Video: “Saving Syria’s Children”: The Worst Case Of Fake News?

Global Research, February 17, 2017

Mike Robinson, Patrick Henningsen and campaigner Robert Stuart take a look at what is quite possibly the worst example of mainstream media fake news in history – the BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria’s Children.

FakeNews week: Assad and Russia’s Slaughter in Syria’: Deconstructing the Media’s Fake ‘War Crimes’ Narrative

By Barbara McKenzie – 21st Century Wire – February 15, 2017

1 BANNER - Fake News Week

In response to the establishment media’s contrived ‘fake news’ crisis designed to marginalise independent and alternative media sources of news and analysis, 21WIRE is running its own #FakeNewsWeek awareness campaign, where each day our editorial team at 21st Century Wire will feature media critiques and analysis of mainstream corporate media coverage of current events – exposing the government and the mainstream media as the real purveyors of ‘fake news’ throughout modern history…

1 no fly zone SyriaBarbara McKenzie

21st Century Wire

NATO and its allies are waging an immoral and illegal war against Syria.  Despite mainstream media denials, the fact remains that their proxies on the ground are criminal gangs with an extremist ideology, committing atrocities on a daily basis.

The crimes against Syria by the hand of western governments and their agents, however, are totally ignored by institutions that support the West in its plan to effect regime change. The agenda stretches from Washington DC, to the US-led ‘Coalition’ governments, right through to the United Nations.

Instead, the West has constructed a narrative of Russian and Syrian ‘war crimes’ which, although refutable at every level, is maintained and promoted by Western politicians, diplomats, UN officials, the corporate media, and social media trolls. The fake narrative is achieved through a comprehensive set of strategies:

MSM Fake News in Syria

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The following is a catalogue of fabricated or misleading stories disseminated by western media in Syria:

The Haas school bombing

On 26 October 2016, news came of a lethal Russian or Syrian airstrike on a school in the village of Haas in Idlib province, northern Syria.

UNICEF smartly issued a statement by Executive Director Anthony Lake, with an implication that the world is remiss in not taking action:

NEW YORK/AMMAN, 26 October 2016 – “Twenty-two children and six teachers were reportedly murdered today when their school compound was repeatedly attacked in Idlib, Syria.

“This is a tragedy. It is an outrage. And if deliberate, it is a war crime.

“This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.

“Children lost forever to their families … teachers lost forever to their students … one more scar on Syria’s future.

“When will the world’s revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?”

Principal sources cited in the media are ‘Syrian Civil Defense’ commonly known as the White Helmets, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), and ‘locals’ or ‘activists’. Pictures are provided by either ‘activists’ or the Revolutionary Forces of Syria, an anti-government media outfit.

The Guardian also cites ‘a doctor who […] asked that his name and the name of his medical facility not be used’. Both the BBC and the Independent quote UNICEF, presumably for its response rather than as a source, as UNICEF has no permanent presence in Idlib, let alone Haas.

The Guardian added value to its article by quoting of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien’s previous report to the UN on the Wednesday (which refers to Aleppo, but not the Idlib school incident). Like Anthony Lake above, O’Brien suggests that some kind of action is called for.

“O’Brien added that he was “incandescent with rage” over the security council’s passivity. “Peoples’ lives [have been] destroyed and Syria itself destroyed. And it is under our collective watch,” he said. “And it need not be like this – this is not inevitable; it is not an accident … Never has the phrase by poet Robert Burns, of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ been as apt. It can be stopped but you, the security council, have to choose to make it stop.”

All the Western media quoted here assume that the attack actually happened. The Washington Post goes further, implying that civilians are deliberately targeted: ‘the seeming denial of targeting civilians in Haas suggests that more of them will die in this horrific conflict.’

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, responded to the reports, saying: “It’s horrible. I hope we were not involved. It’s the easiest thing for me to say no, but I’m a responsible person, so I need to see what my ministry of defence is going to say.”

While the Russians maybe have been cautious in their initial response, others had no doubt at all. Politicians, diplomats, UN officials and human rights organisations were quick to condemn the attack. The Guardian quoted White House spokesman Josh Earnest:

“We don’t know yet that it was the Assad regime or the Russians that carried out the airstrike, but we know it was one of the two.”

French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, issued a statement condemning the bombing:

“The Syrian regime and its supporters – far from implementing the announced truces – have stepped up their bombing campaign. These attacks constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

Gordon Brown, UN envoy for education and former British Prime Minster, at a formal press briefing, described the attack as a ‘descent into barbarism’, and a ‘war crime’, calling on the Security Council to refer ‘the worst assault on school children in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Brown pronounced himself eager to take up Russia’s suggestion of an investigation.

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General likewise called for an investigation. A statement from his office read:

“The Secretary-General is appalled by reports of attacks that killed students and teachers in a school complex in Haas village, Idlib governorate, Syria on 26 October. If deliberate, this attack may amount to a war crime.

The Secretary-General calls for immediate and impartial investigation of this and other similar attacks against civilians in Syria. If such horrific acts persist despite global outrage, it is largely because their authors, whether in corridors of power or in insurgent redoubts, do not fear justice. They must be proved wrong.”

There Was No Air Raid

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Even to the casual observer, the claim of an airstrike, based on the evidence provided to the media by the sources on the ground, looks ridiculous.

The following picture, which was distributed widely, including by the Independent, does not suggest an airstrike, so much as someone attacking the wall with a hammer. The desks are upright and undamaged, and other pictures make it clear that the roof is quite intact.

idlib-school-strike

The video in the Reuters report, Air strikes in Syria’s Idlib kill 26, mostly children: rescuers, monitor” contains very clear footage, which again does not fit with claims of an airstrike.

The Russians promptly sent out a drone to take photos of the area said to be bombed in Haas, and also examined the supposedly incriminating evidence provided by photos in the media. They concluded that ‘the nature and the extent of the damage sustained by the school were not similar to the destruction caused by airstrikes’, noting that the school roof was undamaged, likewise the fence, nor was there was no sign of surrounding buildings being struck.

In this video from RT, ex-Pentagon official Michael Mahloof points out that in an airstrike would have blown the buildings to smithereens, and certainly roofs destroyed.

Others agreed with the Russians’ conclusions.

Comments below the Independent report included the following:

shameWADA_

Oh, another dose of fake info from pseudo-journalists. Actually this

fake was exposed pretty fast. Those ones who interested feel free to

check out photos made by russian UAV a day ago where clearly recorded

TOTAL absence of destructions characteristic for airstrikes – no

destructions of roofs of the buildings, no ANY craters which must be

left after airstrikes etc., plus analysis of photos taken from the

“place of the crime” by those journalists. Cheap fake, as it was with

“attack” on humanitarian convoy on 19 september. Oh, liars and slanderers…

spalpeenuillean

What a huge steaming pile of propaganda. Latest reports on BBC and Al

Jazeera are now saying no children were killed. Also saying that the

school was hit by a ‘missile’, not a bomb. Local people interviewed on

AJ confirm that the school was used by terrorists as a command centre

and ammunition store.

Although the evidence provided to the media by their sources proves, if anything, that there was no airstrike, not one of the corporate media outlets quoted here questioned the veracity of the story.  It seems as if the media’s narrative took priority over factual reporting.

Claim: Russia and Assad ‘Target Hospitals’

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A number of people have written on the fraudulent and hypocritical nature of reporting on hospitals, including two excellent reports:

The claims of Russia targeting civilians and public buildings such as schools and hospitals – and deliberately, began soon after it entered the war in the fall of 2015, reaching a crescendo during the liberation of Aleppo in December 2016. Often the claims lack detail and are impossible to verify; sometimes the hospitals have names like ‘M10,’ and are unregistered, or are completely unknown to the people of Aleppo with some likely to be ‘rebel’ (terrorist) field hospitals or pop-up triage units. On the rare occasion that mainstream media reports offer any specifics, once again they turn out to be fake news.

On October 20-21st, western media accused Russia of bombing hospitals in six municipalities in Syria. Russia investigated and found that in five towns there were no hospitals at all, while the sixth town, Sarmin, had a hospital that, contrary to reports of it destruction was quite intact.

The fact of specific claims being debunked, or of ‘civilian hospitals’ being shown to be military facilities used by gazetted terrorist organisations, never halts the progress of the narrative, and despite the long list of misreporting and disinformation in this area of coverage, retractions are rarely, if ever reported by western media outlets after the fact.

How Media, Politicians, NGOS and UN Deliberately Use Illegitimate Sources
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The lesson to be learned from this is not only that the media occasionally publish anti-Russian or anti-Assad stories which are incorrect, and then when the stories are exposed as fake forget to apologise. The crucial problem is that the media rely as a matter or course on discredited sources, or sources funded by the very same governments who are responsible for arming and finding the ‘rebel’ terrorist fighters attempting to destabilize and overthrow the government in Syria.

Both the White Helmets and the SOHR were created by the British Foreign Office (and in the case of the White Helmets directly funded by the US State Dept and other NATO member states and Qatar ) for the express purpose of devising propaganda to the detriment of the Syrian government and of Russian operations in Syria.  Their sole function is to discredit ‘Assad’ and Russia in order to fulfill the eternal hope of the FCO of gaining approval, either from the UN or the British public, for a Libya-style No-Fly Zone. In addition to this, their video material purporting to show ‘brutal atrocities from Assad and Russia’ are circulated through Gulf media and are effective recruitment propaganda for prospective jihadist fighters wanting to join the fight in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is based in Coventry, England. The man who runs it, Osama Suleiman, goes by the false pseudonym of Rami Abdulrahman, and was formerly imprisoned as a criminal in Syria before the war began in 2011, and is an unabashed supporter of the ‘revolution’ and has the flag of the ‘armed opposition’ prominent on the banner of the SOHR twitter account, @syriahr.

Regarding the White Helmets, the very name “Syrian Civil Defence” is a travesty, as it usurps the name of the legitimate REAL Syria Civil Defence. White Helmets are intertwined with terrorist gangs in regions like Aleppo and Idlib, and most notably with the ISIS-aligned Nour al-Din al-Zinki group. They have been filmed with groups waving terrorist flags, abusing prisoners, and taking part in terrorist operations. Even if there were truth in the fable that their primary function is humanitarian, to consider them as an “impartial source” is ridiculous.

The antics of the White Helmets are often so obviously staged that it is hard to imagine that anyone would be taken in.  Again, however, that is not the point. Even if they had better actors, even if the shoots looked less like glossy commercials and instead achieved the immediacy and conviction of, for example, like the real scenes shot by RT in the hospitals of Western Aleppo, the fact remains that they are heavily partial and should never be given the benefit of the doubt.

Since the beginning of the Syrian War, the western media have exclusively used a bevy of ‘unnamed activists’ as their sources on the ground, activist meaning members of extremist groups aligned with al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) or ISIS, and journalists who have been based in the northern Syria and Turkey and who openly support the ideology of these Salafi and religious extremist groups (and are therefore acceptable to them). American Bilal Abdul Kareem, a born again takfiri, reported regularly for the BBC and CNN from Aleppo before liberation.

During the liberation of Aleppo these journalists were portrayed by Al Jazeera , CNN and others, as ‘average people’ able to speak for the people of Aleppo, all dramatically filing their “last message” – presumably before the “brutal Assad regime” finally converged on them.

Civilians in Aleppo are filming their goodbyes.

All these news sources are illegitimate, and known to be illegitimate, and thus all reports from these sources should be treated as fake news. It is dishonest and unprofessional for the media to rely on any of these sources.

The corporate media and humanitarian organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accept or seek out the fake news from these discredited sources, and publish and republish it without a qualm.

The humanitarian fake news is then picked up and amplified by politicians, diplomats and United Nations officials, including the UN Secretary General himself.

The inherent illegitimacy of sources like the White Helmets, and the examples of proven dishonesty and fakery, has done nothing to prevent them being used as evidence by media and politicians alike. On 25 September, TIME Magazine ignored all the evidence that there was no bombing of the UN humanitarian convoy, and reiterated the White Helmets story, and furthermore claimed that the White Helmets were being deliberately targeted by Russian and Syrian air power – and the media’s ‘source’? Once again, being the White Helmets.

Atrocities by Western-backed Terrorists are Routinely Ignored or Downplayed

The reaction to the alleged bombing in Haas by media and spokespeople alike stands in sharp contrast to the response to the crimes of the insurgents. Terrorists have shelled schools in government areas throughout the conflict, with frightful consequences but these atrocities are reported only in passing, if at all, with little or no comment from human rights agencies and United Nations officials.

On 28 October there was a genuine attack on a school in Haidaq al-Andalus.

A Google search for the attack under the name of the school gives no hits from the corporate media, though they had all reported on the alleged bombing of the Haas school a couple of days earlier.

Eva Bartlett assesses the responses to attacks on Syrian schools in the piece, “UN covers up war crimes in Syria, citing U.S. backed Al-Qaeda propagandists,”  as well as considering the evidence for the Haas school ‘bombing’. With reference to UNICEF’s response to the Haas bombing claims cited above, Bartlett observes:

“With supreme audacity, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake further claimed that this “airstrike” may be “the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.”

Perhaps Lake was otherwise distracted when on October 1, 2014, terrorists car and suicide bombed the Akrama Al-Makhzoumi School in Homs, killing at least 41 children by conservative estimates, or up to 48 children by other reports, along with women and other civilians.

[…] no similar statement of condemnation and anguish for the children murdered at the Akrama school bombings can be found on UNICEF’s website, even prior to Lake.”

 When all else fails, the media construct their own fake news.

Media distortion and fabrication is nothing new, and Syria is no exception.

On 30 September 20 year old Mireille Hindoyan and her 12 year old brother Arman were killed by terrorist shelling of the Armenian quarter of western Aleppo. The story was largely ignored by the corporate media, but one who did pick it was the Independent, who created the impression that the children were the victims of Russian bombing:

[The incident] came after medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said there had been a “bloodbath” in Aleppo amid a sustained assault on the city by pro-Assad forces backed by Russian warplanes.

In September 2013 the BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports claimed to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a school in Urm Al-Kubra, Aleppo. In his analysis, Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘, independent media analyst Robert Stuart has shown that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of the attack were completely staged.

 

Deflectionpicture. The editing was sloppy …

 Fake news demonising Syria and Russia is used to deflect attention from war crimes by NATO’s proxy agents on the ground, i.e. the terrorist groups, and also by NATO itself, both in general and in specific instances.

The terrorist groups operating out of eastern Aleppo until liberation in December 2016, all of which are aligned with ISIS and/or Al Nusra, the two branches of al Qaeda in Syria – shelled the 1.5 million residents of government western Aleppo on a daily basis for years. During the weeks RT’s Murad Gazdiev was reporting the gruesome details from Aleppo hospitals, RT documented many of these horrific scenes.

The western and Gulf-backed ‘rebel’ terrorists in eastern Aleppo were known to have carried out mass executions in eastern Aleppo. Reports of these atrocities were largely ignored in the West. The corporate media spread a series of fake news stories of ‘Russia and Syria deliberately targeting hospitals, schools, animal shelters’ etc to deflect from the reality of the hell people in all parts of Aleppo were experiencing at the hands of the terrorists.

The fact of terrorists shooting at people fleeing from terrorist-held eastern Aleppo into the government-protect western part of Aleppo during liberation of the city was inverted by the media into the nonsense story of ‘Syrian soldiers shooting fleeing residents,’ a lie widely distributed, and again, one which relies on the testimony of the White Helmets.

Around July 19, 2016, a video emerged of the last moments of a 12 year old Palestinian boy in Aleppo named Abdullah Issa, who had his head sawed off by a mocking Nour al-Din al Zinki terrorist group. The story was too horrific to be ignored even by the Western media.

However, Abdullah’s grizzly death was eclipsed in the eyes of the world’s media just a few weeks later by the story of little Omran Daqneesh, the little boy who was pulled out of the rubble. The video below shows how staged the whole affair was; the boy was released a few hours later with nothing but scratches – essentially a fake story of a non-event. The still picture took the corporate media by storm, with the whole affair descending into farce when CCN’s Kate Bolduan was apparently reduced to tears by the sight of the shocked, confused or simply bored Omran.

It is unclear why the White Helmets and the Aleppo Media Center needed to stage these performances, when supposedly there are thousands of real victims of Russian/Syrian bombing. Regardless, the armed opposition’s media operation is unrelenting.

In mid-October 2016, 6 year old Mahmoud Halyaf, who was born without arms, lost his legs when he triggered a terrorist landmine in Aleppo province.

The Mahmoud story received little coverage in the Western media, who were determined that Omran be the face of Syria’s children, not Abdullah, not Arman Hindoyan, nor Mahmoud. Whereas TIME Magazine, for example, has had at least 7 articles on Omran, a Google search reveals no TIME articles exist on Mahmoud, Abdullah or Arman. A search for the name Arman Hindoyan only gives the dishonest Independent article insinuating his death was caused by Russian bombing.

Deflection from NATO’s War Crimes

.On September 17, 2016 NATO forces bombed Syrian troops who protect the city of Deir ez Zor, just prior to an attack by ISIS. The US claims that is was an accident. However, the Syrian government believe that NATO was consciously cooperating in a previously agreed plan. Over 60 troops died in the sustained air attack, with some reports suggesting over 80, and scores more were wounded. Even if this horrific attack on Syrian troops was a mistake, it can hardly be termed ‘friendly fire’, as the action of NATO military forces in Syria is illegal under international law.

Russia requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council. The US response was extraordinary. Samantha Power, the US envoy, derailed the closed meeting by leaving as soon as Churkin got up to speak, choosing instead to address the press outside the chamber. Her strategy was to go on the attack with a tirade against Russia: Power insisted the Russians were trying to score “cheap points” by making so much of the US attack; the meeting described as ‘a stunt’, a ‘diversion’: ‘when you don’t like the facts, try to create attention somewhere else’.  There was no apology to the Syrian people – the US attack on Syrian troops and the ensuing loss of life were completely trivialised.

The UN Humanitarian Convoy

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NATO’s airstrike on Syrian troops, and the accompanying loss of life, was quickly forgotten when, just two days later, there were reports of a ‘Russia/Assad’ airstrike on a humanitarian convoy headed for Aleppo. The source for the story was members of the White Helmets.

Video evidence relating to the alleged bombing is less than convincing. Despite the distance, White Helmet Ammar el Selmo knows the location of the incident, and exactly what is being ‘bombed’. Giving the date in a moment of excitement also seems unlikely.

Gareth Porter analysed in some detail the discrepancies in the various reports offered by Ammar el Selmo and other White Helmets operatives, including:

  • Selmo insists the attack was carried out by Russian bombers and ‘Assad’ helicopters dropping barrel bombs, while another White Helmet spokesman, Hussein Badawi, claims that missiles were launched from the ground.
  • Selmo changed his story several times: after first claiming to be a kilometre away, he then decides he was having tea across the street. Helicopters dropped first 2 barrel bombs, then 4, then 8.
  •  The forensic evidence provided does not make sense, e.g. Selmo points to a small hole in the ground and claims it was made by a barrel bomb – barrel bombs leaves craters at least 25 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

The NATO/Atlantic Council-linked blog Bellingcat, which specialises in pseudo forensic reports (based on internet research) specifically designed to always prove Russian and Syrian culpability in warcrimes, produced its own interpretation which turned out to be counterproductive, as shown by Patrick Armstrong in his article, Bellingcat proves the Russians didn’t do it.

The UN launched into accusations of war crime, but Russia denied carrying out an airstrike in the area and the UN had to back down when evidence suggested that damage to the convoy was not caused by bombing.

While the affair provoked much ridicule on social media, the corporate media were quick to assume that the UN convoy was bombed, on the authority of the White Helmets, ‘locals’ and even the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The incident provided a pretext for renewed verbal attacks on Russia and Syria, but was almost certainly devised for the express purpose of diverting attention away from US-NATO’s horrific attack on Deir ez Zor. That the UN convoy incident was quickly debunked made no difference – the diversion was achieved, and in any case, fake or not, contributed to the ongoing narrative.

‘The Last Hospital in Aleppo’

.Purely on the basis of White Helmet evidence, there was a barrage of reports of ‘Assad/Russia’ taking out the last hospital in Aleppo, the last bloodbankthe last clown, and a ‘world-famous’ cat sanctuarySouthbank found 21 last hospitals alleged to have been bombed; here is summary from another source:

“When a hospital in East Aleppo is destroyed, 10 new spring up in its place.” – Syrian proverb. https://twitter.com/annie_sparrow/status/799743773420859392 

The lie of Saddam Hussein pulling neo-natals from Kuwaiti incubators was rehashed when news came that the last children’s hospital in Aleppo had been destroyed and babies had to be rescued from incubators, with accompanying video. We are led to believe that it was the Independent report of the story that inspired Anna Alboth to organise the Civil March for Aleppo.

The story was obviously fraudulent – no-one ever handles a newborn baby the way the supposed healthcare professional handled the doll (I hope it was a doll) in the video (from 2:31). That the mainstream media widely promoted the story without question reveals the extent of their complicity in the propaganda campaign against Syria.

Barrel Bombs: Weapon of Mass Distraction

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The term barrel bomb has become a politically charged trigger as part of the wider new western nomenclature for what they call Syria’s ‘civil war’. 
The intention is that barrel bombs should have the same resonance as cluster bombs, to suggest something particularly sinister and particularly powerful.

There is no evidence that barrel bombs have properties on a par with cluster bombs, or napalm, nor are they especially destructive compared to other munitions. The attribution of particularly sinister powers to barrel bombs by the likes of John le Mesurier, founder of the White Helmets, who claimed they had the ‘seismological equivalent of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake‘, is clearly nonsense. See Vanessa Beeley, Syria: Consign “Barrel Bombs” to the Propaganda Graveyard

Whether or not the Syrian Air Arab Airforce has ever resorted to such weapons, the conceptualisation of barrel bombs as being particularly evil, the very use of which is a war crime, is a fake construct.

 

Soft Fake News

.The goal is to create an assumption of extensive and relentless bombing by Russia of places where civilians, and especially children, congregate. In addition to specific claims of atrocities, the message is accompanied or followed by ‘soft fake news’, designed to reinforce, amplify and humanise the message.

Project like Bana, the little girl who tweets from Aleppo, the ‘Civil March for Aleppo’ and the ‘People’s Convoy’ were specifically designed to create this kind of soft fake news. Their principal role is not so much to construct fake news stories, as to create the impression that Russia/Assad war crimes (‘bombbing’ in Bana’s parlance) are an established fact.

The organiser of the People’s Convoy is Rola Hallam, who also participated in the fraudulent BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.

Hyperbole

Having dishonestly created, as they hope, an assumption of Russian and Syrian excess, the point is then rammed home by politicians, the corporate media and on social media in the most extravagant terms.

At a UNSC meeting on 25 September 2016, Washington’s then UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, reiterating the accusation that Russia is bombing the humanitarian convoys, hospitals and first responders, talks of Russia’s ‘barbarism.’

At the same meeting the UK envoy Matthew Rycroft claimed ‘the regime and Russia’ have instead plunged to new depths and unleashed a new hell on Aleppo. In a further meeting on 30 September Power claimed what ‘Assad and Russia’ were doing in Aleppo was ‘soul-shattering‘, ‘sowing the doom of Syria, were providing a gift to ISIL and Nusra Front’. According to the Guardian Power also talked of “the most savage week we’ve seen in an incredibly savage five-plus-year war”, with more than 1,000 people killed by 1,700 airstrikes on east Aleppo alone (sources presumably being the White Helmets).

The same meeting heard a diatribe from United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien, who urged the 15-member U.N. Security Council to stop “tolerating the utter disregard for the most basic provisions of international humanitarian law.” He stated:

‘East Aleppo this minute is not at the edge of the precipice, it is well into its terrible descent into the pitiless and merciless abyss of a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria.

‘The only remaining deterrent it seems is that there will be real accountability in the court of world opinion and disgust – goodness knows, nothing else seems to be working to stop this deliberate, gratuitous carnage of lives lost.’

At a meeting on 8 October at which Russia vetoed a UN resolution to stop bombing in Aleppo, New Zealand envoy Gerard van Bohemen, in a speech worthy of Samantha Power, told the Security Council that ‘Russia and Syria are using counter-terrorism as a pretext for the mass murder of civilians‘, while the US deputy ambassador, David Pressman, claimed that ‘Russia has become one of the chief purveyors of terror in Aleppo, using tactics more commonly associated with thugs than governments’.

Given the intemperate language of politicians and diplomats, one would hardly expect the media to moderate theirs, thus the Mirror‘s, ‘Russia has now joined [Assad’s] bloodsoaked campaign, sending its own warplanes to inflict even more destruction upon Syria, especially Aleppo. Social media, needless to say, did not pull any punches either:

Hey @RaniaKhalek, as an unbiased individual, do you think a no-fly zone over Syria is good? Or counterproductive in fighting Daesh?

@BrotherAbuRahma I don’t think it will stop the Assad/Russia slaughter & will fuel more bombing from all sides w/ potential for ww3

Aleppo is liberated, the truth uncovered, but the narrative rolls on regardless

.The liberation of eastern Aleppo, and the testimony of its residents, should have put paid to many of the myths about the Syrian war, not least the bogus claims about the White Helmets.  However the fake narrative of ‘Assad/Russian’ war crimes continues – nothing is to be allowed to slow its progress, neither the exposure of fake claims and invalid sources, nor the new revelations coming out of  Aleppo. Paul Mansfield comments in After the Liberation of Aleppo Comes the Psyops War, which looks at the allegations of crimes by Syrian and allied troops.

The tired and hungry residents of Aleppo are being provided with much-needed food, medical treatment, clothes and blankets and shelter in internally displaced persons camps. The images of this are unmistakable. Despite this we still hear from the western media that people are fleeing the fighting, that regime soldiers have taken over the devastated city, that people trapped inside East Aleppo have held out for four years of bombardment and siege and that far from being a battle of liberation this is a Russian and Syrian regime “onslaught.” The word liberation is nowhere to be found. A bit like the honesty and integrity of the mainstream fakerstan media.

Samantha Power, in her final speech to the United Nations on 17 January 2017, was still quoting the White Helmets, ‘the brave first-responders’.

We saw it in 2015, when Russia went further by joining the assault on the Syrian people, deploying its own troops and planes in a campaign that hit hospitals, schools, and the brave Syrian first-responders who were trying to dig innocent civilians out of the rubble. And with each transgression, not only were more innocent civilians killed, maimed, starved, and uprooted, but the rules that make all our nations more secure – including Russia – were eroded.

The total disconnect between the NATO narrative and any regard for truth is further illustrated by the Atlantic Council’s latest report, dramatically entitled, “Breaking Aleppo.”  Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins is listed as one of the writers; sources include the Aleppo Media Center, which like the White Helmets operates as part of the vicious al Zinki group, Bellingcat, the White Helmets, and the Syrian American Medical Society, which is funded by George Soros. The report has a special section dedicated to hospital attacks, which repeats the same propaganda peddled throughout the war and, without blinking, relies on the same discredited sources.

Maj. General Igor Konashenkov, speaking on behalf of the Russian Defense Ministry, was unimpressed with both the report’s ‘lame duck authors’, and its content:

it is not a coincidence that the report never mentions the mined schools, the warehouses of ammunition and firing positions in closed hospitals, the militant warehouses stuffed with groceries, drugs and medical equipment, mass graves of civilians shot in the head: from children to the elderly’

Meanwhile, NATO war crimes, even the use of depleted uranium (raised again as an issue now but actually reported back in October 2016) continue to be ignored or downplayed.

This is what George Orwell meant

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Western governments and their agents have used every dishonest stratagem they could think of, in order to create a fake narrative, so that public perception of the Syrian conflict is an inversion of reality.

The NATO strategy is to:

    • Shut down debate on the nature of its proxies on the ground, and of their criminal acts;
    • Shut down debate on its own warmongering and its support for criminals who are anathema to the Syrian people;
    • Shut down debate on the legitimacy of the position of the Syrian government and its allies, and their right to defend Syria; and above all
    • Ensure that it is Syria and its allies who are portrayed as war criminals, rather than NATO, its allies and its agents.

From beginning to end, the mainstream media’s coverage of Syria has been intentionally distorted, portraying fake news as fact, in order to support an aggressive geopolitical agenda by the West.

***

Author Dr Barbara McKenzie is an independent researcher and special contributor to 21st Century Wire. Visit her research blog here

Mainstream British Press Propaganda Ramps Up Dangerous War Rhetoric against Russia

Mainstream British Press Propaganda Ramps Up Dangerous War Rhetoric against Russia

By Graham Vanbergen,

Screen-Shot-2017-01-18-at-08.54.52

The British press are in full hysteria propaganda mode when it comes to demonising our new greatest threat on planet earth; not climate change, a global pandemic, international terrorism, or America’s new foe in the South China Sea – but Russia.

The Telegraph 31/12/16: “Systemic, relentless, predatory’ Russian cyber threat to US power grid exposed as malware found on major electricity company computer.”

The Independent 13/12/16: “Highly probable Russian interfered with Brexit referendum.”

The Express 15/01/17: “Russians forcing RAF to abort missions in Syria by ‘hacking into’ their systems”

The Guardian 14/01/17: “Senior British politicians ‘targeted by Kremlin’ for smear campaigns”

In all of these newspaper reports, and there are plenty more of them, not a single scrap of actual evidence other than hearsay is published. In the case of the Express story, it’s allegations are backed up with the statement “It is entirely feasible that Russia has targeted Tornadoes and Typhoons in this way,” said air defence expert Justin Bronk, of the Royal United Services Institute think-tank.” This is not evidence.

In the case of the Telegraph, this fairy-tail has been 100% debunked as pure propaganda and the original report from the Washington Post ended with a full-on apology by its editor. The Telegraph has printed no such amendment or apology for its totally fictitious article.

The Guardian’s headline is pure misinformation as it’s sole point of evidence is an MP (Chris Bryant), explaining that incumbent Foreign Office ministers could not speak out on the (Russian hacking) issue because of security connotations, and said:  “Any minister who goes into the Foreign Office and has responsibility for Russia, they [Moscow] will be, in any shape or form, trying to put together information about them.” As if to strengthen the ‘evidence’, Bryant says he is “absolutely certain that Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Alan Duncan who has the Russia brief, and [Brexit secretary] David Davis will have been absolutely looked at.” This is not evidence.

The funny thing is this; the story may be true and quite probably is, but so what.

In October 2015, Britain’s own spy agency confirmed it was spying on Britain’s MP’s and at the time was given court immunity when challenged. It determined that MPs’ communications were not protected from surveillance by intelligence agencies. This case came about because Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Baroness Jenny Jones and former MP George Galloway, that revelations from Edward Snowden, showed MPs’ communications were being spied on by GCHQ despite laws protecting them.

Around the same time we learn that a well known paedophile ran a lodge set up by GCHQ for its spies to monitor important political ‘targets’ ie our own MP’s and other public figures.

Back in 1983 Margaret Thatcher used Britain’s latest and most advanced surveillance system named ‘Echelon’ (Read: ECHELON – The Start of Britain’s Modern Day Spying Operations) to Spy on Government Ministers’. It was an American design and the first major state surveillance system using satellite and IT systems to spy worldwide. Indeed Echelon was originally created in the 1960s to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies throughout the Cold War by Britain and America. All of this data being shared with America – and whichever way you look at it, is a foreign government.

America’s NSA monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders in another Snowden leak three years ago. Germany’s Spiegel reported in 2014 that “Documents show Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance.” So distrustful of the British that Chancellor Merkel announced a counter-espionage offensive designed to curb mass surveillance conducted by the US NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.  Today it is reported by IntelNews that the “discord between British and German intelligence services, which began at the same time in 2014, allegedly persists and now constitutes the “biggest rift between the secret services” of the two countries “since World War II”.

Just six months ago we found out that “GCHQ and NSA routinely spy on UK politicians’ e-mails” that included privileged correspondence between parliamentarians and their constituents and before that, internal MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents reveal routine interception of legally privileged communications. The information obtained was exploited unlawfully to be used by the agencies in the fighting of court cases in which they themselves were involved.

Amazingly, we recently find out just last week that Israeli embassy staff, quite likely Mossad operatives – “are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British interests.” And yet, there has been little comment in the British press about foreign infiltration of government minsters by Israel.

If Russia were not spying on our MP’s, they would be the only ones not at it. No-one trusts anyone. Spying is old news and fully expected. We are ALL being spied on nowadays.

The British press are complicit in their reckless rhetoric designed to instil fear into the population with dangerous propaganda that could easily lead to tensions becoming so dangerous that a real ‘hot war’ starts. Whilst America is shielded by continental Europe and the Atlantic ocean, Britain could be used as a pawn to be sacrificed on the international chess-game of winner-takes-all. We have no ‘special-relationship’, there never has been one, and an irresponsible press being a mouthpiece that ramps up the stress between the US/NATO and Russia is absolutely against the interests and national security of Britain.

As Laurence Krauss’s (chair of the board of sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and is on the board of the Federation of American Scientists) article last October alarmingly points out – “Trump has said he would consider using nuclear weapons against ISIS and suggested that it would be good for the world if Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia acquired them.” Trump could be one seriously dangerous individual for world peace – who knows!

So much for Trump but as Krauss goes on to say that “In general, during the Obama presidency, we have only deepened our dangerous embrace of nuclear weapons. At the moment, around a thousand nuclear weapons are still on a hair-trigger alert; as they were during the Cold War, they are ready to be launched in minutes in response to a warning of imminent attack.” 

Who in their right mind would support this lunacy?

Syria, BBC and fake news

Saving Syria’s Children: The Director’s Cut?

1) BBC Worldwide has been swift to block the short excerpt from Saving Syria’s Children included here. I have now replaced it with a OneDrive upload:

https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/saving-syrias-children-the-directors-cut/

bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com
Update, 11 January 2017: the short clip from Saving Syria’s Children referenced in this post has been swiftly blocked on You Tube by BBC Worldwide, as has a substituted copy – see here …

2) At yesterday’s press conference, Saving Syria’s Children reporter Ian Pannell challenged Donald Trump over his accusations of “false news”: 

TRUMP: Go ahead, go ahead, you’ve been waiting, go ahead
IAN PANNELL: As far as we understand the intelligence community are…
TRUMP: Stand up please
IAN PANNELL: Yeah, Ian Pannell from BBC News…
TRUMP: What?
IAN PANNELL: Ian Pannell from BBC News
TRUMP: BBC News, that’s another beauty
IAN PANNELL: Thank you – thank you. Er, as far as we understand it the intelligence community are still looking at these allegations, it’s false news as you describe it. If they come back with any kind of conclusion that any of it, er, stands up, that any of it is true, will you consider your position, would you think about resign…
TRUMP: There’s nothing they could come back with.
Will Mr. Pannell consider his position with the BBC if the evidence of inconsistencies in his own reporting provides ground to charges of “false news”?
3) Is the star of BBC2’s ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ a gun runner?
In a recent article Humanitarian & Emergency Aid specialist Moeen Raoof made the following allegations about Dr Saleyha Ahsan, one of the two British medics featured in Saving Syria’s Children and presenter of the BBC2 health series Trust Me I’m A Doctor:
After the meeting in Nairobi, Mr. Afshar [former Foreign Office diplomat Reza Afshar] then met in London with Saleyha Ahsan, who claims to be a doctor and ia [sic] Sandhurst graduate becoming the first Muslim woman to be commissioned in the British Army. Ahsan, whose previous role was to provide arms and logistics assistance to the Libyan rebels during the so-called Arab Spring while based in Benghazi, was now actively supporting the rebels in Syria, as well as training of rebels in the UK in the use of arms, battlefield first aid and running of British Muslim jihadists travelling out to Syria in road convoys involving second-hand British ambulances, this was a sequel to her active role in Libya previously.
Shortly after the meeting between Afshar and Ahsan, the latter proceeded to Turkey where she received several containers from Kenya, these containers, Ahsan claimed were medical equipment, operating theatre equipment, medicines and other related equipment; once cleared, the containers were shipped out to the Turkey-Syria Border and handed-over to rebels who used the weapons to hold on to towns and cities as well as areas, thanks to the intervention of all involved, including the sacrifice of a US ambassador in Benghazi.
This material has been forwarded to the police. Dr Ahsan’s employers have been drawn into comment on Twitter.
My correspondence with the BBC regarding Dr Ahsan can be found here and a number of startling inconsistencies in Dr Ahsan’s accounts of the events depicted in Saving Syria’s Children are gathered here.
Dr Ahsan was recently reunited with her Saving Syria’s Children colleague Dr Rola Hallam when they led the “People’s Convoy” to Syria. Dr Hallam’s connections are detailed here and depicted in the image below:
Robert Stuart

https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu6TlmHnd4c

https://twitter.com/cerumol

ROBERT STUART’S BLOG https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/ Did the BBC Fake ‘Saving Syria’s Children’? Robert Stuart is a former newspaper …
bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com
Analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, contending that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Ata…

Retaliation Promised: Russian Ambassador’s Murder Justified, Even Praised Across the West

December 23, 2016 (Ulson Gunnar – NEO) – In the week leading up to the brazen, cold-blooded murder of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara, Turkey, the United States repeatedly and publicly threatened “retaliation” against Russia for allegedly “hacking” the 2016 US presidential elections.

During the same week, Syrian forces backed by Russian airpower and Iranian ground support, finally ended the occupation of the northern city of Aleppo by armed militants who invaded in 2012. The inevitable liberation of Aleppo was accompanied by apoplectic hysteria across Western political, policy and pundit circles calling for everything from additional sanctions on Russia to threats against the lives of Russians themselves.

While the Western media has since attempted to dismiss murmurs across Russian and Turkish media in the aftermath of Ambassador Karlov’s assassination implicating US involvement, they simultaneously appear incapable of concealing what can only be described as delight over the tragic attack.

The Washington Post, in an article titled, “Turkish police officer, invoking Aleppo, guns down Russian ambassador in Ankara,” would characterize the assassination as a “retaliatory attack,” stating:

The shooting was among the most brazen retaliatory attacks yet on Russia since Moscow entered the war in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, and unleashed a bombardment on Aleppo that has drawn international condemnation for what observers on the ground have called indiscriminate attacks on civilians. 

The Washington Post also intentionally portrays labeling the incident as a terrorist attack as Moscow’s exclusive point of view, claiming:

But in Moscow, where the Kremlin has maintained that its aerial sorties and missile attacks have exclusively targeted “terrorists,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the shooting “a terrorist attack,” and President Vladi­mir Putin called it a “provocation aimed at rupturing ties between Russia and Turkey.”

The Washington Post is able to refrain from openly applauding the assassination, but does everything in its power to legitimize, even defend it within the context of an angry “police officer” provoked by what the Washington Post calls Russia’s “indiscriminate attacks on civilians.” Relegated deep within the article and beyond the attention span of most readers, are details that reveal Ambassador Karlov’s attacker as a participant in organized terror.

CNN, the BBC and the New York Times have also carried, almost verbatim, the same talking points and perspectives provided by the Washington Post, just falling short of openly defending the attack or praising the attacker.

Elsewhere, however, pundits help readers unable to read between the lines of these messages. The New York Daily News in an article titled, “Assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was not terrorism, but retribution for Vladimir Putin’s war crimes,” connects the dots plotted out by papers like the Washington Post. It bluntly states:

The image of an assassin standing over the dying body of Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov is a shocking one — but not a surprising one. 

As Vladimir Putin’s man in Turkey, Karlov was the public face of that murderous dictator’s war crimes around the globe and of oppression at home. Andrei Karlov is the human embodiment of policies that deployed bunker busters to kill babies, sent fighter planes on scorched earth bombing runs that destroyed a whole city, aided Syrian madman Bashar al-Assad in his campaign that has killed hundreds of thousands, and even ordered attacks on UN aid workers.

In addition to the baseless, even fully discredited accusations made, the New York Daily News compares Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, and Ambassador Karlov’s attacker to a “soldier — not a terrorist.”

The Western media does not perform “journalism,” but rather reflects the thinking and designs of Western policymakers, politicians and power brokers. That the media appears unanimously spinning the attack as “retaliatory,” after spending the last week promising “retaliation” is if nothing else the worst case of institutional self-incrimination in recent memory. More likely, it is a blunt, ugly gesture toward Russia.

Unfortunately for the West, they find themselves threatening the world and celebrating the murder of ambassadors shot in the back by terrorists not from a position of strength, but from a position of profound and growing weakness. It is a vicious cycle that will only further undermine their legitimacy, diminish their influence and accelerate their decline.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Fake News Compilation (BBC, CNN, FOX, NBC, NYT)

Fake News Compilation (BBC, CNN, FOX, NBC, NYT)

 

Ten Massive Fake News Stories Western Media Has Been Feeding You On Aleppo

Ten Massive Fake News Stories Western Media Has Been Feeding You On Aleppo By Baran Hines,

aleppo

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has secured control of Aleppo city after more than 4 years of fighting in what is Syria’s most strategically important city, second to the capital Damascus. Western media has chosen to explain this victory to the world as bad news for the interests of peace and humanity in Syria, claiming that thousands of civilians will now die from government retaliation.

The reason the battle for Aleppo is so significant in the Syrian proxy war is because of its strategic importance to the country of Syria as a whole. Controlling Aleppo would give opposition groups leverage in a situation where Syria is broken into pieces. It is also part of the geopolitical concerns over competing natural gas pipelines which would be built partially in Syria.

The battle for Aleppo has been described inaccurately for years and what follows is an explanation of 10 common lies or omissions which still continue today.

1. The city is still under total siege because of the Syrian Army and Russians

Aleppo is an ancient city and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, populated since at least the 3rd millennium BC. Aleppo is both a rural province and an urban city inside of it, which is about the same size as Washington D.C. by land area. Western media reports about the ongoing battle do not account for this and conveys the images that millions of people are trapped in an urban city where the Syrian Army and Russians will not stop bombing them. Aleppo had a pre-war population of over 2 million people. It is a center of commerce and trading with Turkey, as well as a conduit between the Middle East and Europe.

The battle for Aleppo has been intense and has destroyed significant parts of the city’s eastern neighborhoods. However, even at the height of the battle, western media reported claims that 250,000 people may be left in rebel-held areas and might die from starvation, water shortages, and lack of medical care. This number has been disputed and thought to be lower, however Russian officials say over 100,000 people have been escorted to safety from East Aleppo. Videos have shown thousands of people passing through corridors opened by the Syrian Army.

It is unknown how many civilians are left in the areas still under bombardment, but the scale of conflicting information is significant. There are no credible reports of how many casualties have been caused by bombing. The only specific number that western news has consistently reported claims 82 civilians have been executed by Syrian government forces in recent weeks, which comes from the controversial Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

BBC
It is hard to know exactly how many people are in the besieged areas, although UN envoy Staffan de Mistura put the figure at about 50,000. He said there were approximately 1,500 rebel fighters, about 30% of whom were from the jihadist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front. Other local sources say there could be as many as 100,000 people, many of them arriving from areas recently taken by the government.

Other reports claim what seems to be obvious, that East Aleppo is basically empty and most that are left are part of extremist groups or held hostage by them.

WASHINGTON POST
East Aleppo, which was under rebel control, is destroyed.

Syrian state television broadcast live footage throughout the day on Tuesday showing its reporters roaming through the ruins of the newly reconquered neighborhoods, trumpeting the government’s victory as they climbed over piles of rubble, peered into abandoned homes and sifted through the remains of rebel defenses. There was no other sign of life in the empty streets.

About half of the city was controlled by government forces prior to the major offensive to retake the city began in July. Many civilians have been killed by shelling from opposition fighters who fire randomly into these parts of the city.

Opposition fighters have contributed to the siege over the years by controlling the major highways into the city, especially the two roads leading west towards Turkey and other major cities to the southwest. The opposition-controlled these strategic highways until July 2016 when the Syrian Army was able to make enough gains on the ground to re-open the roads. Fighters used the roads to receive weapons and supplies from Turkey.

Aleppo city was the largest hub for distributing fighters, weapons, and supplies to other parts of Syria. Al Mayadeen recently reported on one of the weapons caches found in an East Aleppo basement after the neighborhood was cleared by the Syrian army. The bunker contained GRAD missiles, which are typically fired from a system mounted on a truck.

There were other military grade weapons found, with English language labels, and enough of each to mean the weapons could have only been shipped in by truck. If the opposition fighters could receive so many weapons and supplies into Aleppo from Turkey, why could the Syrian Army somehow stop critical food and medical supplies as U.S. officials claim?

2. The Syrian Army is blocking humanitarian aid to Aleppo, creating the crisis

U.S. officials blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for ordering the army to block aid delivery and remove medical supplies from shipments that do come in. They ignore any role the terrorists groups play in that, as reported in September.

TELEGRAPH
A convoy of 20 UN trucks carrying enough aid for 40,000 people is languishing at the Turkish border as diplomats try to secure agreement from both rebels and regime forces to allow the vehicles through.

“Some parties to the conflict are trying to use this for political gain,” said David Swanson, a UN spokesman. “The challenge for us is ensuring that all parties to the conflict are on the same page. If one element of the chain is not there we cannot proceed.”

The UN would not say if the hold was up was being caused by the Assad regime or its rebel opponents but at least part of the problem appeared to be inside east Aleppo itself.

Activists there said they intended to reject the UN aid in protest at the ceasefire agreement which was brokered between the US and Russia without input from the Syrian opposition.

Video from Aleppo showed a large demonstration against the UN had gathered at Castello Road, the key supply route that the aid convoy would have to travel down.

At least some of the demonstrators were waving the black flags of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), an al-Qaeda linked jihadist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.

3. The rebels in East Aleppo are ordinary Syrians who are fighting a civil war against government abuse

While it is unclear how many civilians remained in Aleppo, what is known is that most of the fighters are from the official Al Qaeda group in Syria called Al Nusra, and other groups that have formed public alliances with them. There have been dozens of groups under different names that the United States has called “moderate” opposition, however, many of them were either in alliance with or commanded by Al Nusra itself.

Colonel Steve Warren, spokesperson for the U.S. coalition against Islamic State, said “it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” in April 2016 prior to the Aleppo offensive.

In 2012, as the intensity of the war grew, thousands of foreign jihadists came to the city and helped take over neighborhoods in the east. Most of these fighters had no ties to Syria before the war and were given support and weapons by wealthy terror financiers from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Qatari foreign minister just pledged to continue sending weapons and assistance to these groups regardless of what Western allies do.

The war crimes committed and infighting with “moderates” became so bad that the U.S. government and the United Nations was forced to declare them terrorists after regional news reporting led the Washington Post to write that Al Nusra was the most effective and influential group on the battlefield. Al Nusra was then declared a terrorist organization by the U.S., other western countries and the United Nations. That was after almost a year of clandestine U.S. support as part of opposition groups.

The November 2012 article describes Al Nusra when they were still part of the popular term “Free Syrian Army” which was used by the U.S. to describe a moderate opposition who should not be bombed.

WASHINGTON POST
The Jabhat group now has somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to officials of an non-governmental organization that represents the more moderate wing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They say that the al-Qaeda affiliate now accounts for 7.5 percent to 9 percent of the Free Syrian Army’s total fighters, up sharply from an estimated 3 percent three months ago and 1 percent at the beginning of the year.

The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force. “From the reports we get from the doctors, most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line,” said a message sent today to the State Department by the moderate Free Syrian Army representatives, warning of the extremists’ rise.
—–
“In some areas, other extreme groups are merging with [Jabhat] al-Nusra, in others many are leaving it because they did not fulfill promises of support,” notes one report sent to the State Department.

In the chaos of the Syrian battlefield, smaller battalions drawn from neighborhoods or small towns are combining forces with larger groups to form brigades, many of them led by extremists. “This means more [mergers] of extreme groups within Jabhat al-Nusra as it becomes more and more franchised,” the report explains. “Their risk is paying off. They are on a high [rate] of growth.”

After this occurred, many groups began to merge and change their names, however, the majority of what became the Free Syrian Army has been proven to be made up of extremist groups who would otherwise be declared terrorists. The largest “moderate” groups in Aleppo, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and Nour Din al-Zinki have been prevented by the United States from being declared terrorists at the United Nations. The U.S. fought with Russia for months to keep these groups off the list of terrorist groups in Syria. This was a consistent point of failure in Syria peace negotiations. As a result, the groups continued to receive protection from America by including the groups in the Syrian ceasefire.

Ahrar al-Sham was known to consistently have over 20,000 fighters, despite frequent losses.

Jaysh al-Islam grew to 25,000 fighters by some recent estimates. Jaysh al-Islam integrated over 100 smaller groups, and led Syria’s largest remaining alliance, Fatah Halab as they renamed themselves in Aleppo. This alliance also included Ahrar al-Sham and Nour Din al-Zinki.

U.S. and Russian officials have been arguing over whether these groups should be targeted for bombing since they fight in the same areas as Al Nusra. The U.S. has claimed since February 2016 that it would persuade moderate groups to separate from Al Nusra, but it never happened despite the U.S. being in daily contact with them.

In response to this continued trend, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced Stop Arming Terrorists Act last week to ban funding of terrorists groups, whether direct or indirect.

HOUSE.GOV
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i]

“The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.

4. Rebels in East Aleppo are not terrorists. They are “moderate” and do not commit war crimes.

The most unbalanced part of Western news reporting on Aleppo is the deliberate effort to not report the war crimes committed by opposition groups, while confirming unverifiable claims about atrocities by the Syrian Army or from Russian airstrikes. Reporters have brought up this concern multiple times with U.S. officials and specifically when making the claim that Russian airstrikes hit hospitals in Syria but refusing to give evidence, twice.

In April 2016, Jaysh al-Islam admitted to using chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo. They have consistently used civilians as human shields, sometimes locking them in metal cages on the back of trucks.

The US also defended Ahrar al-Sham after they recently massacred an unknown number of people and kidnapped over 100 from the small village of Zaara in May 2016. State Department officials were confronted about specifically on May 24 with one reporter asking “Is this a yellow card? How many villages do they have to massacre before they become bad guys?” in relation to removing them from the protection of being declared a moderate group.

Ahrar al-Sham has was singled out for war crimes by Amnesty International just before the Zaara massacre. The Amnesty report also condemned the group for torture, kidnapping, and rape as well as using chemical weapons on multiple occasions.

Nour Din al-Zinki became most well known for beheading a sick young Palestinian boy on video which went viral on social media. U.S. State Department officials refused to condemn the group and still allowed them protection under Syrian ceasefire agreements.

The United Nations admitted last week that they received reports of opposition fighters shooting at civilians trying to leave East Aleppo, despite months of ignoring these claims. The U.S. State Department has also declined to admit the groups they call moderate have been involved in shooting at civilians.

INDEPENDENT
Take the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. After last week running through its usual – and perfectly understandable – fears for the civilian population of eastern Aleppo and their medical workers, and for civilians subject to government reprisals and for “hundreds of men” who may have gone missing after crossing the frontlines, the UN suddenly expressed other concerns.

“During the last two weeks, Fatah al-Sham Front [in other words, al-Qaeda] and the Abu Amara Battalion are alleged to have abducted and killed an unknown number of civilians who requested the armed groups to leave their neighbourhoods, to spare the lives of civilians…,” it stated.

“We have also received reports that between 30 November and 1 December, armed opposition groups fired on civilians attempting to leave.” Furthermore, “indiscriminate attacks” had been conducted on heavily civilian areas of government-held western as well as ‘rebel’ eastern Aleppo.

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi also confirmed that terrorists had turned state-run hospitals into command centers in a heated argument on the UK’s Channel 4 News.

The terrorists even had their own prisons and torture centers.

RUPTLY
Soldiers showed what appears to be militant flags, graffiti, and machine tools for making munitions, and even cells and alleged means for torturing captives.

SOT, Muhammad Hamud, Soldier, Syrian Arab Army (Arabic): “We released nearly 15 civilians. That was in a male prison. In Qadi Askar there was another prison which was a joint male and female prison. It was in the headquarters of the Sharia centre.”

5. People are unhappy the Syrian Army has taken over the city again

There is a reason the leader of the Syrian Kurds said it “would be a disaster for everyone” if the Assad government were to fall to the extremist opposition. The alternative to Aleppo city being controlled by Al Nusra, or worse, extremists could fight for control of it and further divide the region.

Western news reports described the victory in different degrees of terror, saying the people of the city were in shock at the army’s victory, ignoring the thousands of people celebrating in Aleppo areas controlled by the government. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby made the most controversial of the statements saying that he had not seen “any dancing in the streets” as celebrations were ongoing.

“I’ve been many times to Homs, to Maaloula, to Latakia and Tartus [in Syria] and again, Aleppo, four times. And people’s support of their government is absolutely true. Whatever you hear in the corporate media is completely opposite,” Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett described at a United Nations press event.

“And, on that note, what you hear in the corporate media, and I will name them – BBC, Guardian, the New York Times etc. – on Aleppo is also the opposite of reality,” she added.

6. Desperate pleas for help on social media by local Syrians show just how bad the situation is in East Aleppo

Western news media marketed a coordinated campaign of videos claiming to be average Syrian citizens pleading for international action to intervene in the Syrian war as the battle of Aleppo came to an end. A combination of children, social media activists and claimed independent journalists have been featured as genuine accounts from East Aleppo, however, these transmissions have been questioned.

THE FREE THOUGHT PROJECT
But there is one major problem with these well-articulated video pleas: these aren’t simple civilians of Aleppo, but bloggers and filmmakers – who have played active roles in supporting the regime change operation – who are now magically being given prime time slots for worldwide TV coverage. Interestingly, Aleppo has no cell service or electricity, so how these “civilian” videos are being recorded/disseminated is also an open question, which implies less than organic means.

According to Anissa Naouai, host of RT’s ‘In the Now’, a quick search of the Internet reveals the identities of these “civilians.”

A 7-year-old girl named Bana Alabed has become a known Twitter personality during recent months for her videos which are said to be recorded in Aleppo. Confirmed Syrian activist Maytham Al Ashkar contacted the account for Bana on November 27, offering to evacuate her family from eastern Aleppo. According to screenshots of conversations, someone who identified herself as Bana’s mother responded about a month later. The responses received led him to believe the account was fake and being operated by someone who preferred speaking in English instead of Arabic.

SPUTNIK
Bana’s account, designated by Twitter as “verified”, was set up three months ago, and has since gathered over 310,000 followers. The tweets, written by both Bana and her mother, Fatemah, who says she taught her daughter to speak English, depict life under siege in east Aleppo.

Many have called the authenticity of the account into question, pointing to videos where Bana appears to be reading from a prompt. It is also unclear whether Bana’s posts are genuine, since any user, anywhere in the world can post from the account, as long as they have the password.

Pro-government activist Maytham Al Ashkar is originally from Al-Zahraa in northern Syria, currently in Beirut, but often travelling to Damascus and Aleppo. He offered to help evacuate Bana and her family, contacting Bana’s Twitter account on November 27.

“This person was contacted by Bana, who told him she wanted my offer. Once he got my approval, Bana (the account) contacted me directly,” Maytham explains.

“When I got contacted by Bana’s account, I started to chat in Arabic since we are all Syrians and Arabic is our mother tongue. However, it was obvious that the person behind the account preferred English as a language of communication.”

Another problem has been the spread of false images represented as civilian casualties in Aleppo. One fake image of Aleppo violence was actually a screenshot from a 2014 music video.

7. The Syrian Army is now butchering people, executing civilians in the streets

If United States officials are watching the battle of Aleppo so closely, why has it not released any evidence of civilian casualties being caused by Syrian and Russian airstrikes? No satellite imagery, no pictures or video of large-scale casualties, no documentation of the alleged hundreds of bodies in the streets as claimed by news media like the New York Times. In the same article, the New York Times was forced to show pictures of the thousands of civilians being escorted to safety by the Syrian Army. Many pictures showed soldiers helping civilians, even carrying them when needed.

There have been genuine images from hospitals showing innocent civilians wounded in the fighting or people rescued from the rubble of buildings, but where are the images showing the mass casualty events described?

BBC
Syrian pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo have been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says. The UN’s human rights office said streets were full of bodies.

Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency cited a doctor as saying a building housing as many as 100 unaccompanied children was under heavy attack.

As noted earlier, the only consistent report of civilian deaths last week was the claim that 82 people were executed by Syrian government forces. The claim was reported as verified fact by most of Western news media, including ReutersBBCNew York Times.

The common source for these claims is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which sounds like an independent and official source, but is an unaccountable organization made up of sources on the ground who are kept private.

NEW YORK TIMES
Military analysts in Washington follow its body counts of Syrian and rebel soldiers to gauge the course of the war. The United Nations and human rights organizations scour its descriptions of civilian killings for evidence in possible war crimes trials. Major news organizations, including this one, cite its casualty figures.

Yet, despite its central role in the savage civil war, the grandly named Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is virtually a one-man band. Its founder, Rami Abdul Rahman, 42, who fled Syria 13 years ago, operates out of a semidetached red-brick house on an ordinary residential street in this drab industrial city [Coventry, England].

All sides in the conflict accuse him of bias, and even he acknowledges that the truth can be elusive on Syria’s tangled and bitter battlefields. That, he says, is what prompts him to keep a tight leash on his operation.

He does not work alone. Four men inside Syria help to report and collate information from more than 230 activists on the ground, a network rooted in Mr. Abdul Rahman’s youth, when he organized clandestine political protests. But he signs off on every important update. A fifth man translates the Arabic updates into English for the organization’s Facebook page.

8. The Syrian Army prevents civilians from leaving

It is reported that many civilians feared leaving East Aleppo for government-controlled areas because they might be tortured or killed. These reports cannot be verified and will not be trivialized here, however Russian officials noted that more than 100,000 civilians had been evacuated since operations began in November.

Wednesday, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a statement confirming it received reports that the opposition was preventing civilians from leaving, holding them hostage as human shields.

UNITED NATIONS
Alongside a pattern of indiscriminate attacks, the Commission has further received allegations of opposition groups, including the terrorist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Ahrar al-Sham preventing civilians from leaving as well as opposition fighters embedding themselves within the civilian population, thus heightening the risk to civilians of being killed or injured.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been seen on video leaving the areas of battle, being received by Syrian and Russian soldiers. Russia announced it distributed 35 tons of humanitarian aid this week in eastern Aleppo to civilians in need.

9. The “Regime” is slaughtering the opposition

In a show of restraint, Syrian government forces honored an agreement to allow militants in east Aleppo to evacuate the city with some of their light weapons. The deal was reached earlier this week between Turkey and Russia, without the influence of the United States. The evacuation of militants from east Aleppo has begun as dozens of buses were seen lined up on major roads beginning Wednesday.

RUSSIA TODAY
Nearly 3,500 militants from eastern Aleppo have surrendered to the Syrian government, while thousands have seized the chance to leave through special corridors with light weapons. The evacuation was partly halted on Friday after militants tried to leave the city with heavy weapons, which is not permitted under the agreement allowing them to exit eastern Aleppo.

It is also reported that opposition groups fired artillery shells at one of the evacuation routes, causing the process to be delayed.

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi has been one of the loudest supporters for the Syrian Army clearing the city of terrorists.

10. The Syrian Army is purposely destroying civilian infrastructure

One favorite propaganda lie told by U.S. officials when justifying war is that the dictator’s army is destroying public resources to hurt the civilian population.

As it relates to Aleppo, U.S. officials and allies have said that the Syrian government forces have purposely destroyed drinking water supplies to the city in an effort to hurt opposition fighters and the civilians supporting them.

However, in 2014, Al Nusra sabotaged the entire city’s water system while trying to target government-controlled areas. The Syrian Army recently restored the same water plant destroyed in this attack.

INDEPENDENT – MAY 12 2014
In a botched attempt to stop drinking water reaching government-held districts of Aleppo, rebels managed to cut off water supplies to large parts of the city in northern Syria including their own strongholds. Women and children are being forced to queue up with cooking pots, kettles and plastic bottles to get water from the fountains of mosques and wells that may be contaminated.

The water shortage started 10 days ago when the rebels, who control the two main pumping stations, tried to keep water flowing to their areas in east Aleppo, but stop it reaching the government-held west of the city. Describing the action as “a crime”, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that the al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel groups were responsible for the water shortage.

A member of the Aleppo Water Department told the Beirut paper al-Akhbar that the Sharia Authority, which unites the rebel movements, controls a crucial pumping station in the Suleiman al-Halabi region. He said that there is a “danger of insurgents pumping water only to the neighbourhoods that they control as it might lead to the collapse of the integrated water system”.

 

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