The Cave, Lying Sadists, and Rabid Dogs of War

February 10, 2020 Miri Wood

“The Cave” is what the people of East Ghouta call the underground prison cells and headquarters of the Syrian opposition of ‘Moderate Terrorists’ Faylaq Rahman.

The Cave was a massive underground headquarters

The Cave ( الكهف )was an underground prison discovered by the Syrian Arab Army after the liberation of East Ghouta from NATO supported al Qaeda — specifically the ‘Faylaq Rahman‘ sect of the malignant sociopaths. As previously with Aleppo, prior to the liberation of East Ghouta the rabid western dogs of war howled to protect the criminally insane occupiers, barked about humanitarian catastrophe, and then promptly became irrevocable amnesiacs (the same madness is currently yelped about the last terrorists of Idlib, who will also soon be permanently forgotten).

“The discovery [of The Cave] was in the town of Zamalka in East Ghouta, the town was cleaned from terrorists by the SAA end of last month March after the main defense trenches and fortifications of the terrorist group collapsed by the swift, surprise and forceful SAA attack from the east.

“Following video clip by SANA shows the former building used by the terrorist group as their main command center and under it was a vast network of tunnels and underground prisons where they detained the kidnapped residents of East Ghouta and tortured them.”

The filthy scum sadists behind the scenes — that apocryphal, nebulous, gang known as deep stateMilitary Industrial Complex, financier global oligarchy – has turned The Cave into another in a long series of never-ending fraudementaries against the Syrian Arab Republic. Such an Orwellian inversion of reality is possible due to the pandemic success of Operation Mockingbird and NATO war whores hijacking virtually all major media.

Hollywood has been primarily a 5th column operation since not long after the talkies began; NATO stenographers have taken to utilizing its techniques of enchantment to brainwash huge segments of the population into alignment with demons and criminal liars.

The sanctimonious inner Hollywood elite nominated two fetid anti-Syrian dramatization of the news high gloss propaganda videos for tonight’s Oscars, and NATO orchestrated MSM and faux liberal media have been breathlessly reporting on the two nominees. For Sama is one of the most manipulative operations; some descriptions of it have attempted to feminize war crimes and war prop as to border on salacious pornification.

If Rep. Waltz wanted to ‘capture the female experience of war’ [creepy, to say the least], why did he show no interest in the Syrian women who were kidnapped by FSA & al Jazeera?
The UK ad was even pervier, in addition to breaching the UN Charter which prohibits a member state from pimping propaganda against another member state.

NATO media, NATO diplomats, and NATO politicians continue to pretend they do not know of the friendship of Sama’s father with the savages who kidnapped 12 year old Abdullah Issa from a hospital, and tormented him before cutting off his head with a kitchen knife, which they videoed and proudly uploaded to the internet.

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Abdullah Issa, 12 year old Syrian-Palestinian, kidnapped from hospital, moments before his heinous beheading with a kitchen knife.
omran
afp

The criminal hijacking of The Cave, though, remains one of the most sadistically cynical propaganda operations, to date, and so we shall expose the lies of the criminal liars, quickly.

The fraudumentary was shamelessly produced by National Geographic. The attempted final solution against Syria has been a financial boon to all things in need of economic transfusion. NGO’s receive tax exemption status in return for puking up lies created by the State Department, lies which are then disseminated through the warmongering media. No vetting of facts is required when there is money to be made. One only need to say she is a doctor who hates Syria, to be taken at her word; one only need to say he was tortured, and hates Syria, to be taken at his word.

the cave
All things corrupt consider themselves entitled to a taste of Syrian blood.

The front men for the Hollywood movie propaganda are an alleged torture victim cum propaganda director, and an alleged physician cum stay-at-home wife. Neither lives in Syria. Both had massive complaints to the Los Angeles Times on the travesty involving their difficulties in being granted temporary visas to attend tonight’s awards.

The two propagandist story-tellers whined about the ‘Trump travel ban.’

Feras Fayyad is the ‘director’ of the stolen, lying version of The Cave. He lives in Copenhagen and wailed about jet lag, and not enough time to pimp the fraudumentary among the voters. ‘Doctor’ Amani Ballour — who lives in Turkey where she does not practice medicine, since the liberation of East Ghouta was made to feel bad that Geographic and SAMS had to intervene to help her get her visa.

Fayyad is so barely literate in English, that most media have to do re-writes when they interview him.

Like all the others claiming massive, 37,000 hours daily, for 67 years torture status, Pretty Boy Fayyad shows no signs of it. He is fully mobile, maintains full symmetry, has a fabulous head of hair, and his pretty face is unscathed — though the Times reported some scars on his lips (hot coffee? Putting in the wrong end of a lit cigarette?).

Someone surely flunked Torture 101.
How he ‘directed’ ‘The Cave’ fabrication remains a mystery, as he wasn’t there.

The Times interview/report is almost incomprehensible. Ballour — who ‘fled’ — is quoting saying, “A lot of doctors fled, and I don’t understand that.”

The Times incoherently writes that “Ballour began working at the Cave in 2013, shortly after completing general medical studies at the University of Damascus. She was in the midst of her pediatric residency when the war began but abandoned her studies to focus on the hidden hospital,” despite the fact that graduating medical school does not include licensure, and no one out of med school is equipped to run a hospital.

Given that this journal went through the standard litany of lies about hospitals that do not exist, being consistently bombed, in Syria — while never mentioning the actual hospitals that have been bombed, one into dust — the inference is disquieting.

Despite being barely verbal in English, the tired, fake tortured has been provided with a list of appropriate mood-enhancing trigger words for the Mockingbird public: [fake] feminism, [fake] sexism, [fake] chemical attacks.

Fayyad lied that Ballour was the first female manager of a hospital in Syria — unless he meant the first fake female manager of a fake hospital.

The Oscar nominee fabricator probably does not know that Syria’s Vice President is a woman and that President al Assad’s Chief Advisor is a woman, and that both Vice President Najah al Attar and Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban hold doctorate degrees.

This is Dr. Rana Omran. She is the Director of Ophthalmology Hospital in the Ibn al Nafis Medical Complex in Damascus.

Dr. Omran led her hospital’s surgical team in its first artificial corneal transplant in 2018. The surgery was successful and full sight was returned to her patient.

The trailer for the sadistically stolen The Cave should not be ‘inspirational’ to those who are not lunatics. What sane persons want unlicensed, fake hospitals being illegally run by unlicensed ‘surgeons’ in their own cities, states, countries?

Who is this man? Could anyone imagine this as being humorous?

Is this a sadistic joke, or is this an unlicensed Mengele?

The sadistic theft is extended to hijacking something from Syria News:

What fantastic coincidence that the trailer for The Cave just happens to include Beethoven in the illicit operating room, conducted by Japan’s Maestro Yutaka Sado!

Upon Syria’s announcement of the liberation of eastern Aleppo, 14 December 2016, Syria News posted a short congratulation titled Ode to Joy: Syrians Celebrate the Liberation of Aleppo. It included a video clip of the street celebrations, several photographs, the simple words, Aleppo, Syria’s second capital, has been liberated. Syria, Mother of Civilization, Beethoven applauds you. Schiller applauds you. Humanity applauds you. It also contained the full video of Maestro Sado conducting 10,000 singing the 4th Movement of the 9th Symphony.

We have some very good news: Hollywood may have taken a hiatus from acting as NATO’s Public Relations firm. American Factory took the Oscar.

The interlopers inspired by The Cave of al Qaeda terrorists to fabricate another demonization of Syria, based on the real suffering of those forced to endure it, have not been rewarded, this time.

Syrian Artists Bring Sublime Light to Terrorist Tunnels

syrian-artists-tunnel

President & First Lady Visit Newly Illuminated Death Tunnel

MEDIA HAVE BEEN SPREADING PROPAGANDA AGAINST SYRIA FOR YEARS – JOURNALIST

Dec 31, 2019, RT America:

“Fallout continues from recent Wikileaks revelations, which confirmed that the OPCW had been pressured to alter its report to cover up evidence about the alleged April 2018 chemical attack in Douma, Syria. Investigative journalist and on-the-ground reporter Eva Bartlett joins In Question to discuss.”

*

I thank Robert Thorpe for his summary of the interview:

“Steadfast Canadian journalist Eva Karene Bartlett, who has spent months on the ground in many parts of Syria since 2014, discusses Western propaganda designed to mislead people about Syria, demonize the nation in support of Western efforts to overthrow its sovereign government, and the defacto complicity in terrorism of the US, British, Canadian and other NATO governments.

She raises the issue of the recent resignation of Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad’s from the publication over the censorship of his coverage of recent leaked internal OPCW documents which show that the senior management of UN sponsored organization produced fraudulent reporting of the non-existent alleged gas attack (a White Helmet false flag) at Douma used to justify US, French and British missile attacks on Syria.

Related/Mentioned Links:

WESTERN LEADERS, SCREW YOUR ‘SANCTIONS TARGET THE REGIME’ BLATHER: SANCTIONS KILL PEOPLE

December 16, 2019, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

The US has a favourite tool for bullying non-compliant nations: sanctions. Sanctions inflict considerable suffering, even death, on ordinary people in targeted nations. Yet those defiant nations persist and resist.

A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proposing a new oil-for-food scheme, this time in Venezuela, surprisingly acknowledges that sanctions “can also end up harming the people that they intend to protect.”

Okay, first off, we know there is no intention of “protecting” civilians in any of the countless countries targeted by Western sanctions. Do Western talking heads really think we’ve forgotten the half-a-million dead Iraqi children, thanks to US sanctions?

Yet, ask a Western leader about crippling sanctions placed on nations which don’t bow to Imperial demands and you’ll be met with some nonsensical explanation that sanctions only target ‘regimes’ and ‘terrorists,’ not the people.

I’ve lived in, spent considerable time in, or visited areas under sanctions and siege, and I’ve seen first hand how sanctions are a form of terrorism, choking civilians, depriving them of basic and urgent medical care, food, employment, and travel entitlements that many of us in Western nations take for granted.

When I was in Syria last October, a man told me his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but because of the sanctions he couldn’t get her the conventional treatments most in the West would avail of.

In 2016, in Aleppo, before it was liberated of al-Qaeda and co, Dr. Nabil Antaki told me how –because of the sanctions– it had taken him well over a year to get a simple part for his gastroenterology practise.

In 2015, visiting Damascus’ University Hospital, where bed after bed was occupied by a child maimed by terrorists’ shelling (from Ghouta), a nurse told me:

We have so many difficulties to ensure that we have antibiotics, specialized medicines, maintenance of the equipment… Because of the sanctions, many parts are not available, we have difficulties obtaining them.

Visiting a prosthetic limbs factory in Damascus in 2016, I was told that, due to the sanctions, smart technology and 3D scanners –used to determine the exact location where a limb should be fixed– were not available. Considering the over eight years of war and terrorism in Syria, there are untold numbers of civilians and soldiers in need of this technology to simply get a prosthetic limb fixed so they can get on with their lives. But no, America’s concern for the Syrian people means that this, too, is near impossible.

In 2018, Syria’s minister of health told me Syria had formerly been dubbed by the World Health Organization a “pioneer state” in providing health care.

“Syria had 60 pharmaceutical factories and was exporting medicine to 58 countries. Now, 16 of these factories are out of service. Terrorists partially or fully destroyed 46 hospitals and 620 medical centres.”

I asked the minister about the complex in Barzeh, targeted with missile strikes by the US and allies in April 2018. Turns out it was part of the Ministry of Health, and manufactured cancer treatment medications, as well as antidotes for snake or scorpion bites/stings, the antidote also serving as a basic material in the manufacture of many medicines.

[READ: Caught in a lie, US & allies bomb Syria the night before international inspectors arrive ]

Last year, Syrian-American doctor Hussam al-Samman told me about his efforts to send to Syria chemotherapy medications for cancer patients in remission. He jumped through various hoops of America’s unforgiving bureaucracy, to no avail. It was never possible in the first place.

“We managed to get a meeting in the White House. We met Rob Malley, a top-notch assistant or adviser of Obama at that time. I asked them: ‘How in the world could your heart let you block chemotherapy from going to people with cancer in Syria?’They said: ‘We will not allow Bashar al-Assad to have anything that will make people love him. We will not support anything that will help Bashar al-Assad look good’.”

Fast forward to the present: in spite of the sanctions, or precisely because of the sanctions, Syria recently opened its first anti-cancer drugs factory. President Assad is, again, looking rather good to Syrians.

UN expert: Sanctions on Venezuela “a form of terrorism”

Alfred de Zayas, the human rights lawyer and former UN official, aptly calls sanctions a form of terrorism, “because they invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.

Earlier this year, The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated 40,000 deaths had occurred due to sanctions in 2017-2018.

While in Venezuela in March this year, I spoke with people from poor communities about the effects of sanctions. Most I met were very well aware of the US economic war against their country, and rallied alongside their government.[READ: US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention][READ: Venezuela isn’t Syria… but America’s war tactics are the same ]

One woman told me:

“If you don’t have water, don’t have electricity, the basics, how would you feel, as a mother? This makes some of the population, that doesn’t understand about the sanctions, blame the government.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, said during that visit:

“We told [American diplomat and Trump envoy] Mr Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind-of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long-term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”Indeed, that collapse would come about precisely due to the immoral US sanctions against the Venezuelan people.

North Korean Youth: Sanction the USA

After visiting Korea’s north in August 2017, in a photo essay I noted:

“The criminal sanctions against the North, enforced since 1950, making even more difficult the efforts to rebuild following decimation. The sanctions are against the people, affecting all sectors of life.”[READ: Photo-Report: The North Korea Neither Trump Nor Western Media Wants The World To See]And although most I met there were proud of their country’s achievements in spite of the sanctions, they were also vocal about the injustice of being bombed to near decimation and then sanctioned.

In a Pyongyang Middle School, to my questions about the sanctions, a girl replied:

The sanctions are not fair, our people have done nothing wrong to the USA.

Another boy spoke of the silence around America’s use of nuclear bombs on civilians:

Why do people all over the world give us sanctions? Why can’t we put sanctions on the US?

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Dr. Kim Un-Song: “The sanctions are inhumane and against human rights.” © Eva Bartlett

At the Okryu Children’s Hospital, Doctor Kim Un-Song said: “As a mother, I feel extremely angry at the sanctions against the DPRK, even blocking medicine and instruments for children. This is inhumane and against human rights.

As with Syria, sanctions on the DPRK prevent further entry to Korea of hospital machinery, as well as replacement parts.

Defying the sanctions

In spite of draconian sanctions, Syria, the DPRK and Venezuela continue to resist. After fighting international terrorism since 2011, Syria is rebuilding in liberated areas. That process could proceed more quickly were sanctions lifted, making it easier for companies outside of Syria to invest. 

But Syria is managing, with its allies’ support, including that of North Korea, and due to the steadfastness of the heroic Syrian people, and its leadership. 

REB

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/SyriaRebuilt/status/1205149675747205120

Likewise, Venezuela and North Korea, facing America’s economic war and endless propagandistic rhetoric, continue to resist.

jorge

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/jaarreaza/status/1204209014625783810

In each of these countries, I’ve met well-informed people who are fighting the sadism of the sanctions, and who are determined to remain free of US tyranny.


Syria News: Terror Attacks, Call for OPCW Transparency

 

Syria Jarabulus car explosion Turkey terrorists in-fighting

Western colonial media currently wallows in the misery its politicians have brought to its populations while ignoring the misery it has brought to Syria. On the heels of British media erupting in righteous concern over the fate of ISIS terrorists in Syria, came the ISIS terror attack on London Bridge, complete with every imaginable quirks, including heroes with fire extinguishers and narwhal tusks, heroes in the form of a convicted murderer and a man walking from the scene carrying a clean knife.

Meanwhile, in Syria another car bomb was remotely detonated in downtown Ayn al-Arous south of Tal Abyad in Raqqa northern countryside, 30 November. The terrorist perpetrators are part of Erdogan’s mercenary gangs. SANA has reported no details, simply that at least 13 persons were killed or injured in the massive explosion.

Two children, ages 8 and 9, were murdered by a landmine while grazing sheep in the farmland of Hosh Nasri village in the Douma area of Eastern Ghouta. Landmines left behind — and frequently buried in farmland — by fleeing terrorists remains an ongoing problem. Despite an MoU signed by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) signed in July 2018, this group’s best work involves Agnes Marcaillou keeping impressive stats on death and dismemberment, reported to the Security Council on a somewhat regular basis.

Speaking of Douma, H.E. Bassam Sabbagh addressed the 24th conference of the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague, 29 November and voiced his government’s concern over the recent leaked “contents of correspondences of a member of the fact finding mission to the Office of the Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)…which unveil that the OPCW report misrepresented some of the facts on the alleged Douma chemical attack in Damascus countryside” 7 April 2018, which “was used as a pretext for the United States, France and Britain to launch their tripartite military aggression” against the Syrian Arab Republic.

Envoy Sabbagh called for transparency, and noted that the three countries are currently trying to keep a blackout on the leaked report.

To explain in non-diplomatic protocol, the OPCW — corrupt since its ejection of Jose Bustani, per the demand of Dick Cheney via neocon John Bolton — lied in its report on the Douma chemical hoax, in order to allow the war criminal states of the US, UK, and France to maintain their cover story for their illicit, breach of international law, bombing of Syria, based on the lies of al Qaeda terrorists who occupied Douma at that time.

One need only have looked at the video and still photographs provided by the terrorists, dutifully reported by transatlantic NATO stenographer journalists, to know that there were no chemical weapons used, that the human garbage committed a massacre of mostly women and children, so that the criminal tripartite aggressors would bomb Syria, as they had bombed Syria one year earlier, for al Qaeda occupiers of Khan Sheikhoun.

One might also note the length of time between the investigations in Khan Sheikhoun and Douma, for the OPCW findings and also that investigators were too afraid of the various factions of al Qaeda in Khan Sheikhoun to enter, instead accepting fake evidence from the terrorists, and investigators on the ground in Douma, under the protection of the Syrian Arab Army.

Syria has begun participation in the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), in Rome, to discuss means of combating terrorism in the region. This engagement may mean a breakthrough in return of normalized diplomatic relations between the countries; in February 2018, General Ali Mamlouk visited Rome to discuss security with top Italian officials, but this visit was not publicly acknowledged, by Italy.

SANA has announced a medical breakthrough by the neurosurgery team of the Ibn al-Nafis Hospital in Damascus, in using artificial bone created with 3D printing technology, to expand the cranium size of a patient. This was the first operation of this kind in the SAR.

Also on 30 November are reports of a Jarabulus car bomb detonation, along with its driver, euphemistically referred to as a “militant.” Jarabulus, Syria, has been under the occupation of Caliph wannabe Erdogan thugs, since late 2016.

Syria Jarabulus Turkey terrorists warlords fighting over bounties car bomb explosion
Erdogan’s terrorists killing each other in Jarabulus, Syria.

Erdogan’s warlords are fighting over bounties.

May they continue.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

— Miri Wood

A SYRIAN LEADER TELLS HIS COUNTRY’S STORY: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAA GENERAL HASSAN HASSAN

In Gaza

20190620_203559

Eva Bartlett sits down for an exclusive interview with the head of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan.

August 5, 2019, Mint Press News

For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.

For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria’s leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.

From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called “unarmed protesters” and later by the “Free Syrian Army.” This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a “peaceful revolution” was underway.

Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure.

To give a voice to the often ignored “other side” — those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 —  Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan’s shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves — the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett’s interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.

 

Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media’s reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon — for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels — and the events in Syria in general.

General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas — especially the fatwas — have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization,…everything.

President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.

The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What “army” and what “freedom” are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.

The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad’s Brigades or Assad’s Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.

I’ll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.

They used the term “defection.” There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term “defection” is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.

In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa’i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.

Gangs would stop civilian or military vehicles on highways, hold soldiers hostages, film them and force them at gunpoint to declare that they had defected [from the army].

I’ll give an example available from the internet of their lies regarding the term the Free Syrian Army. Anyone can check the Free Syrian Army term through Google. We type Abu Saqr al-Asadi — right here, I have typed Abu Saqr al-Souri [the Syrian]. We now find [the result] “face to face with the fighter Abu Saqr al-Asadi who ate the heart of a soldier.” (Abu Saqr is also transliterated as Abu Sakkar, as per the BBC article referred to by General Hassan).

That was in 2013 when he was filmed cutting into the chest of the soldier and eating his heart. It is here on Google from the BBC Arabic website. This is not a Syrian media outlet. It is a Western outlet. It is not a pleasant sight to watch him chewing the soldier’s heart.

Abu Saqr al-Asadi was a fighter in the Al-Farouq Brigades, which was an armed rebel organization formed by the Free Syrian Army. When he died he was a member of the Nusra Front. So, he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, used to be with the Farouq Brigades, and then joined the Nusra Front.

I could speak for hours about the issue of lexicon. For instance, they talked about what is called the armed opposition. How could opposition be armed?! Opposition is a political term. Opposition is a political party that did not win elections. Such a party plays the role of opposition in the parliament. These militant groups want to govern the country, the people and everything by armed force. Does this sound normal? Never was there a term called “armed opposition,” except when they spoke about these terrorist gangs.

 

EB | So in the article you’ve just shown, the English version, the BBC did not report it as an act of carnage. They humanized Abu Saqr and asked him what drove him to do such a desperate act?

GH | This is the media war. Either they say he is violent or they say he is an angel; hasn’t he demonstrated how he cut out an organ and ate a piece of it? When the BBC describes a man who ate the heart of a dead soldier as a peaceful man, how then would they describe beasts?

 

EB | Regarding events in Syria in 2011, both Western and Gulf media called it a peaceful unarmed uprising for many months, even for up to a year. Do you have an example of attacks by what the West called unarmed protesters against the Syrian army, police or security forces in 2011?

GH | In 2011 they said the reason behind the first spark was that the army, or another security body, pulled out the nails of some children in Dara`a. Over the past eight years, it has become clear that all of the armed groups are equipped with video cameras and live-streaming devices. Can any of them provide us with a video of one child whose nails were pulled out? Where are these children? Why couldn’t the media that fabricated such lies film the pulled-out nails?

Let’s go back to the peaceful uprising. On April 10, 2011, less than a month after the beginning of the so-called uprising, an army convoy transporting soldiers back to their homes was intercepted on the highway from Tartous to Banias. Nine people were martyred: two officers, five warrant officers, and two civilians. They also fired at the ambulances that tried to reach the wounded.

Other examples are the Nawa massacre in Dara`a, the Jisr al-Shoghur massacre, and the Asi River massacre — where they live-streamed the dumping of people into the river. All these massacres were perpetrated before the end of June 2011.

That is the peaceful [Arab] spring the Western and Gulf media talked about.

Are these examples enough, or should I cite more? It’s important to me that Western readers know how many lies and how much deception there has been, especially by the media.

I’ll give you another minor example. Usually, the BBCAl-Jazeera and France 24, etc. would broadcast that an explosion took place in a certain area. However, there was no explosion. But 15 to 30 minutes later an explosion would take place in the same area. It was like a code to the armed groups to carry out the explosion.

I’ll provide you with a more comprehensive example. When the area of Ma`raba [near al-Tal, a suburb of Damascus] was targeted by the Israeli enemy, cameras were focused on the targeted area even before the missiles hit.

 

EB | So, they were ready?

GH | The cameras were aimed at the area where the missiles were supposed to hit. At the moment that the missiles hit the targeted area, members of armed groups began cheering “Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar.” This was documented by their cameras; definitely not Syrian media cameras. At the same time, armed groups in eastern Ghouta attacked Damascus from seven fronts.

As an ordinary person — not as a military figure– I could tell it was a role carried out by three. First, the one who carried out the aggression, and that is the Zionist entity [Israel].

Second, the media outlets that were assigned to broadcast the aggression before it was carried out.  And third, the armed groups who attacked Damascus. Therefore, the cameraman and those militants are substitute recruits of the Israeli enemy. I cannot call them but the substitute army of Israel and the United States.

According to confessions by Israeli and American officials, including previous U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ISIS was made by America. Later on, ISIS was classified as a terrorist organization.

Thus, those terrorists made in the U.S. are the rebels of the peaceful [Arab] spring later circulated in the region by means of the foreign media outlets.

 

EB | According to Israeli media, Israel is fighting terrorism, Muslim extremists. However, there are reports of Israel treating militants or terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Can you please outline Israel’s role in the war on Syria?

GH | Everything that has taken place in Syria and in the region — all the blaze erupting in the region,  under what they falsely called the Arab Spring — serves the interests of Israel. These are not my own conclusions; rather, it is the Israeli media who talk about this. The Israeli prime minister appeared on television when he visited wounded terrorists, injured while fighting the Syrian army, being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is number one.

The other issue is that every time the Syrian Arab Army is making an apparent advance, Israel conducts an aggression [airstrike]. When Israel is unable to achieve its objective, it seeks the help of the United States, just as it did when the U.S. Air Force targeted the Tharda Mountains in Deir ez-Zor as the Syrian army was en route to clear Deir ez-Zor of terrorists.

I hope that you underscore the following statement: Those who sponsor terrorism don’t fight it.Israel is an entity based on both killing and falsehood. When Palestine was already inhabited, they claimed that Palestine was a land without people and wanted to give it to people without a land. Thus, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave what the U.K. didn’t own to those who didn’t deserve it.

In 2019, Trump did the same and gave the Golan to Israel as if Trump inherited it from his own father. Who gave Trump the right to give other people’s property to others? The issue here is that international law needs power to protect it. Unfortunately, the United States is still the superpower of the world and the financial and economic despot of the world. U.S. officials are indifferent to falsehood, humanity, law or human rights. All this means nothing to them.

I would like to remind foreign readers that Iraq was destroyed under the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction. The whole world still recalls Colin Powell when he presented what he called a satellite image as evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. When Powell left office, he admitted to U.S. media outlets that that moment was the darkest in his lifetime. The question is: When did he admit it? How many innocent victims were killed as a result?

How come a sovereign state was occupied without international legitimacy? American officials don’t care about this. Wherever the U.S. has interfered around the world, the result has been more killing, destruction, and suffering and successive U.S. administrations are competing to serve Israel.

 

EB | Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Does the Syrian army use chemical weapons against civilians?

GH |  An official mission came to Syria and demanded that the Syrian government carry out an official investigation. They delayed for years before the mission arrived. And those who came submitted an untruthful report.

Syria signed the agreement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited Syria and checked all places and the existing stockpile [of chemical weapons] was destroyed on a U.S. vessel. Accordingly, The OPCW announced that Syria was chemical weapons-free.ve

The Syrian Government has been accused of using chemical weapons many times, in eastern Ghouta and in other areas. Under this pretext, [th U.S. and its allies] launched their aggression on Syria. Syria affirmed many times through statements by Syrian officials, both before and after the agreement was signed, that Syria does not in any way intend to use chemical weapons and that Syria has not used nor will it use chemical weapons.

After the declaration of this organization [OPCW] that Syria is free from chemical weapons, how could Syria use something that it does not have? Despite evidence that chemical substances and weapons entered into areas under the control of militant groups in Syria through Turkish borders, investigations were not resumed.

There are a number of videos showing how the armed groups were the ones using chemical weapons themselves. Each time Syria was accused of using chemical weapons, the Syrian army was on the verge of finishing a military operation. Is it logical they’d use chemical weapons — which would prevent the declaration of victory?

With regard to their claim of using chemicals in Ghouta, the areas there are interconnected. Those who use chemical weapons cannot protect themselves. When those terrorists used chemicals there, both the civilians and the military were hit, as was the case in Khan al-Asal and elsewhere. This was exposed in the [UN] Security Council by Bashar al-Ja’afari.

Syria does not possess chemical weapons. Syria has never used chemical weapons before. Syria cannot use a chemical weapon for a simple reason, or for two reasons in fact: Ethically, Syria does not believe in using chemicals [weapons]. This is number one. Second, Syria does not own chemical weapons.

 

EB | The Rukban Camp is near the U.S. base of al-Tanf. One question is about the U.S. relationship with ISIS in that area and whether or not America has been fighting ISIS in the area. Also, according to Western media, refugees evacuated from Rukban to centers in Homs, for example, are taken and thrown in prison.

For example, the Canadian Globe & Mail, citing a Qatari-based organization, said that from 2017 to 2019 around 2,000 Syrians who returned to government-controlled areas (in general and not from Rukban specifically) were detained and 784 are still in prison. How would you reply to accusations that people returning home were detained or forced to serve in the Syrian army?

GH | In relation to ISIS and the U.S., I can say that a mother does not eat her own son. ISIS is a U.S. product, according to American confessions. However, America sometimes becomes a cat and eats some of its own kittens when they become a burden.

America uses ISIS, fights with ISIS, not against ISIS. Whenever the role of some armed ISIS fighters comes to an end, the U.S. abandons or gets rid of them. The U.S. does not care whether those members get killed or not.

However, when the U.S. needs them, it sends helicopters to evacuate them, just like what happened when Deir ez-Zor was liberated. American helicopters would land and evacuate ISIS leaders together with their families and fly them somewhere else.

Rukban Camp is within the sight of the Americans in the Tanf base. U.S. surveillance can distinguish a hen from a rooster on a street anywhere in the world. How is it that ISIS members are able to move at the Tanf border without being observed by the U.S. military there? How can the U.S. convince the world that it is fighting ISIS when the latter’s members move freely under U.S. observation?

Four months ago, I was working with the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, General Victor Kopcheshen. He told me that the Russian government received an official reply from the Americans that they would not allow any Syrian or Russian to come close to the 55-kilometer line around Rukban Camp to help evacuate people from the camp.

Less than four months ago we first began evacuating a few hundred [people] from Rukban. Now, the number of people who returned from Rukban Camp has exceeded 15,000 (As of July 31, that number has reached 17,458 according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense). Can anyone provide me with the name of even one person who left Rukban and got detained? These claims are flagrant lies.


Author’s note | 

I asked officials at the UN about the accusation that the Syrian government was imprisoning former residents of Rukban, I detailed their reply in a separate article for MintPress:

“David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that:

‘People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, the receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with smaller small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.’

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

‘We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.’”


GH | I would like to stress a point concerning military service in the army. Several presidential decrees have been issued. Any Syrian citizen [living] abroad who wishes to settle his status and return to Syria can benefit from those decrees, which invalidate any other verdict issued against that Syrian citizen.

These decrees do not nullify a Syrian citizen’s rights nor their duties. Syrian citizens who return to Syria are still Syrian citizens and therefore still have the duties of Syrian citizens. The decrees granted them a grace period of six months to settle their legal status.

For example, a person who lost their official ID, or army service registry or anything, can settle their legal status during this period. It is a normal official procedure to call for duty those who are subject to mandatory or reserve military service. This procedure has been applied to all Syrian citizens in all provinces, not only those who return.

I cannot say just respect the rights and ignore the duties. Everyone is equal before the law. They have to obey what Syrian law states and the majority of them are loyal and doing their duties enthusiastically.

But the people who have their status settled do not have the right to commit a crime. If I had a son living abroad who returned and settled his status, does it give him the right to commit an offense against his neighbors or to kill somebody or commit a crime? The law is the law and must be adhered to.

 

EB | Western media say that Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria is an attempt to occupy Syria and control it. What are the roles of Iran and Russia in Syria?

GH | Before I answer your question, let us decide what logic we’re using. Are we using the logic of international law or the law of the jungle? Who has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people? It is only the Syrian state that has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people. No other side has the right to speak for them. Surely, those who are speaking in the name of the Syrian people do not know the Syrian people. It is really strange that the governments of those who kill the Syrian people are acting as if they were advocates of the Syrian people.

According to international law, it is the right of any state to defend itself when such a country faces hazards endangering its own existence. Such a country has the right to defend its existence and sovereignty by using all means possible. In this respect, this country has the right to rely on its relations with friends and allies as well, no matter whether those allies are Russian, Iranian or any other ally. Neither the U.S., Israel nor the Gulf states have anything to do with this. It is a matter of Syrian sovereignty.

The other thing has to do with the military presence of any country on the territory of another state. Such a presence can be legal in one of the following two cases: when invited by the state concerned, or through a resolution issued by the [UN] Security Council. Otherwise, such a presence is an occupation.

Therefore, there is no reason for the Syrian state to be ashamed of its stance on the presence of Iran or Russia in Syria. The Syrian State declares its stances clearly and explicitly: that the presence of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is based upon an official invitation by the Syrian government. Thus, their presence is legal according to international law. Can anyone in the West — or the media outlets who claim to be neutral — convince any Syrian citizen that the U.S. presence or the Turkish presence is legal?

The Syrian State says they are forces of occupation. There is no [UN] Security Council resolution allowing them to be present in Syria. So what is the meaning behind their presence? They are using the law of force, rather than the force of law. Thus, they are referring back to the law of the jungle and not to the force of international law.

Those occupiers support terrorism, created terrorism, and are still financing it according to a confession made by the former Qatari prime minister that his country spent $37 billion to arm and finance armed groups in Syria. The Qatari PM confessed that his country and the armed groups had agreed to destroy Syria. Yet, they disputed when things went out of their control. They paid the armed groups to hunt the prey. However, they disputed among themselves when the prey escaped.

 

EB | Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees and has supported the Palestinian resistance. Could you please explain the role of some Palestinians in the events in Syria within the past few years, whether in fighting terrorism or supporting it.

Will Hamas Challenge Fatah in the West Bank?

GH | The Syrian State does not deal with people and does not take stances based on reactions. The Syrian state has its own constants and principles, and it [continues to] adhere to these constants and principles even in its ninth year of war. Syria still believes that the cause of Palestine is the central cause of the Arab world.

So, when some Palestinian groups choose to affiliate themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than being loyal to the Palestinian cause and to Syria, it makes Syria [even] more committed to its principles. Especially as these days, the world knows well that the Muslim Brotherhood [has become] the basis of evil since they’ve adopted terrorism.

The Palestinian cause remains the central cause. Syria will always take interest in the Palestinian cause, in spite of the fact that some [Palestinians] were eager to be part of the war on the Syrian State. Even though weapons that were supposed to be used to fight Israel were used in the war on Syrian citizens.

The Syrian State is now recovering and history will remember those [Palestinians] as traitors. History will show that Syria has been, and will be, loyal to the Palestinian cause.

The Yarmouk Camp is back under Syrian sovereignty. The camp is now free from those who carried weapons and used them against Syrian citizens, whatever names they used — ISIS, Nusra or otherwise — and regardless of their nationality, Palestinian or otherwise. All of them are now gone, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian people the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army and the wisdom of our leader, President Bashar al-Assad.

 

EB | Some Palestinians remained loyal to Syria, including in fighting terrorism, like the Quds Brigade…

GH | Yes, of course. Surely. There are loyal people even inside occupied Palestine. Not all people are ungrateful to those who help them. Not all people bite the hand that is stretched out to help them. Only traitors bite that hand.

 

EB | When eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were being liberated, Western and international media said that the Syrian army was massacring and raping civilians there and that both the Syrian and the Russian militaries were bombing hospitals. Now, they are saying that 29 hospitals in Idlib have been targeted. What would you say about these accusations?

GH | We have liberated eastern Ghouta. We have also liberated eastern Aleppo. In both locations, a number of field hospitals were shown on television with piles of medicine. This implies that these hospitals were not bombed. This is very briefly.

The other point is that when a building is selected as a command center for armed groups under the pretext of its being a hospital, does this mean we should let those positioned in eastern Ghouta target Damascus on a daily basis with their shells?

Didn’t the world watch those angels of mercy, when they entered Adra industrial town, burning people alive in ovens and throwing civilians off fourth and fifth floors?

We’re talking about war here, we’re talking here about armies of terrorists equipped with light, medium and heavy weapons and empires of media around the world, in addition to the regional and world powers supporting them.

It is the duty of the Syrian State, before being its own right, to provide the Syrian people with protection against terrorism. The problem with the national Syrian media is that it does not reach the West.

Crossing points are identified as corridors for the exit of civilians before any military operation gets started in a populated area. Such corridors are then equipped with ambulances, medical services and every other need. Who targeted the nurses, doctors and civilians on their way out when citizens were evacuated from eastern Ghouta?

Has anybody seen the photo of the Syrian soldier carrying an old woman on his back and a child on his arm? That soldier knew he could drop as a martyr carrying this heavy load. Other soldiers fell as martyrs while they were helping civilians escape.

That number, 29 hospitals, is a lie in itself. It is more than the number of [national] hospitals available all over Syria. Do they allocate a hospital for every twenty or thirty people? This is illogical.

There is also something strange about all the field hospitals that we discovered. Saudi, Israeli and U.S. medicine was found in these hospitals. How did such medicine reach the terrorists? Did it come from underneath the ground?

And those who had been targeting Damascus and Aleppo are all of sudden depicted as angels of mercy, peace and freedom advocates calling for democracy?

It’s worth pointing out to people in the West that it has been proven that only a limited number of the fighters in armed groups came from western Europe and North America, while tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, came from other countries.

The Turkish president declares that such terrorists are free to leave Syrian territory whenever he gets upset with Europe or the U.S. Subsequently, EU countries and the U.S. get so horrified at the possibility of those terrorists returning home.

The EU countries and the U.S. do not want any of those terrorists to return. Why is it that they do not want them to come back? Are they not their own citizens? They say that such terrorists will spread terrorism, so they spread terrorism there while they plant roses and flowers here? Is it okay for terrorists to spread terror here while they’re forbidden to return to their own countries?

Briefly, these are the types of lies spread by the West.

I’m calling on each and every citizen of Western countries, as I am absolutely sure that they have pure human emotion, not to believe the Western media. I want them to be certain that their governments have participated in the killing of the Syrian people and in the killing of Syrian children. Their governments participated in the killing of Syrian women and the killing of the Syrian elderly and convinced them [Western citizens] that they were promoting something else [freedom].

 

EB | Recently, journalists from CBS and Sky News were in Idlib. I believe one of the two groups, Sky News, claimed that it was targeted by the Syrian army. Could they be reporting independently of al-Qaeda or any of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? They claim they are not [embedded] with al-Qaeda. Is this feasible? Is this realistic? 

GH | It’s a funny question. You’re a journalist. Surely, this is not the first time you have visited Syria. Have you faced any obstacles while entering Syria as a journalist? Do any Western or European countries accept the entry of foreign journalists illegally into their countries?

Sky News, the BBC, and Al Jazeera teams conduct live transmissions while embedded with armed groups — the terrorists. I wish that the mental power of the Syrian soldiers could become super advanced so that they can order shells to avoid foreign correspondents who are side by side with terrorists. The army is responding to attacks launched by terrorists — soldiers and officers of the Syrian army cannot give orders to an exploding shell to avoid this or that.

The most important question is this: What are they doing there? How did they enter? Who is in control in Idlib? Isn’t it the Nusra Front? How are they [the journalists] allowed to be there? They are there under the protection of the Nusra Front. They are under the protection of an internationally-designated terrorist organization. Their countries should hold them accountable for communicating with terrorist groups before asking why the army is targeting them.

 

EB | How can Idlib be liberated when Turkish forces occupy northern Syria and there are civilians in Idlib, in addition to the 70,000 al-Qaeda and other terrorist fighters?

GH | There were civilians and armed groups in Homs. There were civilians and armed groups in Ghouta as well. There were civilians and armed groups all over Dara`a.  All these regions have been liberated. The majority of citizens remained there while the terrorists were wiped out. Idlib is no exception. Eastern parts of the Euphrates are no exception either.

Each square centimeter of Syrian land is part and parcel of Syria as a whole. It is the duty and the right of the Syrian State to eradicate terrorism.

Unless under an invitation by the Syrian government, any foreign military presence on the Syrian territory is a force of occupation. The Syrian State is entitled to face such an occupation with every possible means.

The Syrian State has opened the door wide for reconciliation. The Syrian State trusts the wisdom of Russian and Iranian friends and relies on its relations with Turkey.

Surely each Syrian citizen, civilian or military, wishes that not even one drop of blood be spilled. This does not mean to yield to occupation in any way.

Idlib will be freed either through reconciliations or a political agreement. Otherwise, the Syrian State will find the means to liberate Idlib in the same way it liberated all other regions. I am absolutely certain — not as an officer but rather as a citizen — I know how Syrian citizens think; they believe that Idlib will be freed, as will each and every inch of the Syrian territory.

The presence of U.S., Turkish, or any other occupation force does not mean such a force is a destiny that cannot be faced. As long as we [the Syrian State] spare no effort or means — whether military, political, economic or diplomatic —  to win this war [against terrorism] by God’s will, and I hope it is not going to be through military action. But if things reach a dead-end, Idlib will not remain under occupation.

 

EB | Can you speak to the importance of liberating Idlib, not only for Syria’s territorial integrity but also for the villages in Northern Hama that are affected by terrorists in Idlib? The media is not talking about Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other places being attacked by terrorists.

GH | When Mhardeh and Sqailbiyeh are targeted, as a Syrian citizen, I do not see these two towns as less important than Damascus. Likewise when the neighborhoods of Homs were targeted.

All areas inhabited by Syrian citizens under the control of the Syrian State have been targets for those armed terrorist groups that are supported by the West, which claims it is standing by human rights and cares about the interests of the Syrian people.

For Syrian citizens, the liberation of each centimeter, or rather each grain of sand, is as important as the liberation of Idlib. Of course, the existence of armed groups in Idlib leads to abnormal circumstances that cause dysfunction in citizens’ daily lives. Thus, it is important to liberate Idlib to guarantee the return of normal life in Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other areas.

At the same time, it is important to end the occupation by the U.S. and its allies.

I hope that each European or American citizen will ask: Why do Syrian citizens return to areas that have been liberated? Why do citizens welcome the army? Why do citizens — except those who are held hostage by terrorists — flee from areas under the control of terrorist groups?

The civilians residing in terrorist-held areas are helpless hostages. A year ago all of the neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta were populated by terrorists. If the Syrian army had been shelling civilians in the past, why not do now? Why are people now living in peace there?

These are questions that I put forward to people living in the West. I hope they are human enough to ask [themselves] these questions.

 

EB | Regarding misinformation from international media on the Syrian Arab Army, portraying them as murderers and rapists. Can you speak about the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army throughout these eight years of war?

GH | I will answer your question with a question. Syria is an area of 185,000 square kilometers. According to United Nations documents, 360,000 armed terrorists infiltrated Syrian territory.

I would like to draw an example other than Syria. I’ll give the U.S., the superpower of the world, as an example. Let’s suppose that 36,000, rather than 360,000, terrorists infiltrate any state of the United States. That’s 10 percent of the number of terrorists who made their way into Syria. Let’s also suppose that such terrorists are supported by world powers. What would have happened to the U.S.?

The achievements of the Syrian Arab Army are not ordinary; these achievements are miraculous accomplishments.

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. According to military theory, any fight between an army and terrorist militia of armed gangs will end with the armed gangs winning. This has been evident throughout military history.

For the first time in the history of humankind, a traditional army has defeated armies of militant groups. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?

In the first months of this war, the Syrian leadership realized that the terrorists wanted Syrians to be used to seeing blood everywhere. So, soldiers were forbidden from carrying weapons, even handguns, when they went to areas of so-called demonstrations to prevent demonstrators from destroying infrastructure.

For months the soldiers confronted the militants knowing that they could be martyred. However, the discipline of the Syrian army pushed the soldiers to do their missions without carrying a weapon.

Let any Western citizen imagine how it would be for a soldier with no weapons facing armed militants to stop them from destroying infrastructure and targeting civilians.

This is the Syrian army. The Syrian army cleared most of the Syrian regions occupied by the fiercest types of terrorism ever witnessed in the history of mankind.

 

EB |  Thank you very much for your time and for the interview in general.

GH |  I also would like to thank you all for what you’ve done so far and for all of the questions you raised. I kindly request that you share my replies with foreign readers.

Personally, I think your role as an objective journalist transcends the traditional role of journalism. It reflects an ethical responsibility of telling the truth about what you’ve seen. If you want to help the Syrian people, the greatest help you can offer the Syrian people is to tell the truth you have seen with your own eyes, not just what is said all over the internet.

Again, anyone can look up Abu Saqr al-Souri and see how he ate the heart of a dead soldier. He was a member of the so-called peaceful group of the Free Syrian Army, when he was killed — he was with the Nusra Front. This can be enough to convey the message.

Voices from Syria’s Rukban Refugee Camp Belie Corporate Media Reporting

Global Research, July 05, 2019
MintPress News 4 July 2019

Eva Bartlett visited refugees in Syria escaping the horrid conditions in the Rukban Refugee Camp, a desolate outpost in the US administered deconfliction zone. What she found was very different than the ‘reality’ depicted by the Western press.

***

A little over a year ago — just after the Syrian army and its allies liberated the towns and villages around eastern Ghouta from the myriad armed jihadist groups that had waged a brutal campaign of torture and executions in the area — I interviewed a number of the civilians that had endured life under jihadist rule in Douma, Kafr Batna and the Horjilleh Center for Displaced People just south of Damascus.

A common theme emerged from the testimonies of those civilians: starvation as a result of jihadist control over aid and food supplies, and the public execution of civilians.

Their testimonies echoed those of civilians in other areas of Syria formerly occupied by armed anti-government groups, from Madaya and al-Waer to eastern Aleppo and elsewhere.

Despite those testimonies and the reality on the ground, Western politicians and media alike have placed the blame for the starvation and suffering of Syrian civilians squarely on the shoulders of Russia and Syria, ignoring the culpability of terrorist groups.

In reality, terrorist groups operating within areas of Syria that they occupy have had full control over food and aid, and ample documentation shows that they have hoarded food and medicines for themselves. Even under better circumstances, terrorist groups charged hungry civilians grotesquely inflated prices for basic foods, sometimes demanding up to 8,000 Syrian pounds (US $16) for a kilogram of salt, and 3,000 pounds (US $6) for a bag of bread.

Given the Western press’ obsessive coverage of the starvation and lack of medical care endured by Syrian civilians, its silence has been deafening in the case of Rukban — a desolate refugee camp in Syria’s southeast where conditions are appalling to such an extent that civilians have been dying as a result. Coverage has been scant of the successful evacuations of nearly 15,000 of the 40,000 to 60,000 now-former residents of Rukban (numbers vary according to source) to safe havens where they are provided food, shelter and medical care.

Silence about the civilian evacuations from Rukban is likely a result of the fact that those doing the rescuing are the governments of Syria and Russia — and the fact that they have been doing so in the face of increasing levels of opposition from the U.S. government.

A harsh, abusive environment

Rukban lies on Syria’s desolate desert border with Jordan, surrounded by a 55-km deconfliction zone, unilaterally established and enforced by the United States, and little else aside from the American base at al-Tanf, only 25 km away — a base whose presence is illegal under international law.

It is, by all reports, an unbearably harsh environment year-round and residents of the camp have endured abuse by terrorist groups and merchants within the camp, deprived of the very basics of life for many years now.

In February, the UNHCR reported that young girls and women in Rukban have been forced into marriage, some more than once. Their briefing noted:

Many women are terrified to leave their mud homes or tents and to be outside, as there are serious risks of sexual abuse and harassment. Our staff met mothers who keep their daughters indoors, as they are too afraid to let them go to improvised schools.”

The Jordanian government, home to 664,330 registered Syrian refugees, has adamantly refused any responsibility in providing humanitarian assistance to Rukban, arguing that it is a Syrian issue and that keeping its border with Syria closed is a matter of Jordan’s security — this after a number of terrorist attacks on the border near Rukban, some of which were attributed to ISIS and one that killed six Jordanian soldiers.

According to U.S. think-tank The Century Foundation, armed groups in Rukban have up to 4,000 men in their ranks and include:

Maghawir al-Thawra, the Free Tribes Army, the remnants of a formerly Pentagon-backed group called the Qaryatein Martyr Battalions and three factions formerly linked to the CIA’s covert war in Syria: the Army of the Eastern Lions, the Martyr Ahmed al-Abdo Forces, and the Shaam Liberation Army.”

Those armed groups, according to Russia, include several hundred ISIS and al-Qaeda recruits. Even the Atlantic Council — a NATO- and U.S. State Department-funded think-tank consistent in its anti-Syrian government stance — reported in November 2017 that the Jordanian government acknowledged an ISIS presence in Rukban.

The Century Foundation also notes the presence of ISIS in Rukban and concedes that the U.S. military “controls the area but won’t guarantee the safety of aid workers seeking access to the camp.”

Rukban

The Rukban camp, sandwiched between Jordan, Syria borders and Iraq, Feb. 14, 2017. Raad Adayleh | AP

Syria and Russia have sought out diplomatic means to resolve the issue of Rukban, arguing repeatedly at the United Nations Security Council for the need to dismantle the camp and return refugees to areas once plagued by terrorism but that have now been secured.

As I wrote recently:

The U.S. stymied aid to Rukban, and was then only willing to provide security for aid convoys to a point 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) away from the camp, according to the UN’s own Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock. So, by U.S. administration logic, convoys should have dropped their Rukban-specific aid in areas controlled by terrorist groups and just hoped for the best.”

The U.S., for its part, has both refused the evacuation of refugees from the camp and obstructed aid deliveries on at least two occasions. In February, Russia and Syria opened two humanitarian corridors to Rukban and began delivering much-needed aid to its residents.

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, noted in May 2019 that Syria agreed to facilitate the first aid convoy to Rukban earlier this year, but the convoy was ultimately delayed by the United States for 40 days. A second convoy was then delayed for four months. Al-Ja’afari also noted that the U.S., as an occupying power in Syria, is obliged under the Geneva Conventions to provide food, medicine and humanitarian assistance to those under its occupation.

Then, in early March, the Russian Center for Reconciliation reported that U.S. authorities had refused entry to a convoy of buses intending to enter the deconfliction zone to evacuate refugees from Rukban.

According to a March 2019 article from Public Radio International:

[W]hen Syrian and Iranian forces have entered the 34-mile perimeter around the base, American warplanes have responded with strikes — effectively putting Rukban and its residents under American protection from Assad’s forces.”

Despite the abundance of obstacles they faced, Syria and Russia were ultimately able to evacuate over 14,000 of the camp’s residents to safety. In a joint statement on June 19, representatives of the two countries noted that some of the camp’s residents were forced to pay “militants” between $400 to $1000 in order to leave Rukban.

Media reports on Rukban … from abroad

While Rukban — unlike Madaya or Aleppo in 2016 — generally isn’t making headlines, there are some pro-regime-change media reporting on it, although even those reports tend to omit the fact that civilians have been evacuated to safety and provided with food and medical care.

Instead, articles relieve America and armed Jihadist groups of their role in the suffering of displaced Syrians in Rukban, reserving blame for Syria and Russia and claiming internal refugees are being forced to leave against their will only to be imprisoned by the Syrian government.

Emad Ghali, a “media activist,” has been at the center of many of these claims. Ghali has been cited as a credible source in most of the mainstream Western press’ reporting on Rukban, from the New York Times, to Al Jazeera, to the Middle East Eye. Cited since at least 2018 in media reporting on Rukban, Ghali has an allegiance to the Free Syrian Army, a fact easily gleaned by simply browsing his Facebook profile. He recently posted multiple times on Facebook mourning the passing of jihadist commander and footballer Abdul Baset al-Sarout. As it turns out, Sarout not only held extremist and sectarian views, but pledged allegiance to ISIS, among other less-than-noble acts ignored by most media reports that cite him.

Ghali ISIS

Ghali paid homage to ISIS commander Abdul Baset al-Sarout on his Facebook page

Citing Ghali as merely a “media activist” is not an unusual practice for many covering the Syrian conflict. In fact, Ghali holds the same level of extremist-minded views as the “sources” cited by the New York Times in articles that I reported on around the time Ghouta was being liberated from jihadist groups in 2018.

Four sources used in those articles had affiliations to, and/or reverence for the al-Qaeda-linked Jaysh al-Islam — including the former leader Zahran Alloush who has been known to confine civilians in cages, including women and children, for use as human shields in Ghouta — Faylaq al-Rahman, and even to al-Qaeda, not to mention the so-called Emir of al-Qaeda in Syria, the applauded Abu Muhammad Al-Julani.

Claims in a Reuters article of forced internment, being held at gunpoint in refugee centers, come from sources not named in Rukban — instead generically referred to as “residents of Rukban say”…

An article in the UAE-based The National also pushed fear-mongering over the “fate that awaits” evacuees, saying:

[T]here is talk of Syrian government guards separating women and children from men in holding centres in Homs city.There are also accusations of a shooting last month, with two men who had attempted an escape from one of the holding centres allegedly killed. The stories are unconfirmed, but they are enough to make Rukban’s men wary of taking the government’s route out.”

Yet reports from those who have actually visited the centers paint a different picture.

An April 2019 report by Russia-based Vesti News shows calm scenes of Rukban evacuees receiving medical exams by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who according to Vesti, have doctors there every day; and of food and clean, if not simple, rooms in a former school housing displaced refugees from Rukban. Notably, the Vesti journalist states: “There aren’t any checkpoints or barriers at the centre. The entrance and exit are free.”

The Russian Reconciliation Center reported on May 23 of the refugee centers:

In early May, these shelters were visited by officials from the respective UN agencies, in particular, the UNHCR, who could personally see that the Syrian government provided the required level of accommodation for the refugees in Homs. It is remarkable that most of the former Rukban residents have already relocated from temporary shelters in Homs to permanent residencies in government-controlled areas.”

Likewise, in the Horjilleh Center which I visited in 2018 families were living in modest but sanitary shelters, cooked food was provided, a school was running, and authorities were working to replace identity papers lost during the years under the rule of jihadist groups.

Calling on the U.S. to close the camp

David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that,

People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, they receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.”

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.”

Syria Rukban

Syrian Arab Red Crescent members unload food and water for Rukban’s evacuees. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Halldorsson noted official UN statements, including:

“Alleged mistreatment of Rukban returnees

  • The United Nations is aware of media reports about people leaving Rukban having been killed or subject to mistreatment upon arrival in shelters in Homs.
  • The United Nations has not been able to confirm any of the allegations.

Regarding the issue of shelters, Halldorsson noted that as of July 1st:

  • Nearly 15,600 people have left Rukban since March – or nearly 40 per cent of the estimated total population of 41,700.
  • The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters in Homs on three occasions and found conditions in these shelters to be adequate.”

Confirming both UN officials’ statements about the Syrian government’s role in Rukban, the Syrian Mission to the United Nations in New York City told me:

The Syrian Government has spared no effort in recent years to provide every form of humanitarian assistance and support to all Syrians affected by the crisis, regardless of their locations throughout Syria. The Syrian Government has therefore collaborated and cooperated with the United Nations and other international organizations working in Syria to that end, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/182.

There must be an end to the suffering of tens of thousands of civilians who live in Al-Rukban, an area which is controlled by illegitimate foreign forces and armed terrorist groups affiliated with them. The continued suffering of those Syrian civilians demonstrates the indifference of the United States Administration to their suffering and disastrous situation.

We stress once again that there is a need to put an end to the suffering of these civilians and to close this camp definitively. The detained people in the camp must be allowed to leave it and return to their homes, which have been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army from terrorism. We note that the Syrian Government has taken all necessary measures to evacuate the detainees from the Rukban camp and end their suffering. What is needed today is for the American occupation forces to allow the camp to be dismantled and to ensure safe transportation in the occupied Al-Tanf area.”

Given that the United States has clearly demonstrated not only a lack of will to aid and or resettle Rukban’s residents but a callousness that flies in the face of their purported concern for Syrians in Rukban, the words of Syrian and Russian authorities on how to solve the crisis in Rukban could not ring truer.

Very little actual coverage

The sparse coverage Rukban has received has mostly revolved around accusations that the camp’s civilians fear returning to government-secured areas of Syria for fear of being imprisoned or tortured. This, in spite of the fact that areas brought back under government control over the years have seen hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians return to live in peace and of a confirmation by the United Nations that they had “positively assessed the conditions created by the Syrian authorities for returning refugees.”

The accusations also come in spite of the fact that, for years now, millions of internally displaced Syrians have taken shelter in government areas, often housed and given medical care by Syrian authorities.

Over the years I’ve found myself waiting for well over a month for my journalist visa at the Syrian embassy in Beirut to clear. During these times I traveled around Lebanon where I’ve encountered Syrians who left their country either for work, the main reason, or because their neighborhoods were occupied by terrorist groups. All expressed a longing for Syria and a desire to return home.

In March, journalist Sharmine Narwani tweeted in part that,

the head of UNDP in Lebanon told me during an interview: ‘I have not met a single Syrian refugee who does not want to go home.’”

Of the authors who penned articles claiming that Syrians in Rukban are afraid to return to government-secured areas of Syria, few that I’m aware of actually traveled to Syria to speak with evacuees, instead reporting from Istanbul or even further abroad.

On June 12, I did just that, hiring a taxi to take me to a dusty stretch of road roughly 60 km east of ad-Dumayr, Syria, where I was able to intercept a convoy of buses ferrying exhausted refugees out of Rukban.

Merchants, armed groups and Americans

Five hundred meters from a fork in the highway connecting a road heading northeast to Tadmur (Palmyra) to another heading southeast towards Iraq — I waited at a nondescript stopping point called al-Waha, where buses stopped for water and food to be distributed to starving refugees. In Arabic, al-Waha means the oasis and, although only a makeshift Red Crescent distribution center, and compared to Rukban it might as well have been an oasis.

A convoy of 18 buses carrying nearly 900 tormented Syrians followed by a line of trucks carrying their belongings were transferred to refugee reception centers in Homs. Members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributed boxes containing beans, chickpeas and canned meat — the latter a scarcity among the displaced.

Rukban evacuation

Buses transported nearly 900 refugees from Rukban Camp to temporary shelters in Homs on June 12. Photo | Eva Bartlett

As food and water were handed out, I moved from bus to bus speaking with people who endured years-long shortages of food, medicine, clean water, work and education … the basic essentials of life. Most people I spoke to said they were starving because they couldn’t afford the hefty prices of food in the camp, which they blamed on Rukban’s merchants. Some blamed the terrorist groups operating in the camp and still others blamed the Americans. A few women I spoke to blamed the Syrian government, saying no aid had entered Rukban at all, a claim that would later be refuted by reports from both the UN and Red Crescent.

Image on the right: An elderly woman recounted enduring hunger in Rukban. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Syria Rukban

An old woman slumped on the floor of one bus recounted:

We were dying of hunger, life was hell there. Traders [merchants] sold everything at high prices, very expensive; we couldn’t afford to buy things. We tried to leave before today but we didn’t have money to pay for a car out. There were no doctors; it was horrible there.”

Aboard another bus, an older woman sat on the floor, two young women and several babies around her. She had spent four years in the camp:

“Everything was expensive, we were hungry all the time. We ate bread, za’atar, yogurt… We didn’t know meat, fruit…”

Merchants charged 1,000 Syrian pounds (US $2) for five potatoes, she said, exemplifying the absurdly high prices.

I asked whether she’d been prevented from leaving before. “Yes,” she responded.

She didn’t get a chance to elaborate as a younger woman further back on the bus shouted at her that no one had been preventing anyone from leaving. When I asked the younger woman how the armed groups had treated her, she replied, “All respect to them.”

But others that I spoke to were explicit in their blame for both the terrorist groups operating in the camp and the U.S. occupation forces in al-Tanf.

An older man from Palmyra who spent four years in the camp spoke of “armed gangs” paid in U.S. dollars being the only ones able to eat properly:

The armed gangs were living while the rest of the people were dead. No one here had fruit for several years. Those who wanted fruit have to pay in U.S. dollars. The armed groups were the only ones who could do so. They were spreading propaganda: ‘don’t go, the aid is coming.’ We do not want aid. We want to go back to our towns.”

Mahmoud Saleh, a young man from Homs, told me he’d fled home five years ago. According to Saleh, the Americans were in control of Rukban. He also put blame on the armed groups operating in the camp, especially for controlling who was permitted to leave. He said,

“There are two other convoys trying to leave but the armed groups are preventing them.”

Image below: Mahmoud Saleh from Homs said the Americans control Rukban and blamed armed groups in the camp for controlling who could leave. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Syria Rukban

A shepherd who had spent three years in Rukban blamed “terrorists” for not being able to leave. He also blamed the United States:

“Those controlling Tanf wouldn’t let us leave, the Americans wouldn’t let us leave.”

Many others I spoke to said they had wanted to leave before but were fear-mongered by terrorists into staying, told they would be “slaughtered by the regime,” a claim parroted by many in the Western press when Aleppo and other areas of Syria were being liberated from armed groups.

The testimonies I heard when speaking to Rukban evacuees radically differed from the claims made in most of the Western press’ reporting about Syria’s treatment of refugees. These testimonies are not only corroborated by Syrian and Russian authorities, but also by the United Nations itself.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza. She tweets at @EvaKBartlett

Featured image:  An elderly women evacuated from Rukban complained of hunger due to extremely high food prices. Photo | Eva Bartlett

HIGHLIGHTING THE PEACE DAMASCUS MISSED FOR YEARS WHEN UNDER TERRORISTS’ MORTARS

In Gaza

As I mentioned at the beginning of this clip, when in Syria as a journalist it usually takes 3 or so days to acquire the necessary permissions to go to areas outside Damascus (or rather, areas outside of Damascus where there is a risk due to presence of terrorists, terrorists bombings, or their landmines).

During this time, instead of loitering I try to interview average Syrian civilians, sometimes artisans, and otherwise love walking alone in the meandering back lanes, absorbing the atmosphere–whether daytime or evening.

People ask me about safety: I feel completely safe walking alone in these lanes. In contrast from my first visit in 2014 to the liberation of eastern Ghouta in 2018, I did not feel safe, nor did Syrian civilians, because at any moment a terrorist-fired mortar might strike, as they did incessantly over the years.

As I noted a few weeks ago when I was here, the mood on the streets is completely difference than in previous years. Yes, people remained steadfast and defiant in the face of the terrorism, but now streets are busier than before, late into the night. That doesn’t make a good “story”, so Western media are not, to my knowledge, reporting on this. Instead, I see new stories invented to yet again attempt to demonize Syria or Russia, instead of just allowing Syrians to get back to life. It’s for the hell Syrians have endured and the silence of the media on this hell that I continue to post positive updates while in Damascus.

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So-called “White Helmets” Preparing to Film Staged Chemical Attacks in Idlib Hospitals: Zakharova

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Moscow is concerned over the fact that terrorists have not abandoned their attempts to stage chemical attacks against Syrian civilians.

The White Helmets have deployed equipment in several hospitals in the Syrian province of Idlib to film false flag chemical attacks and blame it on Damascus, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on Thursday, according to Sputnik.

“There are also serious concerns about reports that terrorists are not abandoning attempts to fake the use of chemical weapons against civilians. According to available information, a group of activists, the notorious pseudo-humanitarian organization, the White Helmets, have prepared the necessary equipment in several hospitals of Idlib to film such provocations”, Zakharova said at a briefing.

The spokeswoman elaborated that tensions were running high in the Idlib de-escalation zone, saying that Tahrir al-Sham militants are carrying out daily shelling of nearby areas and actively building up their forces near the contact line with Syrian government forces, Sputnik said.

Moscow and Damascus have on a multitude of occasions pointed out that the White Helmets have staged a number of provocations in Syria involving the use of chemical weapons in order to blame them on the Syrian government and provide Western countries with justification for intervention in the Arab Republic.

The notorious NGO has repeatedly been busted staging and filming false-flag attacks: last April, the group published footage featuring doctors in Douma hospitals treating patients that had suffered from an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian Arab Army.

Reports of the purported use of chemical agents in Eastern Ghouta surfaced on 7 April 2018 in some media, citing militants on the ground. A number of Western countries, including France, the US and the UK, quickly picked up the claims, and instantly accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of having dropped a chlorine bomb on civilians.

Damascus vehemently denied the allegations, denouncing the attack as a staged provocation to justify potential foreign intervention. Immediately after the purported incident, Moscow dispatched its chemical corps commission to inspect the site and determine whether there had been an actual chemical attack; the expert group, however, found no traces of chemical agents in Ghouta.

US Troop Pullout From al-Tanf

Speaking of the envisaged US withdrawal from Syria, Zakharova said that Moscow had urged Washington to immediately pull its troops out of the al-Tanf zone and transfer the area to Damascus’s control.

“We urge Washington to immediately withdraw its troops from At Tanf are and transfer control over this territory to the Syrian government, which could take care of its citizens as we see it can do”.

Zakharova also drew attention to the “plight of the inhabitants of Rukban camp for internally displaced persons”, which is located within the 55-kilometre security zone set by the Pentagon.

“The full responsibility for the depressing situation in the camp is borne, of course, by the United States, which illegally occupies this zone, and secondly, deploys its military base there, regularly providing material and technical support, while not contributing to the delivery of food and medicine to the residents of Rukban. It is necessary to immediately take measures to resettle the camp”, she noted.

H.M

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NETANYAHU THREATENS LEBANON WITH INVASION. SYRIAN, RUSSIAN FORCES RESCUE CIVILIANS IN EUPHRATES VALLEY

South Front

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there is a “reasonable possibility” that the Israeli military may have to conduct operations inside Lebanon territory. This move will go in the framework of the ongoing Operation Northern Shield, which is aimed at discovering and neutralizing Hezbollah cross-border tunnels.

Netanyahu also revealed that Israel will call for a U.N. Security Council meeting soon to demand a condemnation of the alleged Hezbollah actions.

“Israel expects an unequivocal condemnation of Hezbollah, the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran, a condemnation from the Lebanese government and a demand that it stops giving its approval for the use of its territory for these attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu said.

So far, Operation Northern Shield has been carried out on the Israeli side of the contact line only. However, Hezbollah already put its forces on high alert and warned Israel that it’s ready to respond to any aggression.

Meanwhile, in Syria, the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance continued its efforts to restore stability in the government-held part of the country.

In the region of Western Ghouta, government troops discovered a large number of weapons and equipment abandoned by militants. The weapons included a Soviet-made RPG-29 anti-tank weapon, several rounds of the US-made SMAW shoulder-launched rocket weapon, a Yugoslav-made M79 Osa anti-tank weapon with several rounds, assault rifles, heavy machine guns and loads of ammunition of different calibers.

In the province of Quneitra, local reconciliation committees handed over a number of US and Israeli-supplied medical equipment and other supplies to government forces. Most of these supplies had been provided by Tel Aviv and Washington to the White Helmets organization, members of which fled the area after its liberation from terrorists.

In the Euphrates Valley, Syrian and Russian forces evacuated hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children, from the ISIS-held pocket of Hajin where US-backed forces are conducting their own operation against ISIS. The humanitarian operation was reportedly carried out through the al-Salihiyah crossing on the Euphrates River.

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DAMASCUS TRADE FAIR AND FESTIVAL OF THE CROSS MARK THE RETURN OF PEACE TO MUCH OF SYRIA

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A Maaloula fire spinner during the annual September Festival of the Holy Cross in Maaloula, Syria. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

Eva Bartlett attends the Damascus International Trade fair and the annual Maaloula Festival of the Cross to see how Syrians in areas liberated from jihadi rule are defiantly celebrating their new found freedoms.

September 24, 2018, Mint Press News

DAMASCUS and MAALOULA, SYRIA — (Report) In April 2018 I returned to Syria, visiting recently-liberated areas in eastern Ghouta and also travelling to the southern village of Hadar — which at the time was under continual bombardment by terrorists just to the south, with the assistance of Israel and its observation towers over the region.

My focus last April and May was highlighting this media-neglected issue, but also going to the site of the concocted and yet-unproven allegations of a chemical weapons attack. Indeed, as I wrote, no one at the hospital in question, nor the people of Douma I spoke with on the street, believed a chemical attack had occurred. Instead, they were more concerned with detailing the horrors and starvation they had lived under the rule of Jaysh al-Islam and other terrorist factions.

So, the focus of my last visit to Syria, which has been warred upon for the last seven years, was in highlighting the crimes of the terrorist factions against civilians, but also the crimes of the Western and regional nations promoting war propaganda and baseless accusations against Syria and its allies.

In early September, I returned to Syria for more uplifting reasons: to attend two important annual events that in recent years were interrupted due to terrorism: The annual Damascus International Trade Fair and Maaloula’s annual Holy Cross Festival. 

A Crowded, Peaceful Damascus International Trade Fair and Revival

This year, both went on in a cheerful climate, and the only blasts were celebratory ones. The resumption and successful holding of these events is a clear indication that Syria is returning to peace, and is closer than ever to ending the war that the NATO-Gulf-Israeli alliance plotted years before 2011.

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At the Damascus International Trade Fair Ground, Opening Night. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

In 2017 the trade fair, in its first year resumed since 2012, was attacked by terrorists who were then occupying eastern Ghouta. Six people were killed. On September 6, the opening night of the 2018 fair, I encountered Fares Shehabi, a Syrian MP who elaborated on the murders:

“Those in eastern Ghouta, the so-called ‘rebels’, al-Qaeda gangs, they targeted the entry of this fair and killed some people — visitors and participants. One lady from old Damascus was killed. She was participating in this fair — she had a clothing garment factory — and she was killed at the door.”

Watch | Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on the re-opening of the Damascus International Fair

This year, with Damascus’ Yarmouk district (formerly occupied by ISIS and al-Qaeda) liberated, and with the liberation of eastern Ghouta — the source of most of the missiles and mortars that killed over 10,000 civilians in Damascus alone — there was no concern that the deadly attack of 2017 would be repeated.

The official opening ceremony included a year-by-year overview of the six decades of fairs past — minus the years 2012-16 — and various stunning musical and dance performances.

I revisited the fairgrounds just south of Damascus after the opening events and while walking around I saw the diversity that is Syrian culture, including young women dressed how they chose — something unthinkable under the rule of the fanatical extremists who occupied the now-liberated areas. In fact, under their rule, women wouldn’t be out strolling period, much less doing so with male friends.

The atmosphere was in that regard less that of a trade fair and more of a public park with people sprawled on lawns, picnicking and children playing. Elsewhere, music blasted from fair booths and from stages set up to entertain the crowds, including a children’s concert where a young boy impressively crooned a song by legendary Syrian singer George Wassouf.

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A crowd watches a children’s singing competition at the Damascus International Trade Fair. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

A novelty at this year’s fair was the Sahab 73 two-seater plane, designed and built by Syrian engineers — the “first nationally-made aircraft,” as SANA reported.

Fares al-Kartally, the fair’s General Director, told me that of the 48 countries participating, 27 of them were officially participating through their embassies and 21 through companies and agents. The latter included companies from France, Britain, Spain, and some Arab countries, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

In fact, 1,722 companies participated in the trade fair, the main participants being Russian, Indian and Iranian. That said, walking around the exhibits, I also saw South Korean, Cuban, and countries neighbouring Syria participating, offering services and goods from textiles, medicines, cosmetics, and food products to products and skills for Syria’s much-needed reconstruction. Of that reconstruction phase, al-Kartally noted it is Syria that will decide who will participate in its reconstruction.

A representative of a Russian company specializing in metal and steel production for warehouses and agricultural use told me:

“It’s just this year that you will be able to foresee the next steps for Syria. Last year, it was very hard to tell when this will be over. This year, we thought it was the right time to participate. We believe this is the right time to come and help the government of Syria, through Russian cooperation, to rebuild Syria, the infrastructure and food security.”

Corporate media has spun this as being a bidding ground for exclusively Russian and Iranian companies. But in reality, while Russia and Iran definitely have a strong presence here, many other nations are present.

In any case, Russia and Iran have not imposed criminal sanctions on Syria, nor have they supported terrorists there. To the contrary, they have been a vital part of the defeat of terrorism in Syria, and a return to peace and stability in liberated areas, providing the peace that allowed the fair to take place.

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Flags of countries participating in the Damascus International Trade Fair fly outside of the fairgrounds in Damascus, Syria. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

In our conversation on the opening night, Fares Shehabi said:

We expect high participation from many countries and local firms. It’s about a political statement, an economic statement, that we won this war and we will win also the reconstruction war, and this is just one proof of it.”

Notably absent were companies from Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

As al-Kartally reflected:

In 2007, I took a course in strategic planning in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The instructor was American. He was talking about countries witnessing rapid economic growth, so I mentioned Syria. He looked at me and laughed, and said, ‘These countries will create problems for you,’ referring to Saudi Arabia and its allies.”

And indeed, they did.

However — after seven years of war, untold tragic loss of life, and immense destruction in areas occupied or targeted by terrorists — the tide is turning for Syria. Rebuilding will be a challenging process, to put it mildly, but more importantly, in my experience, most Syrians first and foremost want an end to terrorism. That wish has been widely granted — thanks to the Syrian army, government, and Syria’s political and military allies.

Yet Idlib remains occupied by al-Qaeda and other fanatics. And eastern Syria remains occupied by the U.S., its allied forces and other fanatics — including ISIS — who seem to flourish wherever an American presence has a hand.

According to al-Kartally, the 2017 trade fair saw over 2.2 million visitors attend over the course of 10 days:

Last year’s Fair was the first held in many years during the crisis and for people it was a chance to get out and breathe after feeling suffocated for so long.”

On September 7, its first day open to the public, this year’s fair saw 112,000 visitors. On the fifth day, nearly 220,000 visitors attended. By September 14, the eighth day of the fair, a reported half million visitors went to the fairgrounds.

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Fair-goers walk through the fairgrounds at the Damascus International Trade Fair in Damascus , Syria. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

One night at around 8 p.m., I walked out of the fairgrounds to hail down a taxi on the airport road. I walked past a parking lot filled with buses providing free transportation to and from the fair. Adding to the masses already at the fair, people streamed in to spend their night out with family or friends.

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On September 15, the fair’s final day, Israel again illegally targeted Syria, firing missiles — which were intercepted by Syrian air defenses — towards the Damascus International Airport, not far from the fairgrounds.

The response of the fairgoers was to dance defiantly.

As Fares Shehabi wrote, “This is how Syrians attending Damascus International Fair reacted to the Israeli assault on the adjacent airport..! Defiance..! With people like that we cannot be defeated.”

As Syrian comedian Treka reported, the fair captures the sentiments many visitors were feeling: impressed that, so soon after the liberation of eastern Ghouta and Damascus, there had been so much change for the better in and around Damascus; encouraged that the war on Syria is drawing to an end and peace will prevail; and immense admiration for the Syrian people for remaining steadfast for their country, and with their army — which has, with Syria’s allies, nearly eradicated terrorism in Syria.

Life, Love, Peace: The Maaloula Festival of the Cross

From September 2013 to April 2014, the ancient mountainside village of Maaloula, which lies in the Damascus countryside, was subject to terror attacks, snipers, and occupation by armed groups that Western leadership and some members of the media wanted us to believe were bringing democracy and freedom to Syria. These groups systematically destroyed the town’s heritage, stealing or burning ancient relics and breaking ancient altars and tombs in their plundering for valuables.

In June 2014, two months after it was liberated, I visited Maaloula. The destruction was fresh — historic holy places burned, looted, destroyed.

As I wrote then:

There was the expected destruction from battles waged by and on the terrorists. There was further—clearly-intentional—destruction meted out systematically by the al-Qaeda death squads—particularly on Christian, cultural, and heritage sites. …

In Maaloula, terrorists likewise took great apparent pleasure in destroying and desecrating Christian relics, to the extent of gouging out the eyes from icons and mosaics and shooting down the large clifftop Jesus and Mary statues which had overlooked the village. They likewise burned, robbed and vandalized churches and homes. …

Outside of the early fourth century A.D. Monastery of Sts. Sergius et Bacchus, NDF volunteers and other locals swept rubble, and prepared for the long process of restoration. Inside the ancient church, light poured through mortar holes in the unadorned white dome smashed by terrorist-fired mortars. According to the General, when the SAA had pushed the invaders back beyond the monastery, the terrorists fired mortars towards the monastery and village. They later occupied the monastery, then looted and vandalized it. …

‘They stole many idols from here, including the oldest one in the church,’ the volunteer said. The smashed altar with its unique ridged rim is said to be from between 330 and 325 A.D. ‘In other churches, the altar is rectangular and flat. And only here the altar is a half-circle and rimmed, like the altars of pagans for their animal sacrifice,’ she explained. …

The arson at the tenth-century Convent of St. Thekla was visible from the street, the top two floors utterly blackened by fires set by the invaders. …

In the convent’s Church of St. John the Baptist they likewise set fires, black soot reaching the painted dome high above. They completely destroyed the altar, as well as the pews—which presumably fueled the fire. Throughout the halls of the convent and inside the church itself, NATO’s mercenaries tore, stabbed, burned, or stole Christian iconography, looting what they could, meticulously destroying what was unmovable. Since none of that was possible for the images painted directly on stone walls, they instead machine-gunned the eyes and faces of Mary and Jesus, as well as a stone cross.”

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A Maaloula local defence soldier traces the 2013/14 battles on a map of the town. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

When I revisited in the summer of 2016, much had changed. The area was cleaned and stores had reopened. In September of 2013, I wrote about the point-blank assassinations of unarmed Maaloula citizens and of the defenders of Maaloula — locals who left their trades to take up arms in defense of their historic town and people. Not long after, invading terrorists, under the guise of anti-government rebels, assassinated an elderly man who had refused to leave his town.

wrote at the time:

On a street below, near the main square, a man and some children collected water from a spring. It was at that spring on September 17, 2013, that 65-year-old farmer Zaki Tabib was shot in his head by a terrorist sniper. Tabib was one of about fifteen mostly-elderly villagers who had refused to evacuate a week earlier.

Abdo Haddad, also one of Tabib’s nephews, commented on the stoicness of his uncle and men like him: ‘These old men are so pure in their heart that they don’t believe someone in their village would kill them.’”

Left bleeding on the street, Tabib was dead by the time his two courageous nephews braved a torrent of sniper fire to retrieve his body, in order to give him a proper burial.

On that 2016 visit, I also wrote about the destruction that still plagued the town:

Piles of rubble lay at many corners, and gaping holes in some walls remained evidence of the near total damage to the old part of the village. Although official estimates were that 80 percent of the homes were damaged, Abdo Haddad pointed out that “damage” in most cases means missing entire walls, and that in fact every house in the old quarter suffered damage, from mild to entire.

Many homes were boobytrapped by terrorists, to further kill and destroy. ‘They rigged houses so that when someone opened the door, an electrical trigger with a small charge would detonate and explode a gas canister,’ Haddad explained, saying that they could not count the number of rigged houses, maybe tens, maybe more: ‘The whole village was on fire. For the safety of the soldiers, in many cases the army had to blow the booby trap instead of defusing it.”

The church walls and dome roof of St. Thekla convent remained blackened with soot from the fires terrorists lit within. Local stonemasons stood on scaffolding, patiently rebuilding the thick walls in the traditional manner. Up the long staircase above the convent, the tomb in the cliffside grotto remained sooty black but was tidied up, with a few of the icons returned until complete restoration is possible. Other icons will never be returned — destroyed or stolen by the terrorist bandits, which occupied the convent.”

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Mikhael Taalab, Anton Taalab, and Serkis Zakhen, assassinated by terrorists on September 7, 2013. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

Upon my return to Maaloula on September 13, 2018, I stood on Abdo Haddad’s balcony looking out upon one of the town’s historic mountains. It was from these mountaintops that terrorists rolled explosive-stuffed tires onto the simple homes below. It was from these mountaintops that terrorist snipers killed Zaki Tabib.

On September 13, those mountaintops were adorned with the traditional brightly-lit crosses of the Festival of the Cross.

I attended mass in Maaloula’s Catholic church. The rituals of countless years continue, as do the devotion of Maaloula’s residents, with both clergy and congregation singing the mournful lyrics sung for centuries. This is the culture that Western-backed fanatics attempted to destroy.

Watch | Mass during Maaloula’s Festival of the Cross

From devotion to celebration

Immediately following the mass, the congregation quickly exited into the church square. By the time I arrived at the door, the exit was nearly impassable as so many people had amassed in the square. Pushing through, I saw the cause of the crowd: raised on the shoulders of residents, two men sang songs traditional to the Festival of the Cross, swigging frequently from plastic bottles of Arak in their hands. The crowd periodically cheered at their words, and eventually moved — cheering, singing — to the main square.

By the time I made it to the main square, it was likewise completely full of celebrants, many swigging Arak, cheering, singing traditional songs, and praising their army and president. Mini-Syrian flags abounded, as did people on balconies to watch the festive chaos. This went on for over an hour before crowds started moving up the mountains. Later, down in the town square, they were dancing.

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Crowds gather to in Maaloula Syria’s town square to celebrating the Festival of the Holy Cross. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

When I later made this arduous hike up often-challenging mountainside, it was nearing sunset. Strong, young Maaloula men were stationed at more difficult points of the mountain trail, pulling people up when necessary.

One such young man joined me to help me navigate the path, sometimes leading me down steep inclines on shortcuts to the top.

Reaching the top in darkness, the glare of multiple crosses and the blazing bonfire was enough illumination to see masses of people, mostly young but also elderly and families, standing and sitting perilously close to the mountain edge, overlooking the glowing village below.

Periodically, a burst of whirling light burst out, as people in the town square far below spun fire. Throughout the night, crowds sat drumming, singing, and watching the bonfire.

Watch | Devotees attend Maaloula’s Festival of the Holy Cross

I asked Abdo Haddad to summarize the importance of the Festival of the Cross. He said (video):

“Tonight we are celebrating the finding of the cross that happened 1700 years ago. This celebration is represented by putting fire on top of the mountains, from Jerusalem to Constantinople, to tell the people in Constantinople that the cross was found.

Maaloula is the only place in the world that is still celebrating this custom.

The only time that this custom stopped is when the so-called rebels and other “revolution” people in Syria invaded Maaloula, and instead of putting fire on top of the mountain, they put our houses on fire. But since we are sons and daughters of life, we kept on celebrating it since Maaloula was liberated by the Syrian army in 2014.

So we celebrate life now, and we celebrate the cross.

We were born here 3,000 years ago and we’ll keep existing until the end of time.”

In 2016, Syria’s First Lady, Mrs. Asma al-Assad, was interviewed by Russia 24. During that interview, she spoke of the struggles Syria has faced during its ancient existence. Particularly poignant, and fitting to end with, were these words:

“Syria comprises of land that has been continuously inhabited for a very long time. Over thousands of years, this soil has been exposed to dozens of wars and invasions. Some areas were completely destroyed. I know that Syria can and will rebuild itself. … As Syrians, we’ve always prevailed and this period in our history is no different. It is known or often said that Syria means ‘rising sun.’ And Syrians will rise again, that I can assure you.”

PULSE OF LIFE, SYRIA: DAMASCUS INTERNATIONAL FAIR, SYRIAN HERO WAR PHOTOGRAPHER

In Gaza

Back in Syria since late evening September 5, following are some updates, more in depth articles to follow.

At the fairgrounds for the 60th Damascus International Fair
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Last year’s fair was bombed by the “moderate” terrorists Western media  and talking heads support and whitewash. This year, with eastern Ghouta  and areas around Damascus liberated, the fair can go on, without worry  of bombings.
Regarding the mortar and missile terrorism Syrian  civilians were subject to for years, my 2014 article: The Terrorism We  Support in Syria: A First-hand Account of the Use of Mortars against  Civilians
At Damascus International Fair media centre, a display dedicated to remembering the brave, heroic, martyrs of Syrian media:
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While at the Fairgrounds on the evening of the opening events, I stopped into the media centre where I saw, in a flashback to what I saw in 2015, a memorial for martyred Syrian media workers/journalists.In October 2014, I wrote about martyred Syrian and allied journalists, noting:

“Why didn’t the August 2012 execution (which some reported as a beheading) of TV presenter Mohamed alSaeed, claimed by the Nusra gang, create the same outrage? Or the December 2013 kidnapping and point blank execution in Idlib by ISIS of Iraqi journalist Yasser al-Jumaili?

Why wasn’t the murder of Yara Abbas—a  journalist with al-Ikhbariaya, whose crew’s car was attacked by an  insurgent sniper—broadcast on Western television stations? Or that of  Lebanese cameraman for al-Mayadeen, Omar Abdel Qader, shot dead by an insurgent sniper on March 8, 2014 in eastern Syria.

Maya NaserAli AbbasHamza Hajj Hassan (Lebanese), MohamadMuntish(Lebanese), Halim Alou (Lebanese)…all  were media workers killed by the Western-backed insurgents in Syria.  Their deaths were reported by local media, some even got a passing  notice in corporate media, but none resulted in a media frenzy of horror  and condemnations as came with the alleged killings of Westerners.  Another at least 20 Arab journalists have been killed by NATO’s death  squads in Syria in the past few years.

The killing of 16 Palestinian journalists in  Gaza, at least 7 targeted while working, during the July/August 2014  Zionist Genocide of Gaza, also fell on deaf ears. Nor were the previous  years of murdering Palestinian journalists noted, let alone whipped into  a media frenzy. [see also: Silencing the PressSixteenth ReportDocumentation ofIsraeli Attacksagainst Media Personnel in the opt ]

In Syria, there are countless  civilians and Syrian soldiers who have been beheaded—and  in far more brutal and realistic manner than the SITE videos  insinuate—by the so-called “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA), al-Nusra,  Da’esh (ISIS), and hoards of other Western-backed mercenaries. At the  hands of the various NATO-gangs, tens of thousands more civilians have  been assassinated and subjected to various sadistic practices—torture,  mutilation, crucifixion, burning in ovens, throwing into wells, and a  sick lot more. Thousands more, including children and women, remain  missing after being kidnapped during mercenary raids and massacres…”

Thoughts on Damascus International Fair:

With my dear friend Vanessa Beeley and journalist Musa our thoughts at opening night of 60th Damascus International Fair, free of the terrorism which killed 6 people at last year’s fair.

Syrian MP Fares Shehabi on Damascus International Fair:

On September 6, the day of the opening of the 60th Damascus International Fair, I met Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi,  who spoke of the fair and fairs prior, noting that last year’s fair was  bombed by what the West dubs “moderate” terrorists, and that for 6  years the fair was not held at all, again due to the terrorists who were  surrounding Damascus.Fares Shehabi:

“The 59th fair,  last year, was in August. Those in eastern Ghouta, the so-called  ‘rebels’, al-Qaeda gangs, they targeted the entry of this fair and  killed some people, visitors and participants. One lady from old  Damascus, was killed, she was participating in this fair—she had a  clothing garment factory—and she was killed at the door, along with  three or four people.

Thank God the Syrian army liberated  eastern Ghouta and we don’t have any more terrorists there, and  everybody’s free now, and safe—that’s most important.”

“We expect  high participation from many countries and local firms. It’s about a  political statement, an economic statement, that we won this war and we  will win also the reconstruction war, and this is just one proof of it.”

This year, with eastern Ghouta and areas around Damascus liberated of terrorists, the fair can proceed in peace.

Syria continues to show the world what strength, resilience, humanity and love remain as ever in this beautiful nation.

60th Damascus International Fair: glimpses:

A compilation of a few visits to the fair, to give a taste of the pulse of life that thrives after the liberation of areas in and around Damascus of terrorists’ savage and brutal rule.

Syrian Hero: Wassim Issa:
Last May, after he was injured, I met a remarkable man whose work I had been following and sharing for a while: Wassim Issa (وسيم عيسى),  an inspiring and brave Syrian photographer whose photography and video  footage has moved many as he humanizes the soldiers of the Syrian Arab  Army as the heroic individuals and defenders of Syria that they are.
Yesterday, I saw Wassim again. Words can’t describe  the respect I have for his mind, his character, his strength, his  genuine and brave work for peace in Syria, his love for humanity.
Initially we just talked in general, but conversation drifted towards  his work as a photographer in the Syrian army. At one point, Wassim  mentioned last year’s fair, showing me a video of himself and 11  colleagues, going to the fair, a break from their position in Ain Tarma,  eastern Ghouta. The video shows them interacting with civilians, civilians praising them, thanking them for defending Syria.

Of the 12 soldiers, three have since been martyred and two have been seriously injured, losing their legs.

This year’s fair could not have happened without soldiers like Wassim Issa.
Like all Syrian soldiers, Wassim put his life on the line, for his country, he put his whole being into his work.

He talked about how he became a war photographer–his initiative, he  began with a small camera and began selling personal items to get better  equipment–and how his camera was lost the day he lost the lower parts  of his legs.
He told me: “I don’t need money, I don’t need a house, I just need peace for my country.”
I truly believe that thanks to Wassim and soldiers like him, and Syrian  civilians who support their country and their army, that peace will  return in the very near future.

Lavrov to US: Do not to ‘Play with Fire’ in Syria

Local Editor

Russia’s foreign minister is the latest official to warn the US against using a possible chemical weapons provocation to justify a new strike against Syrian forces. He said Moscow warned the West not to play with fire in Syria.

Sergei Lavrov reiterated the warning that a staged chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province may trigger a US-led attack on the forces loyal to Damascus.

“A new provocation is being prepared by the West to hamper the anti-terrorist operation in Idlib,” Lavrov said during a joint media conference with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem. “We have facts on the table and have issued a strong warning to our Western partners through our Defense Ministry and our Foreign Ministry not to play with fire.”

Earlier, the Russian military reported that a group of terrorists in Syria was preparing a provocation, in which chlorine gas would be used to frame the Syrian government forces. The incident would be used by the US and its allies to justify a new attack against the country, similar to what happened in April, according to the claim.

Amid international tensions, Russia has launched a massive naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, which involves 25 ships and 30 aircraft, including Tu-160 strategic bombers.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

Moallem: Syria’s Decision is to Combat Al-Nusra Terrorists

Local Editor

Syrian Minister Walid Moallem said on Thursday that Syria’s decision is to combat Al-Nusra terrorists in Idlib, whatever the sacrifices were, but the priority is for of local reconciliations, warning against “the stupidity of committing a new Western aggression on Syria.”

“Moscow has recently been the center of regional contacts on Syria and we exchanged views on the outcome of these contacts and our views were identical, so I can say that these talks are constructive and positive.” Moallem added at a joint press conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We and the Russian Federation have been partners in countering terrorism and have fulfilled great field achievements and we are now close to end this terrorism. Naturally, we should think about Syria’s reconstruction program and our friends in the Russian Federation have the priority in contributing to this program,” Moallem added.

He further added: “We are on the way to achieve security and stability for our people in Syria. We cannot forget the practices of the countries that have been plotting against us from seven years and till now in obstructing us from eliminating terrorism.”

The head of the Syrian diplomacy pointed out that when the Syrian Arab Army liberated the city of Douma and the Eastern Ghouta from terrorism, Washington and its allies invoked the use of chemicals and launched aggression against Syria last April. Now they are repeating the same scenario to prepare for a new aggression with the aim of saving al-Nusra and prolonging the crisis.

Al-Moallem affirmed that Syria will perform its legitimate right to defend itself, warning against the stupidity of committing a new Western aggression on the Syrian people because its repercussions will affect the political process inevitably.

“The decision of the Syrian leadership is to combat Jabhat al-Nusra in Idleb, whatever the sacrifices were. We say that the priority is for the local reconciliations which we have carried out in several areas across Syria. We are ready to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We opened Abu al-Dahour corridor for a week and interacted with the local reconciliation committees. Unfortunately al-Nusra arrested most of the members of these committees and prevented civilians from exiting via that corridor,” al-Moallem noted.

“We discussed the issue of our joint efforts to bring the displaced Syrians back to their country. We say to the West, who is crying for human rights in Syria, if you really want to help the return of the displaced, you should make efforts to secure the reconstruction of their homes and infrastructure and lift the unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria,” he added.

“We welcome and call on the Syrian citizens to return home and contribute to programs of reconstruction and be part of building future… and we will try to provide all economic and social conditions for that purpose,” al-Moallem said.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

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BOLTON CALLS ON AL-QAEDA TO STAGE MORE CHEMICAL ATTACKS IN SYRIA

August 24, 2018, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

In a move that was entirely predictable, the US administration is once again threatening to bomb Syria if there is a “chemical weapons attack”.

This was entirely predictable because that chemical attack script has been read out, with salty crocodile tears, fake concern, and mocked indignation by US talking heads over the years – since 2012, in fact, when former US President Obama himself drew his red line on Syria.

The latest script-reader to toe the chemical hoax line is President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who on August 22, stated: “…if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.”

Beyond the tattered veil of moral superiority that is US war propaganda, Bolton’s words were clearly a very public command to Al-Qaeda and co-extremists to stage yet another fake chemical attack.

Bolton’s statement was preceded by an August 21 France-UK-US (FUKUS) joint statement, likewise threatening further illegal bombing of Syria if a chemical attack in Syria occurred (based on evidence the US never has nor needs to reveal).

Recall that the last time they acted on such a threat, in April 2018, the US and its interventionist allies didn’t even wait for the Douma lie to be exposed, let alone for any mythical evidence to materialize, before they illegally bombed Syria with 103 missiles. The bombings occurred before the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had a chance to visit the Douma sites in question.

It seems that FUKUS’ appetite for destroying Syria wasn’t satiated in April 2018, nor in the April 2017 bombings of Syria following unsubstantiated allegations around Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib.

Bolton’s assertions are backed by the usual suspects of the corporate media, fake human rights groups, “media activists”, and individuals linked to NATO’s Atlantic Council war propaganda think tank.

The over two decades-long dictator of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Ken Roth – who couldn’t even discern whether a video was Gaza’s Israeli-flattened Shuja’iyya or Syria when he tweeted about it being Aleppo in 2015 – is re-beating the Ghouta 2013 dead horse to scare would-be humanitarians around the world. The Western narrative of events in Ghouta been widely-discredited by journalists, and by the so-called “rebels” themselves.

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However, many people are rightly skeptical and disbelieving of the alarm cries, having seen this sort of song and dance before. The war propaganda heightened dramatically just prior to and during the liberation of eastern Aleppo and of eastern Ghouta, to name but two examples.

Indeed, the AFP’s Twitter thread on Bolton’s threat is filled with almost-exclusively mocking comments about replaying the false flag chemical attack scenario, and other overused, unbelievable war propaganda. Likewise on NBCNews’ video of Bolton making the threats.

Doing the job of corporate media, others continue to pose valuable questions about this latest outbreak of propaganda on chemical weapons attacks.

NATO war propagandists, not even slightly original

Chemical weapons accusations are among the most overused war propaganda tactics during the war on Syria. From late 2012 to April 2018, NATO’s mouthpieces have screamed bloody chlorine or sarin. But time and again, they’ve been revealed as intellectually-challenged, supremely-unoriginal liars, to put it politely. Less shrill voices have pointed out the many occasions where so-called “rebels” had access to sarin, control over a chlorine factory, and motives for an attack to occur, among other prudent points.

Some of the more loudly blasted claims were: March 2013, in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo; August 2013, in eastern Ghouta areas; April 2017, in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib; and April 2018, in Douma, eastern Ghouta.

Of the Khan al-Assal allegations, Carla Del Ponte, a lead member of the UNHRC commission of Inquiry, stated that it was “rebels” which used sarin, saying: “I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got… they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition.”

A Mint Press News journalist who went to the areas in question wrote of speaking to “rebels” and their family members who blamed Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar for sending them weapons they didn’t know were chemical weapons and didn’t know how to use.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote and spoke on the sarin allegations, noting (among many things) that, “the sarin that the Syria army has, has a different chemical component than the sarin that would be made by al-Nusra.”

Among the many questions journalists should have posed around the April 2017 Khan Sheikhoun allegations is the question of how we can trust any of the samples by the OPCW when clearly there was no chain of custody: the area is controlled by Al-Qaeda or groups affiliated, groups which have a vested interest in fudging results.

As noted in an article by Moon of Alabama, there is also a distinct lack of certainty around the Khan Sheikhoun accusations. The article further notes that in the OPCW report on Khan Sheikhoun, there are what they mildly dub as irregularities: the 57 cases of patients being admitted to hospitals before the alleged incident occurred, and the contradictory results of blood vs urine samples in “sarin victims”.

Following the April 2018 White House accusation that the Syrian government used sarin in Douma, and in spite of Damascus’ insistence on an OPCW investigation, FUKUS bombed Syria, including Damascus’ densely-inhabited Barzeh district, destroying a site which was involved in production of cancer treatment components, but not chemical weapons.

In Douma, medical staff said that patients had not shown symptoms of a chemical attack. Douma citizens likewise said there hadn’t been a chemical attack. Seventeen Douma civilians and medical staff testified this at the Hague. Corporate media snidely dismissed these testimonies.

The OPCW’s July 2018 interim report on Douma noted that in samples taken from alleged sites, no chemicals that are prohibited in the Chemical Weapons Convention were detected. The OPCW found traces of “chlorinated organic chemicals”, but not Sarin, as alleged by supposed expertEliot Higgins and the White House, among others.

Who benefits from these repeated allegations? Would the Syrian government truly have benefited had it perpetrated any of these alleged attacks? No. Would it have been logical for the Syrian president to have ordered such a chemical attack, knowing it would bring forward the wrath of Obama, Trump, and their allies? Do these allegations benefit the regime-change coalition? Yes.

In their recent briefing report on the Douma allegations, the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media analyzed the facts around the Douma allegations (and previous ones), the discrepancies around the official narratives, and the murky details behind experts bringing us “evidence”, including one expert with potential ties to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Factors which just might influence the official outcome of investigations.

Regarding the latest concerns by FUKUS about a chemical attack, I agree on one point: we should be concerned that there will be a new attack or staging thereof, but not by the Syrian government. As has happened so many times prior, a staged attack would be done by NATO’s tools in Syria.

In fact, Syrian media recently noted the likelihood that members of the White Helmets and Al-Qaeda in Syria recently transported shipments of barrels from a chlorine recycling factory near the Turkish border to terrorist-occupied areas of Idlib.

If true, indeed strange activities for a “neutral rescue” group, and a worrisome setting of the stage for a new round of accusations.

Obfuscating the legitimate fight against Al-Qaeda in Idlib

What Bolton, CNN, or any other mouthpieces of illegal intervention attempts in Syria are avoiding mentioning is the Al-Qaeda elephant in the room: the designated terrorist group, which now goes by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), dominates Idlib. HTS supposedly “cut” ties with Al-Qaeda but still maintains the same ideology.

Envoy for the US-led coalition (pretending to defeat ISIS), Brett McGurk, even deemed Idlib “the largest Al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11, tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri (current #Al-Qaedaleader) & this is a HUGE problem.”

Yet, CNN was just back in Idlib (having illegally entered, again), glossing over the Al-Qaeda factor, as predicted, and beginning, what will become, a nonstop stream of war propaganda focused on the city.

In fact, many on social media are predicting the recycled war propaganda memes we’ll be seeingmore of soon from the regime-change coalition, including “last hospitals”, Bana al-Abed 3.0 child twitter accounts (Bana 2.0 accounts were created during the liberation of eastern Ghouta), and the latest emotive hashtag #EyesOnIdlib.

Days ago, HTS’ Abu Mohammed al-Golani spoke against the surrender of armed groups in Idlib. Another “Syrian rebel” in Idlib, an Egyptian Al-Qaeda commander, threatened Syrians, who might be considering reconciliation, with crucifixion.

It’s not only terrorists who oppose reconciliation. Western governments find that concept a thorn in the side of their intervention project. Reconciliation has brought peace and stability to areas across Syria, most recently Daraa governorate. When I went to Daraa in May 2018, terrorist shells rained down. Now, after a combination of military operations and reconciliations throughout Daraa, calm reigns, as in eastern Ghouta and Aleppo prior.

Yet, every time the process is beginning in a new area, terrorists shell humanitarian corridors, and Western talking heads squeal about unverified “atrocities”, turning wilfully blind eyes to Al-Qaeda and affiliates in Syria, and demonizing the Syrian and Russian governments for fighting terrorism in Syria.

The FUKUS August 21 statement also read: “We implore those countries to recognize that the unchecked use of chemical weapons by any state presents an unacceptable security threat to all states.

I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in demanding the US and its allies be held accountable for their documented, unchecked and criminal use of chemical weapons on civilians around the world.

Related Links:

Eyes on Idlib: Syrian children robbed of innocence to act as mouthpieces for US coalition proxies, August 16, 2018, Vanessa Beeley

Briefing note: the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018, and other alleged chlorine attacks in Syria since 2014, by Paul McKeigue, Jake Mason, David Miller, Piers Robinson, Members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media

UN On Khan Sheikhoun – Victims Hospitalized BEFORE Claimed Incident Happened, October 29, 2017, Moon of Alabama

‘They know that we know they are liars, they keep lying’: West’s war propaganda on Ghouta crescendos, March 21, 2018, Eva Bartlett

Terrorist capabilities laid bare in an Eastern Ghouta chemical lab, March 16, 2018, Sharmine Narwani

Syrian civilians from ground zero expose chemical hoax, June 1, 2018, Eva Bartlett

The Women of Syria and Their Daily Resistance

*Marinella Correggia
Internationalist 360°

Woman from Quneitra in front of a mosaic in Damascus |Image © Marinella Correggia

The oriental fable “Appointment in Samarra”, of the soldier rushing away from his destiny of death while indeed rushing into this very destiny (it is the theme of the song Samarcanda by Roberto Vecchioni) seems well suited to what Om Ahmad is telling us. Robust, flowered scarf on her head and black dress, sitting on the cushions that serve as a sofa in the bare apartment rented in Masaken Barzeh district, she explains that her husband, an auto mechanic, and their three sons lived in Douma, the most Islamist area of Eastern Ghouta. “Over five years ago, while several formations of musallahin – armed Islamist groups – were coming to the area, we closed the house and came here to Damascus, where we had friends”.Her second child Rabee, now sixteen, is in a wheelchair. “One day, three years ago, he and my husband were in the mechanical workshop…. when it was hit by a missile that targeted Damascus, starting right from the area that we had left behind.” Rabee’s father died in the explosion, and the boy’s mangled legs had to be amputated.

Since then, they have survived with public and private aid and some work Ahmed, the first son, was able to find. Rabee is going to wear his artificial legs. With the prosthesis he can walk, but only the aided of a walker: the amputation occurred above the knees.

Ahmed shows us on the mobile phone their home in Douma and tells us “we were told it is now destroyed”, while his mother adds: “I have only one wish now: that my child can have the best prostheses”. It is probably the dream of 30,000 amputees of the war in Syria.

Mosaic and Doves in Damascus | Image © Marinella Correggia

But what think the women who remained throughout in Douma, as they have lived the last months of bitter clashes between the Syrian army on one side and the other Islamist configurations? Where do they live now, because so many bombed buildings are uninhabitable? Our visit to Douma with Sulaf Maki, who is a young Syrian-Sudanese film student engaged in interviewing women around the country, was too brief. We could not speak to the dark figures on the streets under a scorching sun, in black robes that covered their face, head, neck, shoulders, sometimes the eyes.

Women in Douma | Image © Marinella Correggia

Even the few nurses at a hospital did not want to talk, perhaps frightened by the camera. Perhaps many husbands and children of these mute figures were fighting with the Islamists. But now the government has reclaimed the area, and no one would admit this. Whoever is left would have agreed to lay down their arms in the so-called reconciliation agreement. Nevertheless, differences and mistrust remain.

Samar is among those 150,000-200,000 inhabitants (the million and a half before the war) to have never moved from eastern Ghouta, a large agricultural area. She lives in the town of Kafarbatna and is the wife of a farmer whose land has continued to produce fruit and vegetables and legumes during the war, while paying heavy bribes to the armed groups. Samar remembers the risks of the last months of the war: “There, there, they destroyed that building just across the street, it was occupied by musallahin, the air force bombed it. That day I had taken refuge in the basement, but we did not want to leave.” The Islamist groups that she calls “terrorist occupiers” left the population. “Once they left, it was discovered that they had warehouses full of food and medical aid that had arrived from outside Ghouta.” Now the people of the area and in the camps of the displaced have the same narrative, opposed to those who denounced a siege and indiscriminate shelling by the Syrian government. But in war the narrative is polarized.

For the video interview, Samar has worn the niqab, which leaves only the eyes visible. It is obvious to compare her to the woman behind the camera, Sulaf, who wears the hijab to cover the head and neck, over trousers and jacket, but who is entirely secular. “I wear the veil only because my mother forces me. But when I will be financially independent, I will remove it.”

Saudi-style women in Damascus | Image © Marinella Correggia

Sulaf disapproves of both the “Saudi-style” of the Douma women (but we saw one also in a street of Damascus!) and of those girls in Damascus who put the hijab on hyper-adherent T-shirts with padded underwear and leggings. Funny combinations! Also some women who do not even do Ramadan (religious fasting from dawn to dusk, one month a year) wear the hijab and long black overcoats (in summer). Like Sarah el Hawi, baker in the Jaramana district of Damascus. She tells us that her family left the Deir ez-Zor area years ago to escape the arriving Islamist groups.

The same is true for women from liberal political groups: Rabab Sweid of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and in the Rock al din neighborhood in the Damascus heights, along with five thousand Palestinians who fled Yarmouk camp over the years, long controlled first by Islamists and then by the Islamic state cells. “But it seems indiscreet to talk of her clothes. Perhaps she needs to be accepted in a traditional community,” notes the young agrarian economist, Dima Hasan, who in her spare time is a volunteer with the displaced people. Twenty-nine, black hair and modest clothing, Dima lives alone in Damascus, in a basement in Bab Tuma neighborhood, populated by many Christians. “I was born and raised in the region of Tartous, in a seaside village; my first and basically only contact with the Islamists were the missiles launched from Ghouta and Jobar against Damascus and my area here; they targeted us from 2012 until a few months ago.”

Dilma and a Palestinian woman in Damascus | Image © Marinella Correggia

But Dima is lucky. The war has impacted so many other women. Hayat Awad is the mother of a conscript killed years ago in Daraa. She lives in Homs. She accompanies us to the Khalidia neighborhood destroyed by the fighting, street dust on the black shirt and pants of her prolonged grief. We arrive in the street Share Zon, where the Jabour family returned home. They had left in February 2012, “because this building is on the corner of the so-called path of death, a kind of boundary between the Syria Army and the jihadists. See there the carcass of a tank exploded two days after our escape,” explained Norma and her daughter Victoria. The Jabour, for years displaced in the countryside, are now in the house of their grandparents, and are rebuilding the top of the house while camped on the ground floor. The roof is thankfully sound. They remember how suddenly the coexistence between Christian and Muslim neighbors was shattered. “Our house was later occupied by the musallahin, hence they were shooting at the army.” But now the family members are optimistic. Victoria studies pharmacy: “Syria was and will return to be a great producer of medicines with a good health service.”

Naham, student doctor at the pediatric hospital | Image © Marinella Correggia

The strength of women doggedly remaining in Syria is also seen in Naham, a medicine student recruit in a pediatric hospital because “at least 30% of the country’s doctors went abroad and those who are left must care for everyone.”

And what to say of Bushra Jawed, from Iraq’s Nasiriyah? Alone, in 2007, she left Iraq caught between the anvil of the US occupation and the hammer of growing Al Qaeda terrorism. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis indeed found refuge in the then quiet Damascus, in the Jaramana district where Bushra opened a small restaurant. After 2011, “this neighborhood has been targeted by terrorist missiles, I have seen people die,” she says calmly.

Bushra Jawed | Image © Marinella Correggia

Meantime, in the narrow road, a tanker supplies water to the buildings.

The road to normality is still long.

Hugo Chavez Street in Damascus | Image © Marinella Correggia

*First Appeared in Italisn in La Provincia and Ora Pro Siria
English Translation by Marinella Corregia and Alexandra Valiente

DECISION TO BRING WHITE HELMETS TO CANADA DANGEROUS AND CRIMINAL

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August 10, 2018, RT.com

by Eva Bartlett

Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? Highly unlikely.

Ninety-eight members of the White Helmets, and a few hundred of their families, were evacuated by Israel and allies to Jordan late in evening of July 21. They will seemingly be shipped off to a few Western nations for resettlement: Canada, the UK, and Germany. So far, Canada has pledged to take 50 White Helmets and around 200 family members.

Wrongly dubbed the “Syrian Civil Defense” (the actual Syrian Civil Defense has existed since 1953), the White Helmets narrative is flawed in every conceivable manner.

Packaged as neutral, heroic, volunteer rescuers, who have “saved 115,000 lives”, according toWhite Helmets leader Raed Al Saleh, they are in reality a massively Western-funded organization with salaried volunteers, and have no documentation of those 115,000 saved. They contain numerous members who have participated in or supported criminal acts in Syria, includingtorture, assassinations, beheading, and kidnapping of civilians, as well as inciting Western military intervention in Syria.

James LeMesurier, a former member of the British military who founded the White Helmets, did so in countries neighbouring Syria: in Turkey and Jordan. They have since worked solely in terrorist-held areas of Syria, and according to Syrian civilians in eastern Ghouta, they worked directly with, or were themselves, extremists of Jaysh al-Islam or other extremist groups. Civilians in east Aleppo said that White Helmets worked with al-Qaeda in Syria (the Nusra Front).

The fact that White Helmets centres are frequently, if not always, found near or next to headquarters of al-Qaeda and other terrorist factions further supports the accusations that they collaborate with terrorists—even with ISIS, as noted by ISIS hostage John Cantlie. He described the White helmets as an “ISIS fire brigade“.

White Helmets have also been at the scene of executions; filmed standing over dead Syrian soldiers; cheering on and cleaning up after an execution in Daraa Governorate, and disposing ofthe bodies of assassinated Syrian soldiers (including decapitated bodies) in Daraa Governorate.

White Helmets members were present to welcome Saudi terrorist Abdullah al-Muhaysini, leader of al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) who the US government designated a terrorist for “acting for or on behalf of” al-Nusra, and helping to finance them.

Over sixty White Helmets members have clear ties to terrorist and extremist groups, as shown bytheir own social media accounts and videos. In many of their own photos they hold weapons. Some White Helmets members have called for the murders of Shia villagers in Idlib governorate, and were instrumental in the massacre and injury of over 300 villagers, including 116 children in April 2017.

Not exactly neutral and members of the Daraa batch of White Helmets could very possibly be among those soon to be en route to Western nations.

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Not Russian propaganda: Canadian, American, British journalists first exposed the White Helmets

In September 2014, independent Canadian journalist Cory Morningstar wrote about the New York City PR firm, Purpose Inc, and its propaganda role regarding the White Helmets. In March andApril 2015, independent US journalist Rick Sterling, further scrutinized the White Helmets and related “humanitarian” groups serving to call for a no-fly-zone in Syria.

Since then, and for years now, concerned journalists and commentators have written or posed questions on the entity known as the White Helmets. In addition to the years-long investigations by Vanessa Beeley, commentators – from former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, award-winning US journalist Gareth Porter, award-winning journalist John Pilger, and even rock legendRoger Waters, have noted that the White Helmets are a dangerous and fraudulent group, or asPilger put it, a propaganda construct.

I have already outlined this chronology of investigations, refuting corporate media claims that voices critical of the White Helmets stem from Russian influence. Yet, slavish supporters of the White Helmets, continue to demonize anyone posing critical and needed questions on this group, generally labelling such people as “Russian bots”, “influenced by Russia”, or some variation of that, in an attempt to insist only people under the influence of Russia have been critical of the White Helmets.

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In the case of the Atlantic Council’s Ben Nimmo, his tweet on the lack of or scant mention by RT or Sputnik in 2014, 2015, to mid 2016 of the White Helmets supports my argument: those are precisely the times when the above-mentioned independent journalists were investigating the group.

White Helmets next to terrorists’ headquarters

In Syria, I saw two different White Helmets centres in close proximity to terrorists’ headquarters: one in eastern Aleppo, and one in Saqba, eastern Ghouta. The Saqba centre was two hundred metres from a factory extremists used to manufacture mortars and missiles, quite possibly those used to bomb civilians in Damascus.

It contained a fire-truck stolen from the real Syrian Civil Defense, as well as ambulances and vehicles all torched when the White Helmets left Ghouta with terrorists of Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, among others. They were all safely transported to Idlib as per the deal with the Syrian government.

The other White Helmets centre I saw was in the Ansari district of Aleppo’s east. Formerly a school (and now returned to this status), this centre was a half minute’s walk to the headquarters of al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as the Abu Amara Brigades, and other extremists.

Vanessa Beeley, who had previously been to Ansari, wrote a detailed article additionally noting that just 200 metres from that same White Helmets centre was Al Mashad Square, where 12-year-old Palestinian youth, Abdullah Issa, was savagely tortured and then slowly beheaded.

In the Old City, next to Aleppo’s citadel last May, I spoke with an older man who had remained in Aleppo during the terrorists’ rule. He told me: “The Civil Defence is supposed to rescue people, but they used to steal women’s earrings from their dead bodies. If she was wearing gold, they’d cut her hand to steal it. They are thieves, not rescuers. We saw them murdering people, many times.

In Douma and Kafr Batna, I spoke with civilians who told me they saw Jaysh al-Islam extremists wearing White Helmets uniforms, and White Helmets working with Jaysh al-Islam. Another eastern Ghouta resident, Marwan Qreisheh, said the early White Helmets members who came to Ghouta weren’t Syrian, didn’t speak Arabic, and used their money to attract “volunteers”.

He spoke of them staging rescue scenes: “They’d start filming and claiming that SAA hit this area, it was in front of our eyes, and we knew it was all staged, but we didn’t dare to stand against them because they would kill us, they would empty their gun in you immediately.

Who killed the civilians in White Helmets Douma videos?

It was the White Helmets who released (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) videos and photosalleging a chemical attack in Douma in April 2018. Yet, no civilian among the many I met in Douma believed there had been a chemical attack and medical staff didn’t see patients exposed to a chemical agent. More recently, the OPCW ruled out the use of a nerve agent used in Douma, finding only traces of “chlorinated organic chemicals”.

So, who and what killed the women and children shown in the White Helmets-distributed video from Douma? Did the White Helmets take part in their murder, or merely film their bodies (somearranged) after the fact?

Corporate media has diligently avoided asking a single honest question of the propaganda group they laud, and has for years attacked those of us who do ask questions and take testimonies of Syrian civilians on this matter.

Canadian cover for White Helmets

Canada has been assisting the White Helmets for some years now, under the pretext of aiding humanitarians. While the full extent of Canadian financial support to the White Helmets has yet to be revealed, at least Can$7.5 million (US$5.7mn) was given to the group, helping with “the development and expansion of early warning air raid systems.

Following the Israeli evacuation of White Helmets and their families from southern Syria, Global Affairs Canada released a statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, on the “courageous volunteers”, regurgitating the White Helmets “save the innocent and the wounded” unsubstantiated claim.

Unsubstantiated because, in spite of the fancy videos, neither the White Helmets nor its UK backers can provide a list of the supposed over 115,000 civilians rescued.

While the media has lauded Canada’s role in the evacuation of the White Helmets members, it’s worth noting the person, Robin Wettlaufer, behind this evacuation effort. Wettlaufer met withWhite Helmet leader Raed Saleh (once denied entry to the US due to his potential ties to extremists, according to Mark Toner) in late June, as the Syrian army was regaining territory in Daraa governorate.

Wettlaufer has held the Istanbul-based position of Special Representative for Syria, under  Global Affairs Canada, from March 2014 to present, according to her LinkedIn page.

In fact, she is the Special Representative to the Syrian Opposition, something noted in a December 2016 Global Affairs Canada video featuring Wettlaufer.

Given that Wettlaufer is thus Canada’s Representative to extremists in Syria, her key role in instigating the evacuation of the White Helmets is hardly surprising, let alone praise-worthy. But it should be worrying to Canadians. Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. No vote in the Parliament, no public discussion. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? No sign of that so far, and indeed highly unlikely.

Why did the Canadian government refuse the entry of 100 injured Palestinian children from Gaza in 2014, a truly humanitarian effort, and yet will fast-track the entry of potentially dangerous men with potential ties to terrorists?

As for the claims of danger to the White Helmets in southern Syria, their comrades in eastern Aleppo and in eastern Ghouta were safely transported out of those areas, along with their families and with extremists who refused to take amnesty, while Aleppo and eastern Ghouta had peace restored. The White Helmets are potential security threats to citizens in the Western nations planning on hosting them.

As citizens privy to all this information and all the questions on the White Helmets, we must demand our governments reverse this plan, or at least provide us with confirmation that the immigrants in question have been fully investigated and have not been involved in terrorist activities in Syria in any way.

RELATED LINKS:

SYRIA: AVAAZ, PURPOSE & THE ART OF SELLING HATE FOR EMPIRE, September 17, 2014, Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green

Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators: White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone, April 9, 2015, Rick Sterling, Dissident Voice

Humanitarians for War on Syria, March 31, 2015, Rick Sterling, Counter Punch

EXCLUSIVE: The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters, September 23, 2016, Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

The White Helmets Files, variety of articles including especially the investigations of Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

A Flawed UN Investigation on Syria, March 11, 2017, Gareth Porter, Consortium News

JOHN PILGER: “WHITE HELMETS ARE A COMPLETE PROPAGANDA CONSTRUCT IN SYRIA”, May 24, 2017, RT.com, (exact clip here)

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria, January 6, 2018, Eva Bartlett, Global Research

LAST MEN IN ALEPPO: Al Qaeda Presented as ‘White Helmets’ for the Annual Terrorist ‘Oscar’ Nomination, January 28, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

Ex-Pink Floyd singer denounces White Helmets as propaganda tool during Barcelona concert (VIDEO), April 16, 2018, RT.com

Torture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule,  June 10, 2018, Eva Bartlett, RT.com

‘Propaganda organization’: White Helmets ‘engage in anti-Assad activities’ – author Sy Hersh to RT, June 30, 2018, RT.com

Whitewashing the White Helmets – Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria Responds to UK Government Statement, July 23, 2018, 21st Century Wire

White Helmets coming ‘home’: West & Israel provide ‘exceptional’ rescue strategy for NATO’s ghosts, July 26, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, RT.com

نقاط على الحروف ماذا يعني تجاهل سورية عرض نتنياهو؟

يوليو 10, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– ما إن وضعت الحرب في الغوطة أوزارها ورسمت مشهد سورية الجديد حتى دخلت القيادات والإعلام في كيان الاحتلال في خطاب سياسي إعلامي جديد. واضح أنه مدروس ومنسّق، وواضح أنه يشكل خلاصة قراءة المسار الافتراضي المقبل لسورية. مسار لا مكان فيه لأوهام تغيير موازين القوى. مسار ستكون اليد العليا فيه للدولة السورية وجيشها ورئيسها. مسار لا تنفع معه المكابرة والإنكار لجهة مصير مشروع الحرب على سورية وإصابته بالفشل، والخطاب الجديد يقوم على ثلاثية، ركيزتها الأولى إشهار هذا الاعتراف بالحقيقة السورية، حقيقة تدحرج الانتصارات السورية واستحالة صدّها، وركيزتها الثانية إعلان الاستعداد للعودة إلى تفاهم فك الاشتباك الموقع عام 1974 والذي أسقطته «إسرائيل» علناً وعمداً لاستبداله بخطّتها الجاهزة لبناء حزام أمني، بالتعاون مع تنظيم القاعدة بفرعها السوري المسمّى جبهة النصرة، كقوة صلبة متماسكة عقائدية تراهن «إسرائيل» على صناعة استقرار حدودي لعقود بوجودها، وتشكل درعا قلبها بعد طول استثمار على التلاعب بأوراق الجنوب السوري بشراكة إسرائيلية سعودية قطرية أميركية بريطانية كتب عنها الكثير وسيكتب عنها أكثر. أما الركيزة الثالثة فكانت ربط مشروع تسوية تنتهي بانتشار الجيش السوري بالتراضي في الجنوب باشتراط يتراوح بين الانسحاب الكامل لإيران وحزب الله من سورية، والانسحاب من الجنوب بعمق يتراوح بين 25 و40 كلم. وحده الأدنى عدم مواكبة الجيش السوري في المناطق التي سيدخلها بموجب التسوية بوحدات من حزب الله أو من إيران.

– تزامن وتكثف الحراك الإسرائيلي مع محاولات عسكرية واضحة لتصعيد الغارات، والتهديدات المعلنة والمحددة باستهداف الحضور الإيراني وتسليح حزب الله، وبلغة سقفها أعلى بكثير مما كشفته المواجهات المتراكمة عبر سنوات الحرب السورية، من حدود القدرة الإسرائيلية، بصورة أراد قادة الكيان فيها استعارة الأسلوب السوري في الذهاب إلى حافة الهاوية تفاوضياً، تحت شعار إما قبول العرض المفتوح أو المواجهة المفتوحة. ومع تجاهل الدولة السورية كلياً للعرض الإسرائيلي، رغم تبنيه أميركياً ودمج الانسحاب من القاعدة الأميركية في التنف كجزء من العرض، إدراكاً بأن الوظيفة الجوهرية للوجود الأميركي تندرج تحت عنوان تخديم مشروع الأمن الإسرائيلي، وارتضاء ضمني لمعادلة ستشكل نموذجاً قابلاً للتكرار في الشمال السوري، وسعياً للحصول على شراكة روسية في تفعيل الخيار التفاوضي تحت هذا العنوان. وبقيت الدولة السورية تتحدّث بلغتها الخاصة عن مفهوم التسويات التقليدي وهي تتقدّم نحو الجنوب بحشودها، من دون ذكر ما يتصل بجواب ترصد «إسرائيل» بين السطور لقراءة أي إشارة، حول مستقبل الوضع على الحدود بعد انتشار الجيش السوري وزوال أيّ دور للجماعات المسلّحة. وعندما مرّ من الوقت ما يكفي لمنح فرص القبول بشروط التسوية من الجماعات المسلحة، بدأ الهجوم العسكري السوري، غير آبه بتهديدات علنية أميركية صادرة عن وزارة الدفاع تحذّر من هزّ الوضع في الجنوب السوري.

– جاءت الانتصارات المبهرة بسرعتها ونوعيتها، لصالح الجيش السوري، واصل الإسرائيليون خطتهم المثلثة، الاعتراف بالنصر السوري، وربط تسهيل انتشار الجيش السوري بعدم مشاركة حزب الله والإيرانيين. وخرج رئيس حكومة الاحتلال هذه المرة يجدد العرض بالعودة لاتفاق فك الاشتباك، لكن سورية لم تعلّق ولم تقل كيف ستتصرّف عندما تصل حدود الجولان، وتقف وجهاً لوجه مع قوات الاحتلال، لكن الإشارة الوحيدة التي قدّمتها سورية، هي مشاركة حزب الله والقوات الرديفة التي يقودها مستشارون إيرانيون في معارك الجنوب إلى جانب الجيش السوري. وفي ظل دعم روسي ناري توقع الأميركيون والإسرائيليون غيابه في جبهة الجنوب. وخابت آمالهم كما في كل مرة يقرّر الجيش السوري روزنامة معركة تحرير جديدة. وجاءت الغارة الإسرائيلية على مطار التيفور وردّت سورية، وربما تتكرر الغارات ويتكرّر الرد ويكون أشدّ وأقوى. وقد بات واضحاً أن سورية تتقصّد الغموض تجاه مستقبل جبهة الجولان.

– سيبقى الإسرائيليون والأميركيون على أعصابهم وقتاً طويلاً لمعرفة ماذا تريد سورية. فربما يكون للتجاهل سبب مباشر يتصل بالبعد السيادي لمفهوم الدولة السورية، حيث لا يمكن القبول بإخضاع انتشار الجيش السوري في الجغرافيا السورية بمساومات وشروط تجعل «إسرائيل» شريكاً في أمن جزء من سورية، وشريكاً في بسط السيادة السورية. وتصرّ سورية على المضي بالعمل العسكري وصولاً لحدود الجولان لاسترداد السيادة بقرار سوري وقدرة سورية، وعلى الآخرين، وخصوصاً «إسرائيل» إما المواجهة أو الانكفاء، ولكن ماذا لو لم تقل سورية شيئاً حتى بعد بلوغ حدود الجولان؟ عندها على «إسرائيل» أن تنتظر أيضاً. فربما يكون للاستمرار في التجاهل سبب سيادي آخر لا يقل أهمية، وهو أن بعض الجغرافيا السورية لا يزال محتلاً في الشمال، ولن تلتفت سورية لبحث مستقبل التفاهمات الحدودية إلا بزوال كل العبث الحدودي أميركياً كان أم تركياً، وخصوصاً إسرائيلياً. لكن ماذا لو أنهت سورية بسط سيطرتها شمالاً وواصلت التجاهل، هنا على الإسرائيليين أن يبدأوا بالقلق، لأنه ربما تكون سورية قد قرّرت أن تضع مصير الجولان المحتل على الطاولة قبل الذهاب لخطة إعادة الإعمار، توفيراً لخسائر الحروب على العمران واستثماراً للحال المادية والمعنوية والتسليحية والميدانية للجيش والحلفاء، وطالما أن «إسرائيل» هي مَن أسقط فك الاشتباك، فالبحث عن بديل يقوم على المعطيات الجديدة يرتبط بحسم وضع الاحتلال في الجولان.

– يذهب دونالد ترامب إلى هلسنكي حاملاً هذه الأسئلة والهموم الإسرائيلية. فهل يصير انسحاب إيران وحزب الله من سورية مرتبطاً بانسحاب «إسرائيل» من الجولان، في زمن السعي الإسرائيلي للحصول على اعتراف أميركي بضمّه أسوة بالقدس؟ فلا تبقى معادلة ربط وجود إيران وحزب الله بالانسحاب الأميركي من سورية وإنهاء العبث بالجغرافيا السورية عبر بوابات الحدود فقط. فهذه فواتير ستستحق تباعاً مع التقدم السوري جنوباً وانتقاله إلى الشمال. فهل تقرّر أميركا و»إسرائيل» المواجهة التي تمّ تفاديها في ظروف أفضل أم تفضلان الانكفاء لصالح عملية سياسية ترعاها روسيا، بهزيمة تحفظ بعضاً قليلاً من ماء الوجه، وارتضاء بعض القلق بدلاً من كثير من الذعر؟

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BELLINGCAT & ATLANTIC COUNCIL JOIN TO AWARD EXPLOITED SYRIAN CHILD & AMERICAN MASS MURDERER

alabed_terror

-by Eva Bartlett

June 28, 2018, RT.com

Just when we thought the over-used Bana al-Abed story was in the war propaganda dustbin, the wonder-child theme has again been re-hashed, this time by the Atlantic Council.

The so-called “think tank” recently highlighted the nine-year old at a conference that also included former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

Bana, the child presented to the world in late 2016 as tweeting from eastern Aleppo about wanting peace, Russia being bad, Assad being bad, etcetera, became colonial media’s darling, the perfect cover for war propaganda. We are told that Bana al-Abed has written a memoir. She has attended galas, met the Turkish president, and hobnobbed with movie stars and UN officials. Now, the girl has been trotted out on stage to receive an award from the Atlantic Council. 

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Damaged buildings in the Syrian city of Raqa. © Delil souleiman / AFP

Critical-thinkers aren’t fooled by the Bana story. As I wrote earlier:

Critiques on Amazon reveal that thinking people aren’t buying brand Bana, in spite of her UN appearance and rehearsed speech about children dying from bombs and hunger (which the United Nations retweeted, as all good neutral and credible institutions might).”

That her father was a member of a terrorist organization in Aleppo and worked in a Sharia Court has been documented, as has her family’s close proximity to numerous terrorist headquarters in their area of Aleppo alone.

But still, her official story is dragged on, endlessly.

Last April, after the world declared, with zero evidence, that Syria had used a toxic chemical on civilians in Douma, when Syrians testified to the contrary, Western leaders and corporate media labeled giving their testimony as a “masquerade,” “obscene.” They ignored the words of 11-year-old Hassan Diab from Douma. They ignored numerous reports of independent journalists whose reporting from Douma corroborate the testimonies. These people, corporate media tell us, are not to be believed.

Yet, as I wrote earlier“Corporate media and Western leaders had no issues with the credibility of Bana, who was living surrounded by 25 terrorist cells in her district alone.”

Screenshot from 2018-06-26 09-05-30

What is the Atlantic Council?

Is the Atlantic Council some benevolent organization handing out awards to do-gooding people?

No. It’s a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things. One of its Syria “experts” is none other than Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, who recently took to social media to tell people to suck his “big balls,” making him more of a laughing stock than this backgrounder on the man with no qualifications to his title.

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Some of the Atlantic Council’s funders include: the US State Department, oil and weapons manufacturing companies, banks, NATO, various nations’ ministries of defence, and the US Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy.

Even just based on funding alone, and ignoring their pro-NATO policy papers, the Atlantic Council clearly exists to further the interests of those involved in weapons manufacturing, wars, and oil.

‘Banging’: Bellingcat’s interview with Bana

In her interview with Bellingcat, Bana seems more natural than in her early 2017 “save, save the children of Syria”interview (her reply to what kind of food she liked). This time, she can answer basic ‘how are you’ questions. Her replies are met with“cool, cool, cool,” and “banging,” by Bellingcat’s Nick Waters.

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© Thaer Mohammed

After the chit-chat, Bana begins what is clearly a scripted soliloquy, staring forward, possibly concentrating on repeating what is likely being transmitted to her ear, speaking about children and war, destroyed schools, and of course not ever mentioning the terrorists who surrounded her home and occupied schools as headquarters, nor that her own father was a terrorist.

It is a transparently unauthentic recitation, with Bana continually pausing mid-sentence, presumably to hear the rest of what she is told to say. After two and a half minutes of this cringeworthy monologue, she breaks into song, singing “We shall overcome.”

When later receiving her Atlantic Council “Freedom Award,” she gives another rehearsed speech, again halting mid-sentence throughout her five minutes of talking.

These theatrical performances, hosted and encouraged by the Atlantic Council and Bellingcat, epitomize the depth that the NATO alliance is willing to stoop to, grasping desperately at legitimacy in their transparent war propaganda.

It was not only a shameful, but an embarrassing, fail for the Atlantic Council. As of two days later, there isn’t a single positive comment on the Youtube video of her interview. To the contrary, comments speak of child abuse, war propaganda, and that the girl is likely being fed her lines by an earpiece.

On the Atlantic Council’s Youtube channel, comments are disabled for Bana’s award speech.

Failed Sherlocks accuse a non-bot of being a troll

The DFRLab is a project of the Atlantic Council, ostensibly to identify those prolific (Russian) bots and trolls out there.

On June 22, Atlantic Council CEO and President Fred Kempe tweeted:

“Checking in at the 360 / OS #DigitalSherlocks! The @DFRLab team is working together with activists and journalists from all around the world to enhance our ability to identify trolls in the web spreading disinformation and fake news that pollute our open societies.”

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The author with Douma residents © Eva Bartlett

The second photo in the tweet identifies three Twitter accounts as possible “trolls”: @Malinka1102, @ian56789, and @bowhunter_va.

One of the accused, @Malinka1102, tweeted about her preference for privacy and not being subjected to witch-hunts and harassment.

Having myself been a target of endless harassment and smear campaigns, I can appreciate her concerns, some of which are also included in a book by Phil Butler.

In fact, a new article by Ben Nimmo—who previously targeted @ian56789 as a “Russian bot” (an accusation revealed to be baseless when Ian gave a live Sky News interview, revealing himself to be concerned British man)—now targets a number of twitter profiles as “trolls”, including yours truly.

So basically, people who challenge the State Department, sorry, Atlantic Council, Human Rights Watch, and all the other arms of the US and UK governments on their war propaganda are not thinking people with consciences, they are just “trolls”. That’s what DFRLab wants you to believe.

Atlantic Council awards its own war propaganda

On awarding Bana al-Abed, the Atlantic Council tweeted about her humanizing the “Syrian civil war.”

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Oh, the irony. The exploited child’s Twitter account has called for World War Three, has whitewashed Al-Qaeda and indeed Bana’s own father Ghassan, a terrorist with the Safwa Brigade.

bana_alabed_holocaust_aleppo

The irony of also awarding Madeleine Albright — known for her lack of remorse over the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of sanctions — was not lost on people.

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Every new Bana production mocks the children in Syria who are actually starving — like those in Ghouta when under terrorist rule, those when under terrorist rule in eastern Aleppo, in Madaya, in al-Waer — and who are being maimed or murdered by terrorist bombings.

The Atlantic Council and Bellingcat are guilty of war propaganda. As @ian56789 wrote to me in a message:

“The members of the Atlantic Council and DFRLab should be indicted as accomplices to War Crimes, for providing actual material support to al-Qaeda terrorists, and for Treason (actively supporting official enemies of the US & UK). They should be spending the rest of their lives in jail and fined every penny they’ve got.”

And those abusing and exploiting Bana al-Abed in their ongoing war propaganda should join them.

MORE THAN 9,200 LOCALS FROM EASTERN GHOUTA JOINED SYRIAN ARMY SO FAR

South Front

30.05.2018

More Than 9,200 Locals From Eastern Ghouta Joined Syrian Army So Far

FILE IMAGE

More than 9,200 locals from the Eastern Ghouta region have joined the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and several pro-government armed groups since the liberation of the region on April 14, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on May 30.

The SOHR said that most of the locals who joined the SAA are from the districts of Duma, Hammuriyah, Irbin, Jisreen, Kafr Batna, Hazzah, Misraba, Saqba and Madeira. The source added that a part of these locals are former fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who had defected from their groups during or even before the SAA military operation in the Eastern Ghouta region.

The evacuation agreement between Jaysh al-Islam and Damascus gave 18-42 y.o. men there a six-month period to reconcile and join the SAA, if they have not completed their mandatory service. However, it appears that the majority of locals had joined the SAA and pro-government forces before the end of this period.

Earlier this month, the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Damascus Voice said that more than 4,000 locals of the Eastern Ghouta region joined the SAA. This indicates that the number of locals who opted to join the SAA doubled during the last three weeks.

This drastic increase in the number of its personnel allowed the SAA to demobilize soldiers for the first time since the beginning of the Syrian war. Around 10,000 SAA soldiers will be discharged from military services on June 1, according to Syrian pro-government sources.

Daraa… for sure…Idlib and Raqqa درعا… حتماً… وإدلب والرقة

Daraa… for sure…Idlib and Raqqa

مايو 29, 2018

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Since the liberation of Aleppo, as a prominent event that changed the equations of the war in Syria at the beginning of the term of the US President Donald Trump, the US politics along with its most prominent ally the Saudi entity and the occupation entity focused on obstructing the course of liberation in the light of the recognition of the inability to impose a counter course that retakes the lead and wages the war of changing geography at the expense of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. Despite the media support which given to the American-Israeli strikes along with diplomatic campaign and media exaggeration it can only be classified strategically as an attempt to affect the  path that is progressing clearly; which is the restoration of the Syrian geography by the Syrian Arab army and a complete support of allies.

The talk about qualitative strikes targeted the Iranian presence in Syria or the presence of Hezbollah is as the talk about qualitative strikes that targeted the structure of the Syrian army and its air defenses or about Russian-Iranian disputes or Syrian-Russian disputes must be verified, checked, and tested; In other words, will the projects of liberation for restoring further geography continue, or is the static to put the north and south border lines under the ceiling of an equation of the seek for an understanding with Washington and meeting its conditions,  because the progress in the projects of liberation is impossible in the most difficult areas with less power, in other words it is impossible to achieve the liberation  if the force of the Syrian Arb army and its Russian and Iranian allies was not at its best and at the highest levels of coordination, integration,  and determination to wage the most brutal battles.

The importance of the American statement that warns the Syrian army from waging the battle of Daraa is that implicitly it recognizes the failure of the project of obstructing the course of liberation which started from Aleppo a year and a half ago, and thus the failure of the military strikes and the diplomatic pressures, including the seeking to confuse the relations between the parts of the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance as well as the American withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear understanding in achieving the goal, as the importance of the statement issued by the Russian reconciliation Center for Syria in Hmeimim Air Base about the end of the work agreement to reduce the escalation in the southern Syria unless the withdrawal of Al Nusra front from there. The parties of the agreement in the south are Russia, America, Jordan, and Israel implicitly. The statement is an announcement of the preparation of Daraa battle unless meeting the withdrawal of Al Nusra, and thus recalling the scenario of the start of Al Ghouta battle which many bet on the non-participation of Russia, but it was the widest and the most sever participation despite the international clatter.

On the northern front there is something similar politically and militarily. Sochi Summit which brought together the President Vladimir Putin and the President Bashar Al-Assad has led to  a clear equation that targets the Turkish position entitled an open partnership in the political process with new spirit entitled the recognition of a pivotal role of the Syrian state, its president and its army versus Turkish withdrawal at the rhythm of the progress of the political process otherwise the Turkish presence is illegitimate foreign occupation that must be eradicated immediately. The standard of the Turkish convergence is political and military through facilitating the joining of the armed groups affiliated to Turkey to the political solution towards the participation in a unified government under the leadership of the President Al-Assad.  While militarily, through the withdrawal of these groups out of the international road from Hama to Aleppo,  handing them over to the Syrian Arab Army and securing the opening of the Damascus-Bab Al Hawa road. This is the meaning of the equation of the political solution that paves the way for the withdrawal of the foreign forces. While in the north-east front the active military movement in Badia and the surrounding of Deir Al Zour indicates to a daily harsh confrontation between the Syrian Arab Army and the American forces that protects the units of ISIS and takes the armed Kurdish groups as a pretext of its operations. This preparation in the north paves the way for moving to a crucial political military action after the Turkish test in the north-west and after the achievement in the south.

Daraa will be the destination surely but how? The answer depends on the American-Jordanian- Israeli considerations, so either to take an initiative to end the presence of the armed groups in Daraa, to put it voluntarily under the control of the Syrian Arab Army, and to secure the opening of the Syrian-Jordanian borders or the Syrian army will start its crucial battle, so everyone has to bear the consequences, the evening of the rockets on Golan is an example if they try to obstruct.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

درعا… حتماً… وإدلب والرقة

مايو 28, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– منذ تحرير حلب، كحدث بارز غيّر معادلات الحرب في سورية في بداية ولاية الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، تركّزت السياسة الأميركية ومعها حليفاها الأبرز الكيان السعودي وكيان الاحتلال، على إعاقة مسار التحرير، في ظلّ التسليم بالعجز عن فرض مسار معاكس باستعادة زمام المبادرة وخوض حرب تغيّر الجغرافيا على حساب الجيش العربي السوري وحلفائه مجدّداً. ورغم كلّ الزخم الإعلامي الذي منح للضربات الأميركية والإسرائيلية وما رافقها من جلبة دبلوماسية وضجيج إعلامي، لا يمكن تصنيفها استراتيجياً إلا كمحاولة مشاغبة على مسار واضح يتقدّم، وهو استعادة الجيش السوري بدعم كامل من الحلفاء للجغرافيا السورية.

– الحديث عن ضربات نوعية استهدفت الحضور الإيراني في سورية، أو وجود حزب الله، كالحديث عن ضربات نوعية أصابت بنية الجيش السوري ودفاعاته الجوية، أو عن خلافات روسية إيرانية، أو روسية سورية، يجد اختباره في نهاية المطاف وفحص صدقيته وقيمته في مكان واحد صالح للصرف: هو هل ستتواصل بعد كلّ ذلك مشاريع التحرير للمزيد من الجغرافيا، أم أنّ الستاتيكو الذي يضع الشريطين الحدوديّين الشمالي والجنوبي تحت سقف معادلة السعي للتفاهم مع واشنطن وتلبية شروطها، لأنّ التقدّم في مشروع التحرير مستحيل في المناطق الأصعب بقوة أقلّ، أيّ أنه مستحيل ما لم تكن قوة الجيش السوري وحلفائه الروسي والإيراني والمقاومة في أحسن حال وأعلى مستويات التنسيق والتكامل والعزم على خوض المعارك الأشدّ قسوة إلى جانبه.

– أهمية التصريح الأميركي الذي يحذّر الجيش السوري من خوض معركة درعا، أنّه يعترف ضمناً بفشل مشروع إعاقة مسار التحرير، الذي بدأ من حلب قبل عام ونصف العام. وبالتالي فشل الضربات العسكرية والضغوط الدبلوماسية، بما فيها السعي لإرباك العلاقات بين أطراف الحلف الروسي الإيراني السوري، وفي قلبها الانسحاب الأميركي من التفاهم النووي الإيراني، في تحقيق هذا الهدف، وكذلك أهمية التصريح الصادر عن غرفة المصالحة الروسية في حميميم عن انتهاء العمل باتفاق خفض التصعيد في جنوب سورية، ما لم يتمّ سحب جبهة النصرة من هناك، والاتفاق في الجنوب أطرافه روسيا وأميركا والأردن و»إسرائيل» ضمناً. والتصريح إعلان عن التحضير لمعركة درعا ما لم تتمّ تلبية شرط سحب النصرة، وفي ذلك استعادة لسيناريو لبدء معركة الغوطة، التي راهن كثيرون على عدم مشاركة روسيا بخوضها، فكانت المشاركة الأوسع والأقسى رغم كلّ الضجيج الدولي.

– على الجبهة الشمالية يحدث شيء مماثل سياسياً وعسكرياً، فقمّة سوتشي التي جمعت الرئيسين فلاديمير بوتين وبشار الأسد خرجت بمعادلة واضحة الاستهداف للموقف التركي، عنوانها باب مفتوح للشراكة في العملية السياسية بروحية جديدة، عنوانها التسليم بدور محوري للدولة السورية ورئيسها وجيشها، مقابل جدولة انسحاب تركي على إيقاع تقدّم العملية السياسية، وإلا فالوجود التركي احتلال أجنبي غير شرعي وجب أن ينسحب فوراً، ومعيار التجاوب التركي سياسي وعسكري، بتسهيل ضمّ الجماعات المسلحة المحسوبة على تركيا لهذا المفهوم الواقعي للحلّ السياسي، وصولاً للمشاركة بحكومة موحّدة في ظلّ الرئيس الأسد، وعسكرياً بسحب هذه الجماعات إلى خارج الطريق الدولي من حماة إلى حلب وتسليمه للجيش السوري، وتأمين فتح طريق دمشق باب الهوا. وهذا معنى معادلة الحلّ السياسي يمهّد لانسحاب القوات الأجنبية، بينما على الضفة الموازية في الشمال الشرقي تشير الحركة العسكرية النشطة في البادية ومحيط دير الزور، إلى مواجهة قاسية ويومية بين الجيش السوري والقوات الأميركية التي توفر الحماية لوحدات داعش هناك، وتتخذ من الجماعات الكردية المسلحة واجهة لعملياتها، وهذا التحضير شمالاً يمهّد للانتقال لعمل سياسي عسكري حاسم بعد الاختبار التركي في الشمال الغربي وبعد الإنجاز جنوباً.

– درعا حتماً وحكماً، لكن كيف؟ الجواب يتوقف على الحسابات الأميركية الأردنية الإسرائيلية، فما لم يتمّ التقدّم بمبادرة تنهي وجود الجماعات المسلحة في مدينة درعا وتضعها طوعاً بتصرّف الجيش العربي السوري وتؤمّن فتح الحدود الأردنية السورية، وإلا فالجيش السوري سيبدأ معركته الفاصلة، وأمام الآخرين تحمّل العواقب، ولهم في ليلة صواريخ الجولان مثال إذا حاولوا الإعاقة.

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دمشق حرّة حرّة

مايو 22, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– خلال سبع سنوات مضت كان كلّ ما يجري خارج دمشق في كفة وما يجري في دمشق وحولها وعلى الطرقات التي تربطها بمدن سورية ومحافظاتها في كفة أخرى. فمحافظتا دمشق وريف دمشق تشكلان معاً قلب سورية الجغرافي والسياسي والاقتصادي والسكاني والعسكري، ويكاد يكون لكلّ ما جرى خارج هذا القلب وظيفة الاستنزاف لتشتيت قدرات الدولة السورية وجيشها وأجهزة أمنها وحلفائها، كي يتمّ الحفاظ على البنى القادرة على الإرباك في دمشق وريفها. ففي دمشق وما حولها من ريف ومن أطراف حمص إلى أطراف درعا إلى الحدود اللبنانية والعراقية والأردنية والفلسطينية، تتشكّل هذه البقعة التي يتقرّر منها مستقبل سورية.

– منذ تحرير الغوطة بدا أنّ ساعة تحرير الجيوب المحيطة بدمشق أو المنغرزة في قلبها قد دقّت، وأنّ العبث بعناوين مثل مخيم اليرموك، والتقرّب من مقامات دينية كمقام السيدة زينب، لتزخيم ألاعيب الفتن، قد انتهى زمانه، وأنّ الجيش العربي السوري بات قادراً وجاهزاً، ولديه القرار الحاسم لإنهاء هذه اللعبة التي أريدَ لها أن تقتل ما يمكن من السوريين وأن تستنزف ما تستطيع من مقدراتهم وأعصابهم وأرواحهم ودمائهم وأرزاقهم، وأن تشيع حالة الحرب في كلّ أحيائهم، وأن تسقط فكرة الدولة وقدرتها في عاصمتها وفي عيون أهلها، فلا يتبقى منها سوى هيكل عظمي بلا روح، مهما كان هذا الهيكل قوياً.

– يربط كثيرون التصعيد الأميركي والإسرائيلي والسعودي بحسابات ومعادلات إقليمية، وكثيرون يحاولون القول إنّ القضية هي قضية الوجود الإيراني ودور حزب الله، ومستقبل التسويات في سورية. وهذا كله فيه جانب من الحقيقة، لكن الحقيقة الأهمّ هو أنّ التأثير على قدرة الجيش السوري وقراره وتماسك جبهة حلفائه لتأخير وتعطيل قرار إعلان دمشق وريفها مناطق خالية بالكامل من الإرهاب، يبقى الهدف الأهمّ، ووحده يفسّر معنى أنّ كلّ الاستهداف الذي طال مواقع الجيش السوري وحلفائه قد تركز في هذه البقعة من الجغرافيا السورية، منذ حرب الغوطة، فالعدوان الذي قادته واشنطن ومثله الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية كانت جزءاً عضوياً من الحرب التي تخوضها جماعات تتلاقى على العداء لمشروع الدولة السورية، تضمّ داعش والنصرة وجيش الإسلام وبقايا الجماعات الأخرى المسماة بالمعارضة المسلحة، والمرتبطة عضوياً بقرار أميركي سعودي إسرائيلي.

– لا ينفصل الإنجاز التاريخي عما سبقه ومهّد له بالتأكيد، لكن نكهة الإعلان عن الإنجاز تبقى مميّزة، فبمثل ما كان معلوماً أنّ هذه اللحظة قادمة مع تهاوي قلاع الإرهاب في القلمون الشرقي بعد الغوطة، كان للإعلان بالإنجاز قيمة منفصلة رغم التوقّع، ولذلك كما منح نصر الغوطة لهذا الإنجاز نكهته، يمنح هذا الإنجاز هو الآخر لإعلان قمة الرئيسين الروسي فلاديمير بوتين والسوري بشار الأسد نكهة أخرى، فيصير الحديث عن فرصة متاحة لدعوة مَن يريد الالتحاق بعملية سياسية بات معلوماً أنّ سقفها حكومة موحّدة في ظلّ الرئيس الأسد تضع دستوراً جديداً وتمهّد للانتخابات، حديثاً واقعياً، كما يصير السؤال عن مستقبل القوات الأجنبية التي تدّعي ربط مصيرها بالتسوية السياسية، سؤالاً مشروعاً.

– اليوم بمثل ما يستطيع السوريون الهتاف بصوت عالٍ، دمشق عادت حرّة، يستطيعون الاستعداد لمرحلة جديدة تقودها دولتهم في السياسة كما في الميدان، والعنوان، سورية موحّدة بجيش واحد هو الجيش العربي السوري ورئيس واحد هو الرئيس بشار الأسد، ولا مكان لاحتلال ولا لانفصال، مهما كانت عوامل التمويه والتورية، زمن يبدأ وزمن ينتهي، وقد وجب أخذ العلم.

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