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

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