, not a trace of anger or bitterness, just sadness, longing.”]

*

 

IMPERIALISM ON TRIAL: WRITERS AND ACTIVISTS CONVENE IN DERRY, IRELAND

In Gaza

Last week I had the honour of joining a number of incredible writers and orators in Derry, Ireland, in a panel, “Imperialism on Trial”. The five speakers were: John Wight, writer and host of Hard Facts; the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford; author, journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark; former MP and host of Sputnik Orbiting the WorldGeorge Galloway; and myself.

Organized by Derry resident Gregory Sharkey, the panelists addressed a wide range of issues. As one of the speakers, author Neil Clark, wrote:

“Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The full panel is online from RT’s livestream recording:

John Wight‘s talk was a poetic, searing condemnation of Imperialism and the corporate media, with literary and historical references included (much like Syria’s highly-educated Ambassador to the UN does in his speeches before the buffoons ala Haley, Power…).

His speech, fittingly, begins with a respectful acknowledgement of Resistance forces in Syria and around the world fighting against genocidal Imperialist forces. Excerpts include:

“Imperialism has run like a broken thread throughout human history, but so has Resistance to Imperialism. In this regard, I’d like to take a moment to pay tribute to the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, in short, all those whose efforts in combating this genocidal project of a latter day Khmer Rouge has prevented Syria from being pushed into an abyss in which its minorities—people who can trace their presence in that part of the world back over a millenia and more—would have been gone, extirpated, annihilated.

Everybody on this panel tonight has felt the lash of the mainstream media. They call us ‘cranks’, they call us ‘stooges’, they call us “Putin’s puppets’, they call us ‘Assadists’. But yet, why do they attack us if we’re so marginal, why take the time to attack what we do? It’s because we ask the question ‘why’….”

Peter Ford spoke with the conviction of a man with years of experience in Syria, with firsthand knowledge of that country and others in the region. Noting that “Imperialism did not end when the colonies became free”, Ford said (excerpts):

“We now have a new, more insidious, but more powerful form of Imperialism. And this Imperialism hides behind words. As an ex-diplomat, I’m very sensitive to the clever use of words, they are so manipulative. The new Imperialism hides behind expressions like “protecting our allies”. When we went to war in Iraq, we were protecting the Saudis, the Israelis…these are our allies. Another term the new Imperialists hide behind to extend their hegemony is “defeating terrorism”. That’s a more recent one.

Another one they love is “defending human rights”, and this applies to the Left as much as to the Right, or “humanitarianism”. This is liberal interventionalism, and we on the Left have to be particularly alert to this one. This is the new version of carrying the white man’s burden. In each case, we are intervening militarily, or certainly using some sort of coercive diplomacy. We’re intervening in less-developed parts of the world which are not able, by and large, to strike back.

Britain is a prominent member of the grandly called “Global Coalition to eliminate ISIS”, and there are about 50 countries which are members of this coalition but it’s by no means the global. It excludes Russia, which has done more against ISIS than any individual member of the global coalition. It excludes China and many, many other countries, but they like to pretend that it’s global. They tell us that the purpose is to eradicate ISIS. Well, ISIS has virtually been eradicated for the last three months, but the coalition goes on. And indeed, just two weeks ago an American general told us that the coalition was there to stay in northern Syria because their job was to stop ISIS coming back. Well that’s an open-ended promise isn’t it that could go on forever.”

Neil Clark, likewise spoke truth on many issues covered up or distorted by corporate media. Excerpts:

Libya in 2009 had the highest Human Development Index in Africa. Today it basically it is a hellhole run by various militias….The ultimate ignominy, the testament to the intervention launched by Sarkozy and Cameron & co, is the re-emergence of slave markets in Libya again. In fact, it’s a common pattern: every country where we’ve had these Western us-led interventions, the situation for ordinary people in those countries has actually worsened not got better.

We saw another classic example in Ukraine in 2014, a very similar scenario: the the US and its allies were supporting protesters against the government, and those protesters were led by the far right—by genuine far-right—people. …We’re talking about genuine ultra-nationalist borderline neo-nazis or bona fide neo-nazis at the forefront of these anti-government demonstrations. …We had a basic regime change in Ukraine against a democratically-elected government there.

I think they ought to be very aware of the language we use, …and one thing we ought to be careful of is this word “regime” because this is a very key term that’s used. …You don’t hear it about the US or Israel, you hear it about Syria, you hear it about Iran. It’s compulsory to say the Iranian “regime” not the Iranian government or the Syrian government.

We have spent billions billions of pounds on these illegal wars, billions of pounds on these interventions. …There’s nothing more important for us to do thanto change British foreign policy to have a British foreign policy based on respect for the sovereignty of countries around the world, a peaceful foreign policy, a non-interventionist foreign policy…”

George Galloway‘s speech was a detailed, animated, history lesson of Imperialist crimes, threats and lies, past and present. Excerpts:

“When I was born, the guns had only just stopped firing, from the British and American annihilation of the people of Korea. You heard the quotes from Eva, from Curtis Le May. ‘We burned down every town and village in North Korea,’ he said. ‘We killed 20% of the population of Korea. We threatened to launch thermo-nuclear warfare against them.’

We killed 1 million Chinese who had entered Korea to stop the advance of the British and American war machine, because they knew if they had conquered the north of Korea they would continued over the border to try to destroy the Chinese revolution.

And we wonder why North Korea is paranoid? Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Our people may have forgotten the Korean war. The Korean people never did forget it. 

They seek to induce us into a state of panic that something must be done about North Korea maybe having one nuclear rocket that can reach the United States, when the United States has 1000s of nuclear weapons that can reach and incinerate North Korea or anywhere else in the world.

How is it that the United States is somehow qualified to possess a nuclear arsenal that could end life on this planet for millennia to come, but other people, to defend themselves, may not produce one?”

My own talk at the Imperialism on Trial panel (also here) focused on media lies and war propaganda around Syria, and on the Imperialists’ fear-mongering rhetoric around, and blatant calls for the genocide of, Korea’s north, with reminders that the US and allies already destroyed the DPRK in the ’50s.

I also addressed the criminal sanctions on the DPRK, and some of the sensationalist stories put forth on the DPRK, sometimes even emanating from Washington. While I mentioned some of my August 2017 visit to the DPRK, I would here defer to the expertise of writers like historian Bruce Cumings, who wrote:

“The demonization of North Korea transcends party lines, drawing on a host of subliminal racist and Orientalist imagery; no one is willing to accept that North Koreans may have valid reasons for not accepting the American definition of reality.”

Researcher and writer Stephen Gowans offers a starkly different (aka factual) look at Korea’s north than that spewed by MSM hacks and politicians with no regard for the 25 million people at risk of annihilation thanks to American Exceptionalism. International criminal lawyer and writer Christopher Black also has vast knowledge about the DPRK, and has himself visited the country some years ago. Professor Tim Anderson wrote this article highlighting aspects of our August 2017 visit.

The bottom line, though, as Ajamu Baraka stated in our January 2018 interview:

“The US should not feel that it has the moral and political right to intervene, to determine who should be the head of any state, what kind of system they should organize. Those are questions and issues that should be left up to the people of any nation state on the planet. …No matter what the argument may be made by US authorities regarding the character of any state, we believe that allowing for those kinds of arguments to be used as a justification for intervention or waging war is morally unacceptable and politically has to be resisted.

Links Related to Syria Content:

-Sharmine Narwani’s “How narratives killed the Syrian people

-Sharmine Narwani’s “Syria: The Hidden Massacre

-on media lies and myths on Syria: Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria

-Writing of the late Father Frans van der Lugt on armed protesters

-Interview with Father Daniel in Syria: “There Never Was a Popular Uprising in Syria”

Homs: “We wanted to protect our house”

“Freedom”: Homs resident speaks of the early days of the “crisis” (June 2014)

Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’

Vanessa Beeley videos, including testimonies of Syrians from eastern areas of Aleppo after liberation of the city.

-Mass Starvation & other anti-Syria propaganda:

The Children of Kafarya and Foua are Crying in the Dark

-Omran Daqneesh (the Boy in the Ambulance):

-White Helmets (al-Qaeda’s rescuers):

-Israel’s Use Of White Phosphorous on Palestinian Civilians:

 

The Terrorism the USA Supports in Syria

By Eva Bartlett

In stark contrast to the sparse coverage of the brutality of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria over the past few years, there has recently been substantial coverage of the emergence of ISIS in Iraq and the terrorist acts that this US-backed and funded group has been committing. This surge of media focus on ISIS’ brutality in Iraq and particularly on the recent alleged be-headings of two American journalists is extensively considered, amongst independent political analysts, to be setting the stage for NATO and the Axis-of-Imperialists to “fight terrorism” in Iraq and Syria, aka destroy both countries (note: there are valid doubts as to the legitimacy of the Foley video itself).

Glaringly absent from corporate media accounts of the proxy-war being waged on Syria is the fact that the very same terrorist group, as well as other Western-backed, al-Qaeda aligned terrorist organizations (like al-Nusra and the so-called “Free Syrian Army”), have been terrorizing Syrians for years—beheading them, flogging, crucifying, amputating hands—to name but a few of their crimes against thousands of Syrians.

In a recent interview, scholar and author Zafar Bangash noted Western-complicity in supporting ISIS and other mercenary groups, as well as NATO’s complicity in the destruction of Syria thus far:

“As a member of NATO, obviously Turkey has close liaison with the United States, Britain, France, etc, providing them all kinds of information. A NATO member, that means by extension NATO itself, is involved in financing, supporting, arming, facilitating the transfer, or entry, of these terrorists into Syria.”

Also omitted are the terrorist-insurgents’ near-daily firing of lethal mortars upon civilian areas in Syria. According to political analyst and Damascus resident Mazen al-Akhras, in the three-month period of April, May and June 2014, terrorist-insurgents fired 994 mortars on Damascus and environs, 426 of which were fired in June (see list of locations hit and number of mortars below). On June 3, Election Day in Syria, the terrorist-insurgents fired 151 shells on Damascus, killing 5 and maiming 33 Syrians, Akhras said.

While statistics on the number of Syrians civilians killed and maimed by such mortar attacks are not readily available, a tally from State media news reports for the period of Jun 18, 2014-current (the available reports) reveals at least 48 Syrians were killed (including 10 children) and 358 injured by mortar fire.

The terrorizing car-bombings which were rampant in civilian areas of Homs (now secured by the Syrian Arab Army), and which continue to plague areas in Hama, have received some scant coverage. But the mortars continue (still out of the media spotlight), albeit to a lesser degree than a few months ago thanks to the gains of the Syrian army in areas like Mleiha (Damascus outskirts), where mortar-fire originated, and increasingly in Jobar (Damascus outskirts).

In April and June 2014, I spent a cumulative month in Syria, in various areas of Damascus, with visits to Latakia, Homs, and Ma’aloula. At the time, Damascus was being intensely shelled by mortars, frequently in my vicinity, including just behind the hotel housing the Peace Delegation which I accompanied for the first week (photo). This attack killed three civilians and one Syrian soldier. We saw some of the 60 plus children injured in the April 15 shelling of a school, not an isolated occasion, an attack which also killed one child. Mortars rained down at close-proximity on many occasions in different areas of the Old City where I had then found lodging.

Prior to and since then, other residential, civilian areas I’ve become familiar with have been incessantly-targeted, and none of those areas can be considered targets for a “revolution”—in other words, neither governmental nor military sites. The terrorist-insurgents are intentionally targeting high-density civilian areas, and often take videos of themselves manufacturing, preparing and firing the mortar shells.

Bab Touma (Thomas Gate), Bab Sharqi (East Gate), and the Shagour area of the Old City have all been repeatedly targeted, as have the commercial Shaalan district—particularly near the Dar al-Salaam school—and other areas of Damascus and environs, including Abasyeen, Dweilaa, Baramkeh, Jaramana, Yarmouk, and Mazzeh. These are areas housing shops, restaurants, homes, schools, hospitals and clinics, hotels, parks, and thus the victims are Syrian civilians, including children.

In June, I spoke with a National Defense Force (NDF) soldier, who explained to me the nature of the mortars being fired on Damascus, the surrounding areas and further afield in Syria. He began with an explanation of his own knowledge of weaponry:

“In Syria, when you are 18, you do mandatory military service (until 2005 it was 2.5 years; in 2011 it was reduced to 18 months). I served in a unit that specialized in rockets. But when they started teaching us about rockets, they had to first teach you the basic science, which is mortars. We began learning with 60-120 mm mortars. Then we learned about the larger sizes, like the 160 mm, and later about small rockets, then the bigger ones, like Scuds.

‘There are different kinds of mortars here. There are local mortars, made in workshops by the terrorists, and there are larger, American-made mortars of the kind used in the second world war, 60-80 mm mortars. These are infantry-specific, not intended for buildings or vehicles.”

But according to the NDF soldier, the home-made mortars are the dirtiest:

“They are shells, made in local workshops. Inside them they pack broken glass, nails, and anything that will hurt whoever is hit by the debris. They put explosives in the centre of these shards. Then they add the tail end and explosives to propel the mortar. When the mortar explodes, the metal container is destroyed and becomes shrapnel pieces which, along with the glass and nails, causes more extensive injuries.

“The US mortars are stronger, intended for infantry. But the terrorists are using them as well. They won’t cause much damage to buildings, but they can maim and kill a lot of people. The terrorists can’t enter the city, so they’re trying to stop daily life by firing mortars on the city. They’ve been very open about their reasons for firing mortars on Damascus and other areas: they are punishing the Syrians who do not support their ‘revolution’. They say if you are living in an area controlled by the army and government of Syria, so you are against the ‘revolution’ and they are going to attack you, they say that it is halal (permitted by Islam) to kill you.”

The NDF soldier was himself injured by shrapnel from mortar attacks on a residential and commercial area in central Damascus, the shells landing near a school and close to a popular cafe, not far from an open market area:

“On May 6, the day I was injured, 54 mortars were fired all over Damascus. In this neighbourhood alone, 27 mortars were fired on us. There is no military here, just civilians. The two mortars on this single street caused at least 15 injuries. By the end of the day, there were around 50 injured and two martyred.

“On June 3, Election Day, they fired mortars and then about five minutes later—when people had gathered to help—they fired more, just a few metres away from where the first ones had landed. So they caused many more casualties. They increased their mortars on Election Day because they wanted to stop people from going to vote.”

Terrorist mortar and missile attacks on cities throughout Syria increased notably in the lead-up to and including Election Day.

Al Akhbar reported:

“Syrian rebels bombarded a campaign rally in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s June 3 election bid, killing a number of citizens, Syrian state media and a monitoring group said Friday.

The mortar fire hit a tent where Assad supporters had gathered in the southern city of Daraa late on Thursday.

“Armed terrorist groups targeted civilians in a [national campaign] tent which led to the martyrdom of a number of citizens and injuring others,” state-run SANA said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the attack, saying at least 20 people were killed, including children, and 30 injured.”

Press TV updated:

“The death toll from a recent mortar attack by foreign-backed Takfiri militants on an election campaign rally in southern Syria has risen to nearly 40.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported on Saturday that at least 39 people had lost their lives in the mortar attack on the election campaign rally in Syria’s southern city of Dara’a late on Thursday.

According to the report, some 205 people were also wounded in the attack, while 14 of the injured are in critical condition.”

In the lead-up to the elections, Syrian residents and media like Press TV noted the increase in mortar-fire, an attempt to intimidate Syrians from casting votes the following week.

On May 31, Press TV reported:

“Twenty people have been killed in mortar attacks carried out by foreign-backed militants on Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo.

The militants fired 40 mortar shells on several neighborhoods of the flashpoint city, destroying many buildings.

Takfiri groups have stepped up their attacks against Syrians in several cities and towns as the country prepares for the presidential election on June 3.”

A month later, in increased shelling largely seen as vindictive attacks on Inauguration Day, July 16, terrorists fired 23 shells on Damascus, Akhras reported. Syrian State media reported that four were killed and 30 injured by the mortars which targeted Shaalan district, Umayyad Square, and a park near the Sheraton Hotel.

The BBC account of the April 15 school shelling includes such intentionally misleading phrases as:

“They’re believed to be fired by rebels, but the government is also accused of launching them into neighbourhoods under its control.”

To counter this allegation, the NDF soldier explained,

“After evacuating injured and bystanders from the scene of a mortar strike, the security looks for the tail end of the mortar shell, because from the size of the tail end you can know the size of the mortar and thus its range, its trajectory. The 80 mm mortar will fly between 800-1500 metres. The bigger the tail, the further the range.”

Knowing the angle of impact, the range of travel, security can determine whether the mortars came from terrorist-insurgent controlled areas like Jobar (or formerly Mleiha, Barzeh and Daraya) and thus know its provenance:

“Mortars are routinely fired from Jobar, about 1.5 km from here (central Damascus). The main group there is the Nusra Front, though there are also some members of so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA). Some of the armed men were trying a while ago to surrender to the government, but when they would try, they’d get a sniper’s bullet to the head from the other terrorists. There are so many civilians not involved in these attacks, so the army can’t fully attack Jobar with heavy weapons.”

In the three weeks I stayed independent in Syria, I had ample opportunity to speak with Syrians on the issue of the insurgent-fired mortars.

One evening, I sat talking with a restaurant-owner near Bab Sharqi in the Old City. Abu Shadi, the restaurant owner, lamented the lack of tourists, due to the war on Syria, and spoke of his own close encounter with mortars. As we spoke, mortars were fired on different areas of the Old City, one of which roughly 50 metres from where we sat [LISTEN HERE]:

“When I hear kazyif (shell), kazyif, kazyif, for children, for school…these is people rubbish…come to children, to people…this is something no good. Two times come two kazife to my restaurant. Before one minute, I would die if I don’t go to sleep. I was here (roughly 2 metres from restaurant).”

Qamar, an employee in the hotel where I lodged at Bab Sharqi, spoke of her own worries:

“I have children, I worry about them going to school since the terrorists shelled a school last week. Last year, they shelled a school in my area, Mazzeh. A teacher was killed and students were injured.”

The genial hotel owner spoke one day about a friend of his killed a few days prior. “My friend was martyred by a mortar three days ago. He was a pharmacist…He was at Bab Touma at the time, walking on the street, and a mortar fell there. They want to burn Syria from within, want to leave these factions fighting each until Syria is burned down and Syria is bled-out.”

A university student I spoke with on a crowded Old City bus one morning commented on the formerly popular market area, Midan, as the bus passed by:

“People are afraid to come here now, because it’s so close to Yarmouk. Midan is safe, but people think that the terrorists in Yarmouk will fire mortars here. I used to go to Yarmouk all the time, but now, no way.”

Following an April 21 mortar attack on Bab Touma, which killed 2 and maimed 23, I spoke with shop employees who had been present at the time of the attack. An employee in a shoe shop said:

“It was just after 3 pm, the area was packed with people. It happens a lot, a lot, a lot…all the time. Shrapnel flew everywhere, little bits and pieces. In the last two weeks, around ten mortars have landed in this area. This isn’t a revolution. They’ve come from outside. Do you know how we were living? We had security, work…but, sorry, now?”

In a clothing shop, an employee present at the time said:

“We were inside, heard the explosion, went outside and saw the dead lying on the ground. We get these mortars all the time…”

Mazen al-Akhras, notes:

“The terrorists know that their mortars accomplish nothing practically, they are just a vengeful act against the people of Damascus for not supporting them. Sometimes they film themselves as evidence of their loyalty, presented to anyone who would sponsor them financially to keep fighting against President Assad.”

In recent months, the Syrian Arab Army and National Defense Forces have made impressive strides in eradicating mortar-firing and sniping insurgents from their bases in civilian areas like Mleiha, and in the past in Daraya. The reconciliation of other areas like Moadamiyeh and Barzeh has also meant a cessation of mortar fire from those areas.

Insurgents in Jobar, however, continue terrorizing Damascus and environs. On August 29, SANA reported three university students and one other civilian were injured by mortar-fire in different areas of Damascus. On August 30, SANA reported six civilians, including a girl, injured by shelling of Damascus districts, including near a hospital. On September 2, SANA reported the shelling of Damascus neighbourhoods, injured 8 cvilians, as well as in Hasaka city, injuring five, in Idleb, injuring two, and in Deir Ezzor, injuring two. These are just some of the continued terrorist mortar attacks in Syria.

This mortar terrorism, virtually unmentioned in corporate media, is further evidence of the intent of these foreign-backed insurgents to destroy Syria. As with the media’s omission of ISIS’ crimes against Humanity in Syria, the omission of the near-daily insurgent mortar fire upon civilians is ignored precisely because the destruction of Syria has always been on the agenda of the Axis-of-Interventionists, the US-Zionist-Gulf-Turkish-British-French-Jordanian project.

Mortar statistics April, May, June (via Mazen al-Akras):

Terrorists showered Damascus with a total of 994 mortar shell in April, May and June 2104, 355 of them in April, 213 in may and 426 in June.

The shells landed on different parts of the city as follows:

Abbasyeen and surrounding areas 163 Shells
Jaramana 147 Shells
Dweilaa and surrounding 88
Tadamon 84
Qassaa, Qusour and Bab Touma 69
Assad Suburb (near Harasta) 61
Tijara, Adawi and Mezraa 59
Hamra and Salhiyeh 47
Mazzeh 42
Old City 35
Baghdad Street 34
Yarmouk 27
Malki & Abu Rommaneh 19
Qazzaz and Sinaa 19
Airport freeway 18
Midan 14
Rukneddin 13
Muhajireen 12
Umawiyeen Square 12
Baramkeh 11
Zahira 10
Marjeh 5
Kafarsouseh 4
Barzeh 1

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian justice activist and freelance journalist and has been to Syria twice this year. Read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website.

Eva Bartlett Speaks on North Korea and Syria

This is a presentation by independent journalist Eva Bartlett given in the city of Derry, in Northern Ireland, on January 30.

Syria update, February 1, 2018:

Militant Shelling Kills 7 Civilians in Damascus District

 

A PERSONAL REPLY TO THE FACT-CHALLENGED SMEARS OF TERRORIST-WHITEWASHING CHANNEL 4, SNOPES AND LA PRESSE

wh russia

How about the “fact checkers” and apologists look into why the White Helmets recycled an image claiming to show a victim of “Russian airstrikes” after having previously used the same image before Russia even began bombing ISIS in Syria.

-Eva Bartlett

*republished at: The Indicter

In part 1, I wrote of the Guardian’s quite unoriginal Russophobic story cheering for al-Qaeda’s rescuers, the White Helmets. In this second part, I expose other (some serial) offenders, guilty of disinformation on the White Helmets, and war propaganda on Syria to a degree that Goebbels would be envious. They are further guilty of ignoring the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of Syrians who call a spade a spade, a terrorist a terrorist.

The Channel 4 “Fact Check” Card

In The Guardian article in question, the author began by linking to a Channel 4 News smear piece on myself which had nothing to do with the point she was asserting—whether or not the group had al-Qaeda ties—but which was issued a year ago with the sole intent to cherry-pick my words to discredit myself. Such non sequitur arguments are commonly used by those who cannot backup their statements with facts and who wish to, instead, deflect and mislead.

Had the Guardian had honest intentions regarding the White Helmets article, they might have actually investigated the many members of the White Helmets with ties to al-Qaeda and affiliated extremists. Here is but one example showing the allegiance of over 60 White Helmets members to al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

Regarding the Channel 4 smear which The Guardian’s own hatchet piece linked to, it followed my speaking on a December 2016 panel (over 50 minutes, with question period), with three others, including a lawyer and the head of the US Peace Council, in a press room of the United Nations.

In that panel, we spoke of many important issues, including: the illegality of this war on Syria; the need to lift the devastating sanctions on Syria; the statement of unity among over 200 organizations in the US and internationally in solidarity with the Syrian government’s fight against foreign intervention; the Syrian reconciliation movement; and the heinous acts committed against Syrian civilians by terrorists, whether from the FSA or Nour al-Deen al-Zenki or ISIS or other.

I spoke for thirteen minutes, noting that my trips to Syria have been self-funded, and that I’ve traveled widely, interacting one-on-one with Syrians, and seen wide support for their army and leadership.

I highlighted how the over 1.5 million people of Aleppo had endured sieges and the attacks of terrorists groups, which killed nearly 11,000 civilians by end of 2016, and noted being present when on November 3, 2016, terrorist attacks on Aleppo which killed 18 and injured over 200. I cited being present during the November 4 mortar attacks by extremist factions on one of the humanitarian crossroads.

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Photo by Eva Bartlett, July 2017, Aleppo countryside. See my photo essay on Aleppo and countryside.

Other points which I addressed include:

-The words of Syrians who in October 2016 escaped terrorists’ rule in an eastern area of Aleppo, noting that the “moderates” deprived them of food and imposed extremist ideology on the people.

-The unity I saw in Aleppo, between Sunni Muslims and Christians, rejecting the external sectarianism, and rejecting the corporate narrative that Sunnis in Syria are against Bashar al-Assad, and the support of civilians for their army.

-The al-Quds hospital which was not “destroyed”, not reduced “to rubble”, as per Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and as repeated by most corporate media. Admittedly, it was lexiconally-incorrect of me to have stated that the Quds hospital had not been attacked: I cannot prove it has never been lightly or otherwise attacked. The correct wording should have been “not destroyed”, and in fact this June I confirmed that the Quds hospital remained standing, intact as it was when I mentioned it in that December 2016 panel.

However, as I mentioned in December, the Dabeet maternity hospital in Aleppo was internally-destroyed by a terrorist bombing, to the silence of most media. I went there and spoke with the director, who confirmed that three women died the attack in which freedom-bringers fired a missile that landed on a car parked outside the hospital, exploding that car. The director also noted that a week later, terrorists’ mortars hit the roof of the hospital, destroying the roof and injuring construction workers.

In the panel, I also mentioned the Kindi hospital which was destroyed by al-Nusra truck bombings, a rather significant fact, given that it was the largest and best cancer treatment hospital in the region. [Incidentally, I met with Kindi’s former director in November 2016, who spoke of international silence at the destruction of his hospital. While speaking, a terrorist-fired mortar landed outside of the University hospital where we spoke.]

I presented the words of the director of Aleppo’s Medical Association, who told me that in contrast to corporate media’s assertions of “last doctors” and “last pediatricians”, there were over 4,100 active and registered doctors in Aleppo, including over 800 specialists, including 180 pediatricians.

Selective Cricitism, Whitewashing Crimes

Out of that lengthy December 2016 panel, the sole issue that Channel 4 cherry-picked was a remark I made in the question period following, on the issue of exploitation of children in war propaganda—or more specifically, whether one girl has been exploited repeatedly.

I will note that while I cannot prove definitively that one of the girls I mentioned (or those which Channel 4 piece assumed I referred to) have been used in staged videos, it is entirely feasiblethat she/they and other children have been, and is entirely worthy of serious investigative research, particularly given the western-funded, terrorist-affiliated nature of the various sources.

For example, on the issue of staged media, as I wrote in June 2017 (emphasis added):

“In December 2016, filmmakers in Egypt were arrested in the process of staging an Aleppo video with two children: the girl was meant to look injured, and the boy was to vilify both Russia and Syria.”

My article detailed the misuse of a Lebanese music video scene to claim it was Aleppo; and BBC’s endorsement of the November 2014 ‘Syrian hero boy’ clip as definitely being in Syria, “probably on the regime frontlines,” although it was filmed in Malta by Norwegian filmmakers.”

In June 2017, I also wrote about one famous boy, the “boy in the ambulance”, exploited including by Channel 4 News and the Guardian. When this June I went to Aleppo and met the boy and his father, the latter confirmed that the story pushed in corporate media was false, and that media had exploited his son. As it turns out, Mohammad Daqneesh supports the Syrian army, and was disgusted by the exploitation of his son, by media and the terrorists themselves.

Further, there is the White Helmets video in which “rescuers” seem to be fake-rescuing children, employing practices which would kill them, as outlined by Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, head of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR). His March 2017 article noted the opinions of Swedish medical doctors, specialists, who asserted that:

“the life-saving procedures seen in the film are incorrect – in fact life-threatening – or seemingly fake, including simulated resuscitation techniques being used on already lifeless children.”

He cites a specialist in paediatrics:

“After examination of the video material, I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children”.

And a Swedish medical doctor and general practitioner:

“If not already dead, this injection would have killed the child!”

His follow-up report noted:

“The new findings…demonstrate that the main highlighted ‘life-saving‘ procedure on the infant shown in the second video of the sequence was faked. Namely, no substance (e.g. adrenaline) was injected into the child while the ‘medic’ or doctor introduced the syringe-needle in a simulated intracardiac-injection manoeuvre…”

Recall the incubator babies story sobbed by the fake-nurse daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US (endorsed and propagated by Amnesty International), which preceded and had a role in swaying public opinion prior to the 1991 US/UK war on Iraq. Regarding the White Helmets video in question, de Noli noted it was,

“shown at the UN Security Council April 16, 2015. After that meeting, US Ambassador Samantha Powers declared, ‘I saw no one in the room without tears. If there was a dry eye in the room, I didn’t see it’.

Ensuing, just four days after, on April 20, 2015, CNN broadcasted a news-program reproducing segments taken from exactly the same videos and propagated for the No-Fly Zone on behalf of “the Syrian doctors” campaigning.

This horrifying syringe-children example, and the above-listed incidents of faked footage and exploitation of children in war propaganda, are more than enough reason to warrant serious investigations into other videos produced by the White Helmets (and those of like western-funded “opposition media” in Syria, including formerly the Aleppo Media Centre [AMC]).

Channel 4 Team Mucked the Facts

Regarding the Channel 4 “fact check”, Patrick Worrall got his facts wrong in his very second sentence, which read:

“She writes a blog for the state-funded Russian media outlet Russia Today.”

Alas, the Channel 4 team didn’t do the most elementary investigative research to see where exactly my supposed “blog” on RT was. Had Channel 4 followed the link, they would find the opinion section dubbed “Op Edge”, to which 19 writers currently contribute, many of whom also contribute to numerous other publications. Many papers have such opinion sections, including The Guardian, which describes the entries there as “opinion pieces” and not “blog posts”.

Channel 4 also described the UN panel in question as “organised by the Syrian mission to the UN”. In fact, I initiated contact with the Syrian mission to request that I do what the US Peace Council had done in August 2016: to present some of what I had seen and heard in Syria. The Syrian mission did arrange for the room, as per my request. Worrall’s wording is to imply that I was merely invited to speak, whereas in fact I requested to speak, since corporate media won’t give voices like mine a fair platform.

In an attempt to legitimize the narrative of White Helmets rescuing babies or people from rubble, Channel 4 wrote that I had reported a case of someone buried alive in Gaza in 2009 who (I wrote a few weeks after his injury) emerged with “only a mere scar at his left eyebrow”.

bartlett-abu-qusay

*Image provided by Abu Qusay.

Yet, my 2009 article clearly portrays a man with thick blood streaming down his face, who (as he explained) couldn’t walk on his own, and by his own testimony passed out and woke up in hospital. In contrast, the girl in question (number two in Channel 4’s article), supposedly buried, seemingly has no visible blood on her face, and in spite of having been pulled by her ponytail after being buried by rubble, is alert and conscious. Not such an apt comparison, Channel 4. It indeed begs the question of just how injured she was.

Of girl number 2, Channel 4 wrote:

“Someone would have had to have buried a screaming child up to their chest in rubble and carefully assembled a large amount of heavy wreckage around and on top of her…”

Indeed. It’s funny how the White Helmets did exactly that in their “mannequin challenge” video, extracting from rubble a man who appears unable to walk… later photographs show the actor standing with his “rescuers”.

wh-video

Further, the video presented by Channel 4 regarding the ponytail-grabbed girl in no way shows “a large amount of heavy wreckage around and on top of her”. Rather, it shows a child waist-deep in rubble, “rescuers” wiping rubble here and there, and finally the child extracted (video strangely cuts the extraction point, why is that?), the rescuer running to and beyond the waiting ambulance.

I challenge Channel 4 to find any actual doctor, medic or rescuer that would pull a child supposedly buried in rubble by her ponytail, knowing that any damage to the spine can be fatal or leave the victim paralyzed.

Terrorist-Affiliated Sources Not Credible, Even If Reuters

Later in the article, Channel 4 refers to “a Reuters photographer on the ground at one of the incidents, who was satisfied that the events he was recording were genuine.” Given that the photographer in question, Abdalrhman Ismail, was embedded in al-Qaeda areas, litters his Facebook posts with pro-“rebel” and anti-Assad propaganda, and has selfies with at least one of the member of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki terrorists who beheaded a Palestinian boy in 2016, his credibility and impartiality is shot, to say the least.

retuers ismail

*Abdalrhman Ismail on left, Zenki child-beheader centre.

Ismail also participated in the propaganda that the Quds hospital in Sukkari, Aleppo had been destroyed by airstrikes, which it was not.

Channel 4 cited me as saying that the White Helmets can be found carrying guns and standing on dead bodies of Syrian soldiers, but did not address these points, nor did they address the curious issue of the obscene amount of funds these “volunteers” have received. What strange omissions. Channel 4 also did not address my point about internal refugees who fled not Assad, as claimed in corporate media, but the terrorists themselves, and how these internal refugees are given housing, food, education and medical care by the Syrian government. Not important?

Clearly Channel 4 reports only that which supports the “rebels” and “revolution” narrative, whitewashing the terrorism not only of the extremists but also the governments funding and supporting them, and governments imposing sanctions on Syria.

Incidentally, Channel 4 (as I wrote) produced a report embedded with the Nour al-Din al-Zinki faction, who Channel 4 deemed “moderates,” although in July prior they had savagely beheaded Abdullah Issa. Not initially a problem for Channel 4, they did later remove the incriminating video.” This is the same Channel 4 whose reporter, when returned to Aleppo after its liberation, refused to “get into history” about his lies and war propaganda. In other words: Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru Murthy lied throughout 2016, and when confronted did not even have the dignity and integrity to admit he was wrong.

Snopes: Factually-Challenged

In December 2016, the self-professed “fact check” website Snopes also produced a smear piece full of logical fallacies on me. Interestingly, had they not, I might not have come across their article whitewashing al-Qaeda’s rescuers.

Snopes’ Bethania Palma opened with this teaser (emphasis added):

“The idea that victims of mass tragedies are ‘recycled’ is a common theme among conspiracy theorists, but there are international reports and footage of the Al Quds Hospital attack.”

In addition to the unoriginal use of “conspiracy theorists”, two different issues were conflated: That of whether people are being used in staged videos, and that of the al-Quds hospital “attack”. The conclusion following “but” has absolutely nothing to do with the first part of the sentence. This is a straw man argument, and is designed to mislead.

Snopes continued with things like “outlandish-sounding claims” and that I believe “international media are conspiring to fabricate stories of hospital bombings,” and that I refer to “all factions fighting President Bashar al Assad’s forces as terrorists.”

As it turned out, my outlandish-sounding claims were true. The al-Quds hospital was not “destroyed”, the “last doctors” theme was a propaganda ploy, as was the “last pediatrician in Aleppo,” and many other ruses. Indeed, international media did conspire to fabricate stories, such as that on Omran Daqneesh, and also on Bana al-Abed.

The international media did conspire to claim that Assad was starving civilians in Aleppo, which was laid to rest when media actually spoke to civilians (and not terrorist mouthpieces) after Aleppo’s liberation.

The international media also conspired along the same lines regarding Madaya. I went to Madayathis June and learned the same sordid realities (starvation, torture, imprisonment) that civilians endured in Aleppo, due to al-Qaeda and affiliated extremists. The international media continue to conspire, with the same tired claims.

Snopes stated, regarding Syria’s 2014 Presidential election: “Voting in that election only took place in government-held territories.”

False. Voting occurred also in neighbouring Lebanon, where I witnessed the first of two days of mass-turnout of Syrians to vote. Syrians in countries like Canada which has closed the Syrian embassy flew to Damascus airport just for the right to vote.

Snopes also neglected to mention that, in their efforts to bring “democracy” to Syria, “moderates” shelled voting stations throughout Syria on June 3, firing 151 shells on Damascus alone, killing at least 5 and maiming 33 Syrians,” in Damascus, as I wrote in 2014.

As for whether forces fighting the Syrian army and civilians are terrorists, I have heard this repeatedly from civilians in Syria themselves, like this civilian in Aleppo in June 2017. Whether FSA, al-Qaeda, al-Zenki or another shade of extremist, they all commit acts of terrorism against Syrian civilians.

Snopes then strangely pointed out the following, as if I would refute it: “Bartlett has a statement on her own web site:

‘I support Syria against a ‘civil’ war that is funded, armed and planned by the western powers and their regional allies with a view to wiping out all resistance to imperialism in the Middle East…’.”

Indeed, I did have it on my blog, and one can still see it among my Facebook cover photos. Thanks for sharing that, Snopes! Incidentally, Qatar’s former PM admitted this as well, noting Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey had been coordinating with America and sending weapons to militants since events began in 2011. What a dang conspiracy theorist the former Qatari Prime Minister is! Almost as conspiratorial as the former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, who noted (video here):

“I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria.

This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer minister for foreign affairs, if I would like to participate.

Naturally, I refused, I said I’m French, that doesn’t interest me….This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”

Otherwise, in their “fact check” Snopes repeated points I’ve already addressed above, including about the Quds hospital, which Snopes neglected to mention that MSF had said was “destroyed”. Thus, the explanation that it was somehow risen from the rubble and working anew in September is simply illogical. It was “destroyed”, remember? Reduced “to rubble”, said MSF.

18425230_1573447629331892_7320350252070519931_n

How Neutral is Snopes?

Snopes completely avoided investigating my mention that the White Helmets “can be found carrying guns and standing on the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers”, although she did cite me as having said it.

Near the beginning of her article, Snopes’ Palma mentioned that I was billed as an “independent Canadian journalist,” immediately following with: “She is also a contributor at RT, a news site funded by the Russian government.”

As noted in part one (and also on my blog), I contribute to a number of sites, RT just one among them, and do so precisely because these independent websites, and RT, allow me to write exactly what I believe, with zero censorship.

In any case, is Snopes as independent, neutral and apolitical as claimed to be, and as an impartial fact checking group must be?

June 2016 article (albeit by the Daily Caller) looked at the politics of some of Snopes’ “fact checkers”, noting “Snopes’ “fact-checking” looks more like playing defense for prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton.”

Another article noted Snopes’ “spinning for (Hillary) Clinton”, as well as occasions where Snopes patently lied.

Forbes had an interesting article on the matter, looking at a sensationalistic Daily Mail exposethat one of Snopes’ founders “embezzled $98,000 of company money and spent it on ‘himself and prostitutes’.” While the Forbes author was initially sceptical of the Daily Mail piece, after corresponding with Snopes’ founder David Mikkelson, he became sceptical of the site’s lack of transparency and the competency of fact checkers.

The myth of Snopes as a reliable, neutral, fact checker is as dead as the myth of the White Helmets as neutral, volunteer, rescuers in Syria.

Canadian Yellow Journalist

Following in the footsteps of Snopes and Channel 4 was a poor attempt at discrediting me by a Canadian corporate hack. I am addressing this feeble smear article solely because Agnès Gruda was an apologist for the terrorists which destroyed Libya, and silenced honest reporting on Iraq.

In January 2017, Montreal, Canada, I was part of a panel on Syria. During the shared panelI spoke for over half an hour, highlighting the need to question the veracity of media reports and of videos produced by the al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets and other compromised Western-funded sources based solely in terrorist-occupied areas.

Following the question period, two Canadian journalists approached demanding an interview, camera already filming. One of the journalists, Alexandra Szacka of Radio Canada, had been persistently messaging me two weeks prior, expressing what she claimed was an interest in hearing my perspective on Syria. A look at her Twitter feed revealed her real interests and allegiances: towing the Western narrative on Syria.

alexandra and agnes while i mention carla del ponte and rebels sarin khan al assal

Agnès Gruda and Alexandra Szacka while I refer to Carla del Ponte’s comments regarding the complicity of  “rebels” in the Khan al Assal chemical weapons attack.

However, based on the request of a mutual contact to grant the interview, I did. Prior to agreeing to the interview with Szacka and sister Agnès Gruda, of La Presse, I pointed out that for the past hour I had given numerous examples of corporate media fabrications, lies, and obfuscations. They pledged to be different. Gruda lied.

Since much of the content of Gruda’s piece is unsurprisingly very similar to prior smears, I’ll address only points not already made, noting, that Gruda also unsurprisingly failed to address a single one of the numerous points I made in that January panel.

As for the December 2016 panel at the UN, Gruda, in her haste to taint the event, wrote that “it was held in fact inside the offices of the Syrian delegation to the UN.”

lie

Screenshot from Gruda’s article.

False. The panel was held in an official press room at the United Nations Headquarters, in an entirely different building complex than (and two blocks away from) the offices of the Syrian mission to the UN.

UN press room location

She correctly, however, stated that I’ve never set foot on the “rebel” side. I’m not keen on being beheaded. Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn even wrote:

They are not there for the very good reason that Isis imprisons and beheads foreigners while Jabhat al-Nusra, until recently the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is only a shade less bloodthirsty and generally holds them for ransom. … all the evidence is that these can only operate in east Aleppo under license from the al-Qaeda-type groups.”

But anyway, when was Gruda in Syria…?

With this sort of “never set foot” on the terrorists’ side comment, war propagandists like Gruda negate the very real suffering of Syrians in government-secured areas being targeted by mortars, rockets, car and suicide bombings and more. It is disingenuous to imply that by visiting the many and vast government-secured areas in Syria one cannot get an accurate idea of the will of Syrian people and their experiences.

Going to population hubs like Damascus, Latakia, Tartous, and Homs, one encounters Syrians from all over the country, from all faiths (see examples from my extensive travels in summer 2016), some of the at least 7 million internal refugees.

In Latakia alone, there are over 1 million internal refugees, including many who have come from areas of Aleppo formerly occupied by militants and terrorists. One can hear their testimonies by visiting shelters for refugees, or even encountering these displaced people in commercial areas, including many internal refugees who have left everything behind, fleeing the terror of western-backed ‘rebels’ for the safety of government-secured areas.

Regarding my four Aleppo  visits in 2016, the areas and routes we took involved frequent potential exposure to ‘rebel’-terrorist sniper fire or shelling.

Had Gruda been present on the November 2nd visit to extremely dangerous areas, in some instances less than 100 metres or even less than 50 metres from al-Qaeda snipers, she would have overheard the bombastic corporate journalists (who would later distort truth on their visit) complaining that they didn’t feel comfortable visiting those areas—areas where we were seeing first-hand the effects of terrorists’ bombings on civilians, and where we were speaking with brave Syrians who had refused to leave, victims of terrorists’ sniping.

Gruda wrote that I relied heavily on this particular trip with mostly corporate journalists (I was interested to see how they would spin truth in their reports) when speaking of Aleppo. In fact, I spoke of my own completely independent visit in July, subsequent independent visit in August, and my other independent visit in November, returning to the city roughly a week after I’d been there with the delegation.

aleppo visits discussed in montreal talk

Screenshot of folder used in my January presentation.

Finally, and again predictably, Gruda attempted to imply I am financed by Russia or Syria, was sceptical that readers who appreciate my efforts donate to me. On that note, please follow me on Patreon or support me via Paypal. This is what truly enables me to survive while fully committing my time to anti-war, anti-occupation, anti-nuke-the-DPRK efforts.

However, on Gruda and her employer, Canadian journalist and author, Yves Englerasked:

“…Does Gruda describe herself as an employee of the billionaire Desmarais family that is heavily involved in Canadian and other countries’ politics? How does Gruda describe journalists who’ve written for Al Jazeera, which is owned by a Qatari monarchy that has backed armed opposition to Assad? Or how about the BBC, CBC and other media outlets owned by governments?

Or, does she mention journalists’ ties when they have freelanced for Radio Canada International, a “Canadian government propaganda arm”? Initially focused on Eastern Bloc countries, beginning in 1945 RCI beamed radio abroad as part of “the psychological war against communism”, according to external minister Lester Pearson. Early on External Affairs was given a copy of the scripts used by commentators and it responded to criticism of Canada’s international policies. Into the 1990s RCI’s funding came directly from External Affairs. Highlighting Russia’s “propaganda system” to a Canadian audience without mentioning the one at home indicates either a journalist’s ignorance or that she is part of it.

I’d say the latter.

Gruda’s Track Record of Supporting Terrorism

While Gruda fails in the ethics department, she is at least consistent: she also cheerled the destruction of Libya, and Iraq prior, romanticizing the militants in Libya as “rebels”, even posing while holding the weapon of one.

aucun

Gruda: “No journalist worthy of the name will say to support any regime whatsoever, or any faction whatsoever. And will not show the symbols of one or the other part …”

Jihadi Agnès, in her article, took issue with my wearing a bracelet with the Syrian flag on it.

But I guess her Brega, Libya, gun-toting pose in a “rebel”-terrorist area is completely professional.

agnes rifle

A very neutral and professional Agnès Gruda in Libya 2011.

More revealingly, Jooneed Khan, an international affairs journalist for 40 years who formerly worked at La Presse, told me of Gruda’s censorship of his honest reporting.

“I spent 3 months of 2003 in Iraq, before, during and after the bombing and the occupation. I was in Baghdad in April 2003 reporting for La Presse. On the day following the toppling of the statue of Saddam in Firdaus Square, I wrote a 1,400 word piece saying Iraqis did not welcome the GIs as ‘liberators’, that armed check-points were going up all over the city, that tension was rising. She, and others, massacred my text, cut in down to 400 words, made it say the opposite of what it said, and published it with my by-line. In 40 years that is the worst case of censorship I met at the hands of my bosses.

Gruda’s Sectarian Slant

Had Gruda wished to speak with Syrians from greater Aleppo, I did offer to connect her with actual accredited doctors working in Aleppo, as well as Sunnis in the city. But, Gruda seemed to prefer approaching her ‘reporting’ from a sectarian perspective and only wished to speak with Christians at the January Montreal event, though many Sunni Syrians were present.

A Bossalinie Armanazi who attended my lecture later messaged me to say that although Gruda was encouraged to interview him, a Sunni, Gruda suddenly didn’t have time. Armanazi wrote to me:

“She had a storyline and needed the right cast with specific characteristics to fit the story. Apparently, I got disqualified because my religious sect and political views did not fit in the story she wants to tell.

I am among the Sunni Muslims that do not support the so-called ‘revolution’ and stand with the Syrian state in addressing and resolving this conflict. I, like many others, did not see any positive change coming out from the so-called rebels, which are nothing but radicalized barbaric groups flowing from all over the world and given political, logistical, financial and weaponry support to fight on behalf of another group of states/kingdoms that have offered nothing but destruction.”

Indeed, the panel’s organizers confirmed that they had encouraged both Agnès Gruda and her sister Alexandra Szacka to interview the many Sunnis present that day. They were not interested.

What Gruda, Channel 4, Snopes, and others issuing smear pieces have done is to concoct articles which negate all valid points I have made, in their attempt to discredit me, and others like me who have gone to Syria and shared the voices and realities of Syrians.

When any of these sites make an error, or lie, (and they do), what is the response? A simple retraction in passing that few will notice anyway. Please recall that the BBC claimed a photo taken in Iraq depicted Houla, Syria. When called out by the photographer, the BBC issued an non-retraction statement of having included that the photo could not be independently verified.

Also recall that the BBC was filming in an area held by extremists, including al-Qaeda and ISIS, and in December 2013 normalized the terrorist group as a “Syrian rebel” group. Robert Stuart has exposed the BBC’s lies in “Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’”. These are not one-offs, these are examples of systematic war propaganda.

When flooded with over 1000 messages/emails in December 2016, I did at least manage to see and address the email from a Toronto-based Buzzfeed writer in December 2016. His smear piece was cookie cutter perfect.

More will follow, and they will follow the CIA memo, and other smear tactics. But after this rebuttal, I’ve got better things to do with my time.

Deconstructing the White Helmets’ Apologists

Regarding the issue so covered up by these various authors–the White Helmets, al-Qaeda’s rescuers–I refer now to a number of excellent articles debunking of the recent Guardian story.

-Ridiculous Guardian Smear Piece Results In Epic Satire, Dec 19, 2017, Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post
-What The Guardian Is Afraid Of When Attacking Honest Syria Reporters?, Dec 20, 2017, Adam Garrie, Oriental Review
-The Guardian’s Attempt to Save the White Helmets, Dec 20, 2017, John Wight, Sputnik
-Understanding The Guardian’s Latest ‘Russia-White Helmets’ Conspiracy Theory, Dec 20, 2017, 21st Century Wire
-UK Column Deconstructs Olivia Solon’s ‘Russia-White Helmets Conspiracy’ Guardian Article, Dec 21, 2017, 21st Century Wire

Veteran journalist John Pilger described the White Helmets as “a complete propaganda construct.

On November 30, 2016, Gareth Porter wrote of the White Helmets, focusing on one particular incident which blew their credibility. He wrote:

“…The highly political role played by the White Helmets in relation to foreign press coverage was dramatically demonstrated after the attack on a Syrian Red Crescent truck convoy in the rebel held area of Urum al-Kubra, just west of Aleppo on September 19. The assault took place immediately after a ceasefire agreed to by Russia, the U.S. and the Syrian government was shattered by a deadly U.S. air attack on Syrian army forces battling ISIS around the city of Deir Ezzor on September 17.

…In the days following the attack, news media coverage relied heavily on accounts provided by the White Helmets. The head of the organization in Aleppo, Ammar Al-Selmo, was offering them a personal on-the-scene account. Selmo’s version of the story turned out to be riddled with falsehoods; however, many journalists approached it without an ounce of skepticism, and have continued to rely on him for information on the ongoing battles in and around Aleppo.”

Porter went on to detail Selmo’s self-contradicting claims, as well as the contradictory statements of another White Helmet member, Urum al-Kubra WH director Hussein Badawi, whose own words contradicted those of Selmo’s claims.

More recently, Porter commented in an interview on RT:

“The White Helmets have been lionized by the news media, and treated as simply heroes of the Syrian war. There has been no criticism really allowed in the media of the White Helmets, in terms of other aspects of what they do that may be less attractive. They have been assigned the job of basically being the propaganda arm of those authorities (al-Qaeda). …It’s a matter of public record. It’s not denied that this organization gets its funding from the United States, from the UK, in the 10s of millions of dollars.”

In his November 2016 article, Porter noted:

“The uncritical reliance on claims by the White Helmets without any effort to investigate their credibility is yet another telling example of journalistic malpractice by media outlets with a long record of skewing coverage of conflicts toward an interventionist narrative.

The Guardian, Channel 4, Snopes, and Agnès Gruda are indeed guilty of journalistic malpractice, and war propaganda of the most heinous kind.

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