GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT (AGAIN): UN REPORT ON ALLEGED RUSSIAN ‘WAR CRIMES’ IN SYRIA IS BASED ON ‘WE SAY SO’ & UNNAMED SOURCES

March 7, 2020, RT.com

A UN-mandated report, which accuses Russia of war crimes in Syria, heavily relies on anonymous sources and lacks evidence, but also smacks of deliberate disinformation that is halting the eradication of terrorism in Idlib.

Earlier this week, the The Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the Syrian Arab Republic released a report largely lambasting Syria and Russia in their fight against terrorism in Syria. Corporate media were quick to echo allegations of Russian “war crimes” in Syria, all while diminishing the crimes of terrorist groups against Syrian civilians and soldiers.

The report does passingly acknowledge that Syria, Russia and allies are fighting “armed opposition groups, including Hay’at Tahrir” (al-Qaeda); the rest of the document reads mainly as a litany of accusations against Syria and Russia.

In the “mandate and methodology” section, the report notes that its information is based on “233 interviews conducted in the region and from Geneva” as well as from governments, NGOs, and UN reports.

So a report based on testimonies taken in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or by phone, is again negating the masses of Syrians in Syria who would like their truths to be heard, the terrorism they have endured to be known.

I scoured the 24 pages of the report, but even in the annexes I could find no transparent and credible sources, only the following vague terms repeatedly referred-to: Witnesses, civilians, NGO, rescuers, medical teams, first responders, flight spotters, and early warning observers.

As Western media has largely focused on two accusations of Russian war crimes, I’ll address these here.

Russia War Crime – Accusation One

The first of two major accusations against Russia is of conducting airstrikes on Marat al-Numan, Idlib, on July 22, 2019, allegedly killing 43 civilians and targeting a market.

Details for this claim are provided by the unnamed sources mentioned above. Quite possibly, information was also provided by the usual suspects, like the one-man (Rami), UK-based “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” and the terrorist-affiliated White Helmets fake rescue group, which, by 2020, should need no introduction.

The commission refers to flight spotters, “civilians who monitor aircraft flights to provide…advance warning prior to an air strike.”

But who are these civilians? Do they use the early-warning radar systems like those provided to the White Helmets? Are they neutral observers? Or the usual sources embedded with terrorists that we are meant to believe as credible?

The report claims it had obtained “satellite imagery, video footage and photos” regarding the alleged airstrikes. Yet none are included in the report.

It claims it “obtained flight communication intercepts conducted in the Russian language.” 

How did it supposedly obtain these intercepts? How do they know they are authentic? How do we know, since the alleged intercepts are not shared in the report?

Russia has emphasized that “Russian aviation was not used in this area on July 22 and did not fly there.”

Russian Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy noted that reconnaissance two days after the alleged attacks showed, “the allegedly destroyed market is completely intact and functions as usual.”

Given that Syria is surveilled by the intelligence services of the US, Israel, and Turkey, is it really plausible that Russia would be so careless as to broadcast their moves over airways?

So, for claim number one, we are presented with a number of unnamed sources. There is no transparency as to who these sources are, what their allegiances are (civilians or members of al-Qaeda or other armed groups in that area) and no visual evidence presented.

Just the words of the commission. Trust them.

Journalist and blogger Vanessa Beeley, who was last week in Marat al-Numan, told me “I can categorically say that the White Helmet centers in Marat al Numan were next door to Nusra Front, as always.”

Keep that in mind when watching their dramatic footage of the alleged July 22 attacks.

Accusation Number Two

The second claim concerns a Russian airstrike on a refugee compound near Haas, Idlib, on August 16, 2019, allegedly killing 20 people.

The commission’s segment on this accusation is long, with details about why people came to live in that compound, on the agricultural fields surrounding the area, that children played in summer in an open area of the compound, and that there was a kindergarten and schools, and also a prayer room!

All this detail paints a very intimate picture: we can imagine the setting and the subsequent horrors.

But whereas the report is quite long on such details, it is scant on one rather important thing: evidence.

It relays what purported events took place, but again gives no specifics on who the cited sources are or on why they should be credible, given that Idlib is under the control of al-Qaeda.

Having myself looked into previous anti-Syria war propaganda, including articles by the New York Times, I have found that, time and again, sources cited inevitably display allegiance to terrorist groups.

For claim number two, the report again refers to intercepted communications “in the Russian language,” a claim which stands against that of Russia’s Defense Ministry on its pilots’ communication policies.

Again, no supporting visuals are included in the report.

In fact, in the entire 24 pages, a sole photo is provided: a detailed map of Syria.

We are simply meant to take the word of the commission.

It’s possible that the UN commission also relied on the report of Human Rights Watch. However, that report is also replete with anonymous sources and devoid of names and evidence.

Based on all of these vague points, the UN commission concluded “reasonable grounds to believe” the guilt of Russia having committed war crimes.

Since when do we need more than that, right?  Think WMD Iraq

Commission’s Track Record of War-Crime Reports

You would imagine since the commission’s mandate is to report all war crimes in Syria since 2011, it would be replete with massacres committed by terrorists, including the incessant beheadings, rapings, public executions, torture, the underground prisons (including under hospitals), the caging of civilians and use of them as human shields.

Scrolling through the commission’s archives, one finds only reports echoing the war propaganda popular at any given time, vilifying the main parties fighting al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and other terrorists in Syria: Syria and Russia.

The latest report covers the period from July 2019 to January 2020. Yet, while briefly admitting the presence of al-Qaeda in Idlib, the report does not highlight the terror of civilians targeted by al-Qaeda & co in areas they control, something which colleagues and myself have done.

And nowhere could I find reports of the terrorist bombings of civilians in Aleppo city, which have occurred routinely, long since the liberation in late 2016 of Aleppo City until only recently, when Aleppo’s countryside was restored to peace, all to the silence of corporate media.

Accusations of war crimes are a serious matter, requiring solid, transparent, evidence. From what the UN has presented, there is no clear evidence. Instead, there is a lot of “we say so,” and otherwise a reliance on sources and witnesses not named and quite possibly al-Qaeda-affiliated. In what court of law would such sources be considered acceptable?

The UN, US, and Western media play a guilty-until-proven-innocent game when it comes to their accusations against Syria and Russia. But it is they who have proven time-and-again to be guilty of war propaganda and of whitewashing terrorism in Syria.

Related:

‘Sorry, but it’s fake…again’: Russian military debunk NYT report on bombing of civilians in Syria, December 3, 2019

Excerpt:

“On Sunday, the leading US newspaper came up with a heartbreaking story of a housing complex for families displaced by the Syrian conflict being bombed in what the Times called a Russian airstrike in August. The journalists then stated that they were able to trace the air raid back to the Russian Air Force using “eyewitness photos and videos,” and claimed to have a trove of flight logs and cockpit tapes.

…Responding to the accusations on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry has highlighted flaws in the report – perhaps the most glaring of which is that Russian pilots neither receive commands, nor report on their mission mid-flight, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov argued.

“As frustrating as it can be for the masterminds behind this fake, but we have to say it once again: passing of coordinates to Russian bomber pilots and reports on task execution are not made by voice openly on air”

In fact, it is not the first time the Russian military has refuted claims that appeared in America’s newspaper of record. The Defense Ministry issued a similar correction following another damning piece by the same outlet in October. That story accused Russia of bombing UN-protected hospitals, some of which turned out to be militant hideouts tucked away in caves in the Idlib province. Konashenkov also questioned other evidence presented in the Times’ latest report, calling it “primitive and ill-defined” and adding that “In Russia, it is called a shot in the dark.”

INTERVIEW ON GEORGE GALLOWAY’S THE MOTHER OF ALL TALKSHOWS

In London for a new round of Imperialism On Trial (February 25, info here), I was on George Galloway’s The Mother Of All Talkshows Sunday night to discuss Syria.

George gives an excellent introduction on the nature of systematic, paid-for, organized, deliberate, war propaganda on Syria, to deceive people and whitewash the nature of the heinous, criminal, actions of the terrorists dubbed by the west as “rebels” who have beheaded children, among other crimes.

He kindly points out that I and others who have been telling the truth on Syria are being vindicated on a daily basis.

During the interview, I noted the media portrayal of what is happening in Syria (incessant demonization of Syria and Russia), and that Syria has a legal right to fight terrorism, and an obligation to the Syrian people to do so. 

Later, I came across an article eloquently outlining this perfectly. Author Stephen Gowans, in his recent article on Idlib, wrote (excerpts):

Erdogan wanted to run Idlib through his Al Qaeda proxies to gain leverage in order to shape the outcome of post-conflict talks on a new political arrangement for Syria. [6] This would allow him to further his Islamist agenda in a neighboring country—he had taken numerous steps to Islamize his own country—and to acquire profit-making opportunities in Syria for Turkish business people.

Erdogan’s plans were soon brought to fruition. By February, 2018, Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the US campaign against ISIS, could call Idlib “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” [7] The veteran foreign affairs correspondent Robert Fisk would refer to the Syrian province as a territory teeming with “the Islamist fighters of Isis, Nusrah, al-Qaeda and their fellow jihadists.” [8] In September, 2019 The New York Times’ Eric Schmitt said that Idlib province contained “a witch’s brew of violent Islamic extremist groups, dominated by the larger Qaeda-linked organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front.” [9] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would control 99 percent of Idlib and surrounding areas. [10], creating what Cockburn dubbed an “al-Qaeda-run mini-state” [11]—behind which sat Erdogan, on the Sultan’s throne.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Al Qaeda are one and the same. After undergoing a previous rebranding as Jabhat al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch morphed once again, this time into HTS. As the Syrian delegate to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, explained to the UN Security Council in May,

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham … is the Al-Nusra Front, which itself is part of Al-Qaida in the Levant, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Iraq, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Therefore, we are all talking about Al-Qaida, regardless of its different names; all are designated by the [UN Security] Council as terrorist entities. [12]

The Washington Post described Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as “an extremist Islamist group that began as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and has tried to rebrand itself several times during the war.” [13] The New York Times says Hayat Tahrir al-Sham “is affiliated with Al Qaeda,” [14] while The Wall Street Journal lists the group as “a branch of al Qaeda.” [15]

But of Western mainstream journalists, Cockburn perhaps describes the group best. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, he wrote in early 2019, is “a powerful breakaway faction from Isis which founded the group under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra in 2011 and with whom it shares the same fanatical beliefs and military tactics. Its leaders wear suicide vests studded with metal balls just like their Isis equivalents.” [16]

“In September 2018, Russia and Turkey brokered a cease-fire agreement for Idlib to forestall a military offensive,” explained The Wall Street Journal. “The deal required that” Al Qaeda fighters “withdraw from a demilitarized buffer zone along the front line.” [21] Rather than withdrawing, Al Qaeda expanded areas under its control. [22] while continuing to carry on its fight against the Syrian military. The jihadists attacked Syrian army positions, targeted the Russian airbase at Khmeimim, and shelled towns and villages, “killing civilians and forcing more than 10,000 to flee,” according to the United Nations. [23] Turkey stood by while its proxies violated the cease-fire, failing “to meet its commitment to disarm” its fighters. [24]

In response, the Syrian army, backed by its Russian and Iranian allies, launched an offensive to liberate Idlib. It has done this because Al Qaeda’s attacks have never stopped and because the government of Syria has an obligation to protect its citizens and control its own territory.

When Ja’afari addressed the Security Council in May he asked:

When will it be recognized that the right we are exercising is the same right others have exercised in confronting terrorist attacks against the Bataclan theatre and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, as well as terrorist acts in Niece, London, Boston and other cities? The terrorists that members have confronted in their own countries were not equipped with Turkish rocket launchers and tanks. [25]

Apart from glossing over such inconvenient facts as the true character of the “armed opposition” and Erdogan’s connection to it, the US news media have failed to address a number of key questions.

First, is it legitimate for a government to use force to recover territory occupied by an armed enemy, even if the use of force endangers civilians or sparks their flight? If the answer is no, then the Allies acted illegitimately during World War II in liberating Europe from Nazi occupation, for their project was impossible without endangering some civilians and creating refugees.

Moreover, if civilian casualties and their displacement were acceptable consequences of US forces taking Raqqa from ISIS—the US defense secretary at the time, James Mattis responded to concerns about the effect of the US siege on civilians by noting that “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation” [26]—how is it that they are an unacceptable in the case of Syrian forces liberating Idlib from Al Qaeda?

A still more basic question is, Is it acceptable to respond in force to attacks from an enemy? The answer is obvious, which may be why it is never asked, for if asked, Syrian military operations against continued Al Qaeda attacks would have to be accepted as legitimate, rather than falsely portrayed as acts of aggression against Syrian civilians.

Third, is Turkey’s presence on Syrian soil legitimate? The answer is categorically in the negative. The invasion of Syria by Turkey and the occupation of part of Syrian territory by Turkish forces is no different in law, politics, or morality than the Nazi invasion of Poland, France, the low countries, the Soviet Union, and so on. It is clearly illegal, and an affront to the ‘rules-based international order’ to which the United, Turkey, and other NATO countries so conspicuously and hypocritically profess allegiance. The invasion and occupation have been carried out in defense of Turkey’s Al Qaeda proxy, and to advance the interests of Turks and Islamists against the interests of Syrians and secularists. Erdogan is no hero, but a villain, whose hands are as maculated by the blood of Al Qaeda’s Syrian victims as are those of his Al Qaeda proxies.

Finally, what are the costs of Al Qaeda’s continued rule over three million Syrians in Idlib? Are they greater than the costs in civilian casualties and displacement of bringing that rule to an end? The US news media have been generally supportive of the immense costs in blood and treasure Washington has incurred to wage its war on Al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. While noting the civilian cost of driving ISIS from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the US news media have never denounced the US war on ISIS as a humanitarian horror story, a term it uses to denounce Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. Instead, ISIS itself is portrayed as a humanitarian horror story, and efforts to undermine and defeat it are welcomed. This should be true too of Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. It is Al Qaeda that is the humanitarian horror story and it is the actions of the Syrian military in undermining and defeating it that ought to be welcomed and met with approbation.

The Syrian military advance to recover Idlib and liberate it from Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization which has imposed a harsh regime of religious intolerance and Islamist despotism on three million Syrians, has not been welcomed by the US news media. Although the campaign is praiseworthy on multiple levels—it recovers national territory held by proxies of a foreign aggressor, and aims to liberate millions of people who have been tyrannized by a rule imposed on them by an organization made up of thousands of foreign fighters—US media, betraying their commitment to US geopolitical agendas, portray the commendable as indefensible. We ought to applaud the actions of the Syrian military, along with those of its Russian and Iranian allies, not deplore them. These actions are blows against reaction, oppression, and foreign aggression, and in defense of democracy on an international level, as well as in the furtherance of the welfare of the Syrian people.

RELATED LINKS:

Words of former special envoy, Brett McGurk

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over 

En route to Abu al-Duhour, Idlib (VIDEO)

American Journalist Killed in Turkey for Revealing the Truth Regarding ISIS-Daesh (Serena Shim)

Liberate Idlib and Syria: The Martyred of Mhardeh Speak Through the Ones They’ve Left Behind

Aleppo City’s Countryside Fully Secured, Syrians in Aleppo Celebrate The End of Terrorism

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on improved life in Aleppo since liberation (June 2017 VIDEO)

CNN recycles 2018 lies as 2020 lies on Syria

Eastern Ghouta rebuilding

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse

Under Fire from Ukraine and Misperceived by the West, The People of the DPR Share Their Stories

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva K Bartlett Patreon

ALEPPO CITY’S COUNTRYSIDE FULLY SECURED, SYRIANS IN ALEPPO CELEBRATE THE END OF TERRORISM

Ibrahim Mohammadon Sunday

For the first time since 19-07-2012
#Aleppo city is free of terrorism

#Syriab_Arab_Army 🇸🇾✌🏻💪🏻❤️

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In December 2016, the Syrian Arab Army, Russia & allies liberated the northern Syrian city of Aleppo of the al-Qaeda and equally-heinous terrorists who had occupied and terrorized civilians in the city since 2012.

In the years subsequent, Aleppo to a large degree returned to peace, with rebuilding occurring in the hard-hit Old City, with displaced Syrians returning (contrary to the lies of UK Channel 4, among other war propagandizing media).

Yet, civilians since that Aleppo’s liberation continued to be terrorized by the presence of terrorists in the countryside of Aleppo.

Last year (January 2019), visiting Aleppo, I returned to the Lairamoun industrial district in the city’s west. I had been there in November 2016, had seen the nightmarish underground prison of the Free Syrian Army, used to hold Syrian soldiers and civilians alike, a true dungeon replete with suffocating solitary confinement cells.

In January 2019, I went to a factory 500 metres from al-Qaeda snipers. Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi explained to me how the factory owner and workers defied the existence of terrorists at close proximity and re-opened the textile factory.  As he spoke, he took me to a door which, when opening, exposed us to potential sniper fire–the sniper fire the courageous factory workers were exposed to.

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Al-Qaeda stronghold near Lairamoun, Aleppo, 400 to 500 metres from textile factory

Shehabi’s powerful words include:

“This factory is on a front line in the war against terror. 400 to 500 metres away, the Tajik Brigades of the Islamic Turkistan Army, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

This factory was rubble two years ago. We rehabilitated it. We are doing this as a message of defiance against all who conspired against the people of Aleppo, against the economy of Syria. The enemy was sniping at us , launching mortars, when we were fixing this factory to work again.

Show me one place in the world with a production situation like this, a factory being rehabilitated under these circumstances.

This is why they out us under sanctions, this is why they consider us enemies.

How can I be an enemy of freedom and democracy if I want our people to work, to make money, my country to have a production economy, and I don’t yield to al-Qaeda gangs in close proximity to me.

…imagine the difficult situation in which these heroes, the factory workers and owners, had to go through in order to defy al-Nusra and defy Turkey, and rise up again from the ashes. This is a real example of how you rise up, undefeated.”

Eva Karene Bartlettabout 12 months ago

After filming Fares Shehabi / Faris Shihabi speaking powerfully about the courage and resilience of a Lairamoun factory owner and its workers 100s metres from al Qaeda snipers,
[see: https://www.facebook.com/EvaBoBeeva/posts/2344877145522266 ]

Firas Darwish explained some terrorist graffiti left on the outside of the factory: a terrorist sniper nicknamed Abu Mohammed, proud of head shots. …See More

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Fares Shehabion Sunday

هكذا كانت #حلب في أسوأ ايامها عام ٢٠١٣..!

عشنا في حصار كامل في كل شيء و فقدنا اكثر من ١١ الف شهيد مدني و ٦٠ الف جريح و لم نستسلم و لم نتخاذل و لم نفقد الامل للحظة لا في أنفسنا و لا في جيشنا و لا في قائدنا..!

اليوم نعيش حلم اصبح حقيقة..نعيش معجزة صنعها هذا الجيش الجبار و الذي لولاه لكنا جميعاً في خبر كان.. …See More

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In November 2016 I wrote of the terrorism Aleppo civilians experienced that month and in prior months:

My article on the November 3 terrorist attacks noted:

On the afternoon of Nov. 3, after meeting with Dr. Mohammed Batikh, director of Al-Razi Hospital, the victims of terror attacks which had begun a few hours prior began to arrive one after another, maimed and critically injured. The vehicle bombings and bombardment of Grad missiles, among other attacks, left 18 people dead and more than 200 injured, according to Dr. Zaher Hajo, the head of forensic medicine at Al-Razi Hospital.

The body of a civilian who was killed in the Nov. 3 attacks in Aleppo. Nov. 3, 2016. (Photo: Eva Bartlett)

The corridors and emergency ward at Al-Razi Hospital, one of two state-run hospitals in Aleppo, quickly became clogged with the injured and grieving family members. In one crowded interior corridor, one of the wounded screamed out in pain: “Ya, Allah! Ya, Allah!”

In another corridor, a 15-year-old boy with a cast on one leg and bandages on his head, said the mortar attack which injured him had killed his 4-year-old cousin and left his 6-year-old cousin with critical injuries.

In a front room, a mother wailed for her son who had suffered severe injuries. She screamed and pleaded for someone to save him, her only son. Not long after, though, the news came in: the 26-year-old had died. Her son, a doctor, was not the first medical professional to die in terrorists’ routine bombings of Aleppo neighborhoods.

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Dr. Nabil Antaki, a gastroenterologist from Aleppo, with whom I met on my trips to Aleppo in July and August, messaged me in October about his friend and colleague, Dr. Omar, who was injured on Oct. 6 when terrorist factions unleashed an attack on Jamiliye Street, killing 10 people. Just a few days after the attack, Dr. Omar, too, died.

At the morgue behind Al-Razi Hospital on Nov. 3, inconsolable family members leaned against the wall or sat on the pavement, coming to grips with the deaths of loved ones.

One 14-year-old boy had been there on Nov. 2, when his father was killed. On Nov. 3, he returned when his mother was killed. Both of this boy’s parents are dead, both killed in terrorist attacks on the city’s New Aleppo district.

A man spoke of a 10-year-old nephew who was shot in the head by a terrorist sniper while the boy was on his roof.

A woman and her children leaned against an iron rail next to the door to the morgue, weeping over the death of her husband, their father, who was killed while parking a car. When the man’s mother arrived, she collapsed, shrieking in grief.

The body of a civilian who was killed in the Nov. 3 attacks in Aleppo.

And in the midst of all of this, all these women and children, a car arrived at the morgue with the body of yet another victim of the day’s terror attacks, Mohammed Majd Darwish, 74. His upper body was so bloody that it was unclear whether he had been decapitated.

Near the morgue, Bashir Shehadeh, a man in his forties, said his family had been displaced already from Jisr al-Shughour, a city in Idlib. His mother, some of his friends, and his cousin have been killed by terrorist factions’ shellings. He said enough was enough, and called on the SAA to eliminate the terrorist threat.

Al-Razi’s Dr. Batikh said a private hospital, Al-Rajaa, was hit by a mortar attack. “They cannot do operations now, the operating room is out of service.”

One of the most notable attacks on hospitals was the December 2013 double truck bombing of Al-Kindi Hospital, the largest and best cancer treatment hospital in the Middle East. I have previously reported on other attacks on hospitals in Aleppo, including the May 3 rocket attack which gutted Al-Dabeet, a maternity hospital, killing three women. On Sept. 10, Dr. Antaki messaged me:

Yesterday, a rocket, sent by the terrorists, hit a maternity hospital in Aleppo in Muhafazat Street. Two persons working in the hospital were injured. No death. But the point is that it is a hospital and it was hit by a rocket.”

Dr. Batikh and Dr. Mazen Rahmoun, deputy director of Al-Razi, said the hospital once had 68 ambulances, but now there are only six. The rest, they said, were either stolen by terrorist factions or destroyed.

Aleppo’s doctors continue to treat the daily influx of injured and ill patients in spite of the dearth of ambulances and effects of Western sanctions which mean a lack of medical equipment, replacement parts, and medicine for critical illnesses like cancer.

According to the hospital’s head forensic medicine, Dr. Hajo, in the last five years, 10,750 civilians have been killed in Aleppo, 40 percent of whom were women and children. In the past year alone, 328 children have been killed by terrorist shelling in Aleppo, and 45 children were killed by terrorist snipers.

Humanitarian Crossings: Shelling of Castello Road

Less than 100 metres away, the second of two mortars fired by terrorist factions less than 1 km from Castello Road on Nov. 4. The road and humanitarian corridor were targeted at least six times that day by terrorist factions. Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: Eva Bartlett)

On Nov. 4, prior to our 9:30 a.m. arrival at the Bustan al-Qasr crossing and until our departure an hour later, no one had been able to cross from the area just beyond crossing, which is occupied by Jaysh al-Fatah militants.

Two weeks prior to our arrival, journalists had reported that terrorist factions heavily shelled the crossing and areas around it starting in the early morning.

A Syrian general at the crossing confirmed that shelling had taken place on Oct. 20, adding that three police officers had been wounded. A journalist in the delegation asked the general what he would say to Syrian civilians like Bashir Shehadeh, who demanded that the SAA eliminate the terrorist factions.

“We need to be patient, because the civilians there are not able to leave, they are not guilty,” the general replied. “We don’t work the way that the terrorists work.”

Regarding the amnesty decree issued by President Bashar Assad in late July, the general explained that terrorists who want to be granted amnesty could lay down their arms. Those who choose to go on to Idlib would be granted safe passage by the Syrian government and army, in coordination with the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

According to the general, when two militants arrived at the Bustan al-Qasr crossing about two months ago, they surrendered their arms and proceeded under amnesty.

Five months ago, he said, 12 civilians crossed there, were treated in Aleppo’s hospitals, and returned to their homes in terrorist-held eastern Aleppo.  

At the Castello Road humanitarian crossing, the large green buses which were said to be evacuating militants from areas of eastern Aleppo in recent weeks were there again, waiting to ferry away more. Ten ambulances, three buses, and 14 minivans were lined up in anticipation of any civilians or militants trying to leave terrorist-occupied areas, whether for safe passage elsewhere or to settle in government-secured areas of Aleppo.

Ten ambulances wait at the Castello Road crossing to treat anyone exiting via the humanitarian corridors established by the Syrian government and Russia, including militants who lay down their arms. Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: Eva Bartlett)

George Sire, 25, an anesthesiologist at Salloum Hospital in Aleppo, was one of the volunteers who arrived at the crossing with five of the private hospital’s ambulances, at the request of the Syrian government.

When speaking with a Syrian commander about permitting men who had used arms against Syrian civilians and soldiers to lay down their arms and reconcile, he said they are sons of the country and urged them to reconcile.

At around 1:30 p.m. the first shell struck, hitting near Castello Road. About 10 minutes later, while I was being interviewed, a second hit, this time considerably closer, within 100 meters — close enough, in fact, to create a cloud of dark smoke over the road. It prompted security to usher me away from the road and move our delegation away from the crossing.

I later learned that another five shells targeted the crossing, injuring a Syrian journalist and two Russian soldiers.

No one passed through this or any of the other seven humanitarian corridors that day.

And:

“Last Friday, I visited one of Aleppo’s main public parks, a once-beautiful park where fountains danced to the songs of Arab greats like Oum Kalthoum, and simple cafes were full.

Now the fountains are dry, the main one littered with rubble from one of many terrorist shellings of the park, and one of the main cafes out of commission after being hit by a terrorist shell roughly a year and a half ago.

While people do continue to frequent the park, the risk of being killed by a mortar or rocket remains, as pretty much everywhere in greater Aleppo.

I had read about the July 22, 2016, terrorist rocket on the park which killed civilians while they were in the park on a summer Friday.

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Photo via Pierre Le Corf

SANA news reported on that day that: “Eleven civilians were killed, among them a child and two women, while 44 others were injured in terrorist attacks with rocket shells and sniper bullets on neighborhoods and the public facilities in Aleppo city on Friday.

…eight civilians were killed and 34 others injured in a rocket shell fired by terrorist groups on the public park.”

In November, a local took me to the area where the murdered woman was sitting when the rocket’s shrapnel killed she, another woman, a child, and injured nearby civilians.

The park was busy this Friday, not as busy as a hot summer day would have seen it, but still had people sitting on such benches or on the plastic chairs of the cafe behind where the murdered women had been sitting.

Walking around the large park, we saw evidence of shelling…on the pavement and in the small plots of grass. Some were like the small holes in the pavement that I’m used to seeing in the Old City of Damascus, ravaged by terrorists’ mortars. Others were mini-craters in the grass, including one near a cafe which was hit apparently about a year and a half ago.

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Speaking with local security there, they estimated that between 40-50 shells have hit the park in the past few years. The number could be greater, or less, but the fact is the park has been targeted, as have public places around the city of over 1.5 million people, who on a daily basis facethis mortar/rocket/Grad missile/explosive bullet/gas canister terrorism.

This park in summer would have not only been a spot to try to briefly escape the hell of 6 years of foreign war on Syria, but would also have had many displaced Syrians who have fled terrorist-occupied areas to government-secured areas, many of whom during the day sought refuge in the shade from blistering heat.

Without electricity for years, thanks to the terrorist factions who control the area where the power plant is, Aleppo residents who can afford it buy power by the ampere. Many can only afford the basics–some light bulbs and power for their fridge.

From a photo essay I published in mid-2016, after my second Aleppo visit:

The power plant lies in areas controlled by terrorist factions. For years, Aleppo residents have suffered from a lack of power, and compensate by purchasing generator-supplied electricity. Not cheap, some opt to buy just 1 ampere worth, which according to Aleppo resident Nabil Antaki costs around 4000 Syrian pounds a month (roughly US$8) . Two amperes will run a small television. Four amperes, a fridge, small television and a few bulbs.

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Many others can’t afford that, period. I remember the suffocating heat even on an August visit to Aleppo, staying in a friend’s place without electricity or water…the desire to be out in an open place where one could breathe, sweat less, was strong…

In the canal running through the park, a boy around 14 years old stripped to his underwear and dove in, swept down river by the quick current, scrambling out and up the wall to dive in anew. When we passed the river a little later, a girl had joined in. I asked whether this would be frowned upon and my friend laughed at me, “We are not al-Qaeda here.” (I remembered the words of a man who I’d spoken with the night before, who spoke of al-Nusra in occupied eastern areas forcing women and girls to cover even their wrists and hands. This girl would have no freedom in areas occupied by the West’s “rebels”.)

Scenes like these, of seeming normalcy, can be shattered in an instant, with the fall of a mortar or shell fired by terrorists which the West deems as “moderates” and whose crimes Western leaders continue to ignore.

Eva Karene Bartlettabout 3 years ago

Last Friday, I visited one of Aleppo’s main public parks, a once-beautiful park where fountains danced to the songs of Arab greats like Oum Kalthoum, and simple cafes were full.

Now the fountains are dry, the main one littered with rubble from one of many terrorist shellings of the park, and one of the main cafes out of commission after being hit by a terrorist shell roughly a year and a half ago.

While people do continue to frequent the park, the risk of being killed by a …See More

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Small public park in Aziziya. People who are displaced frequent such parks, to get out of the small apartments or government-supplied shelters they live in.12

From Aziziya district, on July 4, half a kilometer away, the explosion of a terrorist-fired bomb. Around 5 pm, this is a busy time when streets are packed with cars and pedestrians; terrorists know they can kill and maim more civilians when attacking at these busy hours. Minutes later, an anti-aircraft explosive bullet landed roughly 15 metres away from my Aziziya venue. Had it landed on one of the parked cars, there would have been many casualties. A day later, such an explosive bullet killed the mother of an Aleppo friend, at her home. Photo: Eva Bartlett

In that 2016 photo essay, I wrote also about the villages of Nubl and Zahra’a, north of Aleppo:

Hell Cannon-fired gas canister bombs litter the countryside around Aleppo and on the route to Nubl and Zahra’a. These, and larger variations, are what Western-backed terrorists have rained down on the city of Aleppo, as well as besieged Foua and Kafarya in Idlib governorate. Manufactured locally, fired upon civilians daily, gas canister bombs get virtually no mention in corporate media, although their impact is deadly.

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The roughly 65,000 people of Nubl and Zahra’a villages, under siege from terrorist factions of the so-called FSA, al-Nusra, and affiliated factions for three and a half years, were on February 3, 2016, liberated from the choke-hold which strangled them. Zeinab Sharbo, 25, and Mounthaher Khatib, 26, each have young children who suffered for want of food and basic elements of life, and who were traumatized by the terrorists’ bombing of the villages. Although corporate media, when deigning to mention the villages, usually focused on their predominately Shia composition, Sunnis also live in the villages. According to Zeinab, “Sectarianism wasn’t a problem before, we were brothers and sisters, we intermarried with neighbouring villages.”

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Abdul Karim Assad, 7, has painful face disfiguration from a terrorist-fired mortar which burned his face. Under siege at the time, the boy was only treated with basic medical care in a barebones hospital in Zahra’a. The boy is not originally from Nubl, but from Idlib, from which his grandfather fled when terrorists invaded. He is another poster child for the terrorism inflicted upon Syria.

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Aleppo’s over 1.5 million residents are depending on trucks from outside of the city to bring in the basics of life. Unable to use the main highway, and now unable to use the paved Ramouseh road, trucks travel an extended distance over many rough dirt roads to enter Aleppo from its north.

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The Dabeet maternity hospital, the inside destroyed and outside badly damaged on May 3, 2016, by terrorist rocket fire, is one of numerous hospitals targeted by terrorists in Syria. The May 3 attack killed three women. A week later, the hospital was hit by terrorist mortar fire. Aleppo’s Kindi hospital, destroyed by terrorists, was one of the largest cancer hospitals in the region.

*

Back to the present.

The Press Office of President Assad on February 17, 2020 published his latest speech, addressing this restoration of peace to Aleppo and the need to do so in Idlib. Syriana Analysis has subtitled this speech:

Partial transcript of recent speech by President Assad:

“When Aleppo city was liberated at the end of 2016, I said that what was before the liberation of Aleppo city will not be the same as what will be after that, and I based that on my knowledge of where the members of our Armed Forces are aiming with their hearts and minds. I based that on my conviction that the patriotism of the people of Aleppo and their fealty to their homeland and the homeland’s army will overturn the calculations of the enemies.

“This is what happened, but Aleppo had to pay a great price equal to the greatness of its people and the patriotism of its position; years of violent and barbaric shelling that affected most neighborhoods, tens of thousands of martyrs, injured people, orphans, people who lost children, and widows. Years of siege without water or electricity or other life necessities, all for Aleppo to kneel and for her people to surrender.

“With every treacherous shell that had fallen, the enemies’ hopes would grow that Aleppo would become another Aleppo, one that never existed throughout history, an Aleppo that does not constitute with its twin Damascus the wings by which the homeland soars; rather an Aleppo whose people would stand with traitors in front of masters, kneeling and prostrating themselves before them, beginning for a few dollars and much disgrace.

“That was in their dreams; but in our real world, with every shell that fell, fear fell and the will to challenge grew. With every martyr, nationalist spirit grew and faith in the homeland became stronger. In our real world, it remained the real Aleppo, the Aleppo of history, nobility, and authenticity. And because it is so, its people did not settle for steadfastness just in the sense of bearing of pain and suffering and acceptance of the status quo; but rather in the sense of work and production that persisted throughout the years of the siege despite the conditions that contradict any economic sense.

“Despite that, this city kept contributing – even if at a bare minimum – to national economy, and I am confident that this type of steadfastness which reflects a concrete will and a deep-rooted sense of belonging is what will raise Aleppo from the ashes of war and restore its natural and leading position in Syria’s economy,” President al-Assad said.

President al-Assad added “It is true that liberating the city in 2016 did not achieve the desired safety for the city at the time, and it remained under the threat of treacherous and cowardly shells, and it is also true today that victory in one battle does not mean victory in the war, but that is by the abstract military logic which is based on endings and results; however, by national logic, victory begins with the beginning of steadfastness even if it was at day one, and by that logic, Aleppo is victorious, and Syria is victorious. We are all victorious over the fear they had tried to instill in our hearts, victorious over the delusions they tried to instill in our minds, victorious over fragmentation, hatred, betrayal, and all those who represent or bear or practice these qualities.

“However, we are fully aware that this liberation does not mean the end of the war, or the failure of schemes, or the disappearance of terrorism, or the surrender of enemies, but it certainly means rubbing their noses in the dirt as a prelude for complete defeat, sooner or later,” the President affirmed.

“It also means that we must not relax; rather we must prepare for the coming battles. Therefore, the battle to liberate the countryside of Aleppo and Idleb will continue regardless of some empty sound bubbles coming from the north, and the battle for liberating all Syrian soil, crushing terrorism, and achieving stability will also continue.”

His Excellency went on to say “Our Syrian Arab Army will never hesitate to carry out its national duties, and it will be as it always has been: an army from the people and for the people. Throughout history, no army has emerged victorious unless the people are united with it in its battle, and when it is united with the people in their vision and cause, and this is what we have witnessed in Aleppo and other Syrian cities, where you embraced the army it protected you, defended you, and made sacrifices for you.

“While we are experiencing times of joy, we must remember that these moments have been made possible by years of pain, heartache, and sadness, for the loss of a dear one that gave their life for the lives and happiness of others. As we bow in honor of the greatness of our martyrs and injured people, it is also our duty to stand in honor of the greatness of their mighty families. If victory is to be dedicated, then it is dedicated to them, and if anyone should receive credit for it, then they deserve the credit. I salute them for the children their raised, and salute their children for their sacrifices. I salute every one of the heroes of our great army and the allied forces begin them. I salute the strength of their bodies in the cold and frost as we bask in warmth and safety.”

President al-Assad went on to salute “our brothers, friends, and allies who stood shoulder to shoulder with the army on the ground and were guardian eagles in the sky, their blood intermingling with the blood of our army that was spilled in Aleppo, Aleppo the faithful to its homeland and history, which will never forget the blood of those who made sacrifices for it, and which will return as it was and stronger.

“Our beloved people in Aleppo, I congratulate you on the victory of your will, the will by which we will wage the greater battle: the battle to build Aleppo. By the will of all the Syrian people we will build Syria, and we will continue liberation, God willing.”

If you haven’t already read it, consider reading my January 2019 compilation:

Turns Out President Assad Was Right About Terrorism in Syria; Turns Out He Has Massive Popular Support in Syria

Eva Karene Bartlett about a year agoTurns Out President Assad Was Right About Terrorism in Syria; Turns Out He Has Massive Popular Support in SyriaIn the workshop of a Sunni Syrian, with his Christmas tree, Imam Ali photo, Quranic calligraphy, and photo of President Bashar al-Assad .See More

because corporate media has been lying to you, not Syria’s president, not Russia.

-Related: US to grant $35 million to promote its fake news bubble in Syria & control local media

2017: ‘US WENT AHEAD & BOMBED SYRIA, NOBODY DEMANDED INVESTIGATION’ – EVA BARTLETT

Interview I did in mid 2017. Still relevant, with all the nonsense war propaganda on Idlib… [Related: On Syrian hospitals being bombed…or not…]

I spoke on what I’d just seen/heard in Syria: civilians telling me they were starved by the terrorists the West dubs “rebels”, whose crimes the West whitewash.

I’d just been back to eastern Aleppo, and been to al-Waer and Madaya, areas propagandized on by lying corporate media.

Related Links:

Syria War Diary: What Life Is Like Under ‘Moderate’ “Rebel” Rule [eastern Aleppo, starvation, militarization of hospitals]

Order Returns To Western Cities as Syrian Civilians Recount Horrors Of “Rebel” Rule [Madaya & al-Waer]

Caught in a lie, US & allies bomb Syria the night before international inspectors arrive [2018]

Torture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule

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

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over

US to grant $35 million to promote its fake news bubble in Syria & control local media [first published at RT.com]

Those Who Transmit Syrian Voices Are “Russian Propagandists”? Monitors of ‘Fake News’ Negate Syrian Suffering

*Israel’s widespread use of White Phosphorous on Palestinian civilians:

“next time it will hurt more”: Israeli threat against surviving family members of White Phosphorous attack

White phosphorous mutilated and murdered family members [photos and video]

the attacked Wafa rehabilitation hospital

Long-burning fires: White Phosphorous on Sheikh Rajleen

Documenting Israel’s use of White Phosphorous and widespread destruction

PALESTINE, SYRIA, WHITE HELMETS AND BANA AL-ABED – TAREQ HADDAD SPEAKS TO EVA BARTLETT

Eva Bartlett

CONTACT INFO: evakbartlett2017@gmail.com

An independent writer and rights activist with extensive experience in Syria and in the Gaza Strip, where she lived a cumulative three years (from late 2008 to early 2013). 

Very pleased to have been a guest on the program “Conversations”, hosted by courageous and principled journalist Tareq Haddad.

He writes:

“Former Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad speaks to Eva Bartlett, an award-winning independent journalist and activist. They discuss Eva’s early history, including her early days in Gaza and the West Bank, and how she transitioned into journalism in addition to addressing the large backlash and smears she faced.”

Please consider supporting his podcast:https://www.patreon.com/tareqhaddad

https://www.paypal.me/tareqhaddad

Also, support his share of the podcast on Twitter.

CONVERSATION-RELATED LINKS:

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse

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Stealing Palestinian Land in Susiya [August 2007 post from Susiya, occupied Palestine]

Susiya Grandfather Under Attack by Illegal Colonists [September 2007]

Introducing Susiya: a beautiful landscape marred by illegal colonists [September 2007]

Further Susiya posts

Nablus After the Israeli Military Invasion [July 2007]

Breaking Fast Under “Curfew” (Lockdown) [October 2007]

Collective Punishment in Balata and Nablus [November 2007]

Azzoun: village under israeli assault and lockdown [December 2007]

My 2007 posts from occupied Palestine

Personal Reflections from occupied Palestine

Overview of what I witnessed in the West Bank, occupied Palestine

Free Gaza Movement [which sent 5 boat trips to Gaza in 2008]

November 2008 boat to Gaza: how I got to Gaza

*GAZA MASSACRE (2008/9):

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December 2008 posts (scroll down)

January 2009 posts (scroll though)

February 2009 follow-up posts

videos

Israel’s widespread use of White Phosphorous:

White phosphorous mutilated and murdered family members [photos and video]

“next time it will hurt more”: Israeli threat against surviving family members of White Phosphorous attack [follow-up on the family I met in Shifa hospital]-the attacked Wafa rehabilitation hospital

Long-burning fires: White Phosphorous on Sheikh RajleenDocumenting Israel’s use of White Phosphorous and widespread destruction

some of the Israeli war crimes:

widespread attacks on Gaza leave nearly 300 dead, hundreds seriously injured (start of the war on Gaza)

Israeli army kills Palestinian medic with dart bombIsraeli Sniper Targets Uniformed Medics: what I witnessed in Gaza

Another funeral bombedShifa ICU: a glimpse of hospital critical injuriesinjured, denied access: Israeli soldiers shoot woman in stomach and keep elderly hostages

While eating chips and chocolate, Israeli soldiers assassinate 2 and 7 year old“They killed me three times”: Palestinian father on Israeli army murder of family members including infant girl

All we’ve got left of him: parents speak of their Israeli-drone-struck youthBurning al Quds: one of Gaza’s remaining functional hospitals bombed in Israel’s war on Gaza

Updates from runs with medics; grief of husband of drone-struck womanIsrael bombed the news building I was in

Israel’s ceasefire violations:

It’s a ceasefire…just not on the beach, not in your home: Israeli soldier shoots 7 year old boy in head;

Continued Israeli shelling, F-16s and drones after the ceasefire

*GAZA MASSACRE 2012:

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Gaza under israeli bombs: day 6 since Nov 14

Killing before the Calm: Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Civilians Escalated before Cease-fire

Zionist drones and warplanes pollute Gaza’s skies immediately after 9 pm “cease-fire” [VIDEO]

Israeli Soldiers Fail to Cease Firing on Palestinian FarmersThe Flattening of Gaza [with photos]

The Civilian Toll of Israel’s BombsAfter the Zionist bombing stopped (again)

*OTHER GAZA LINKS:

Observations from Occupied Palestine: Gaza [many links within this article]-213 Palestinians murdered by Israeli soldiers during Great March of Return, with 36,134 injured (including being shot in the eye) since the demonstrations began on 30 March 2018, according to OCHA as of January 23, 2020.
UN predictions fall short: Gaza uninhabitable todayDirty Tricks: Israeli Soldiers Shoot Deaf Palestinian Farmer, 4th Farmer Shot in 3 weeks

*SYRIA RELATED LINKS:

-on the Guardian White-washing the White Helmets: How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria

*on (some of) the BBC lies/war propaganda on Syria:Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’

From my “Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda“:

“In April 2014, after an elementary school was mortared by terrorists east of Damascus, killing one child, the BBC later reported, “the government is also accused of launching them into neighborhoods under its control.” On a recent social media post, I noted this deceitful journalism, and the BBC could have easily learned about the trajectory of mortars and from where the mortar in question could only have come: the “moderates” east of Damascus.”

*Other examples of Western media lies on Syria:

US to grant $35 million to promote its fake news bubble in Syria & control local media

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

Faked concern: Haley & corporate media bleating about Idlib civilians, ignore terrorists’ presence

Organ theft, staged attacks: UN panel details White Helmets’ criminal activities, media yawns

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

MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His Son

–From my “Exploitation of children in propaganda war against Syria continues“:

“In November 2014, a clip dubbed ‘Syrian hero boy’ went viral, viewed over 5 million times already by mid-November. The clip showed what appeared to be a little boy saving his sister from sniper gunfire, and was assumed to have been in Syria.
The Telegraph’s Josie Ensor didn’t wait for any sort of verification of the video which she cited as having been uploaded on November 10, the next day writing“…it is thought the incident took place in Yabroud – a town near the Lebanese border which was the last stronghold of the moderate Free Syrian Army. Experts tell the paper they have no reason to doubt its authenticity. The UN has previously accused the Syrian regime of ‘crimes against humanity’ – including the use of snipers against small children.”

On November 14, the BBC brought on ‘Middle East specialist’ Amira Galal to give her expert opinion on the clip. She asserted“We can definitely say that it is Syria, and we can definitely say that it’s probably on the regime frontlines. We see in the footage that there is a barrel, it’s painted on it the Syrian army flag.”

Once again, the so-called ‘experts’ got it wrong. The barrel which Galal referred to had a poor imitation of the flag of Syria painted on it, the flag’s color sequence out of order. The clip she was so certain had been filmed in government areas of Syria was actually produced in Malta by Norwegian filmmakers.”–Guardian, Atlantic contributor acts as a Syrian terrorist mouthpiece on Twitter, and if you don’t like it you’re a Russian stooge

*on Syrian elections 2014:

what I saw/heard at Syrian embassy in Beirut: Syrians Flock to Vote in LebanonSelection of articles on the elections (and terrorist attacks)-From my: “US-Backed Terrorism in Syria: A First-Hand Account of the Use of Mortars Against Civilians“:

“…in the three-month period of April, May and June 2014, terrorist-insurgents fired 994 mortars on Damascus and environs, 426 of which were fired in June (see list of locations hit and number of mortars below). On June 3, Election Day in Syria, the terrorist-insurgents fired 151 shells on Damascus, killing 5 and maiming 33 Syrians…”-A week after the elections, Syrians celebrating outcome in Homs*My 2014 reports from Homs & Maaloula:-from my “Liberated Homs Residents Challenge Notion of “Revolution””

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

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

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

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

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

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

…No one expected the priest himself to be killed, Kanawati attested. “Someone who was probably in his twenties came here, his face covered, came and ordered Father Frans to go with him. Father Frans refused. So the man told him to sit on this chair, and shot him in the head.”Abu Nabeel added another piece of information regarding van der Lugt’s murder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…“Thirty-eight times they came to steal our food. The first couple of times, they knocked on the door, after that they just entered with guns. The last things they took were our dried peas, our cracked wheat, our olives, finally our za’atar (wild thyme). We started to eat grass and whatever greens we could find in February, 2014, and that’s all we had till Homs was liberated,” Zeinat said.“The last time they came all we had were some spices. I was putting the spices on the grass and weeds that we were eating at that point, to give them some flavour. They even took the spices. They didn’t leave us anything…”–Devastation…and Inspiration: Recalling Liberated Ma’loula[2016 article: Overcoming Savagery and Treachery, Maaloula’s Heroic Defenders Fight for the Future ][2018 article: Damascus Trade Fair and Festival of the Cross Mark the Return of Peace to Much of Syria ]-Regarding Zahra’a (Homs) terrorist attacks: Where is the West’s compassion & condemnation following terror attacks in Middle East?On hospitals being bombed in Syria, and those not

*On Douma/Ghouta Chemical Hoax, and Reality of Life Under Terrorist Rule:

No attack, no victims, no chem weapons: Douma witnesses speak at OPCW briefing at The Hague (VIDEO)

Real ‘obscene masquerade’: How BBC depicted staged hospital scenes as proof of Douma chemical attack

Syrian civilians from ground zero expose chemical hoaxTorture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule

Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: First-Hand Account, by Tareq Haddad

‘Brazen disinformation’: Syria narrative managers defend Douma chemical weapon hoax as OPCW comes under attack

Worst lie since fake claim sparked Iraq war? OPCW report behind Syria bombings was altered, whistleblower tells UNSC

Twitter thread on OPCW revelationsUN On Khan Sheikhoun – Victims Hospitalized BEFORE Claimed Incident Happened

US TO GRANT $35 MILLION TO PROMOTE ITS FAKE NEWS BUBBLE IN SYRIA & CONTROL LOCAL MEDIA

Fake News Media

January 24, 2020, RT.comAlthough Western media has a shoddy track record of lying on Syria (and Libya, Iraq…), the US State Department will pump $35 million more into future war propaganda on Syria, under the guise of promoting honest reporting. 

A US State Department grant, “Support for Independent Media in Syria,” is unabashed in stating one of its main goals is “to advance U.S. Government policy objectives in Syria.”

That is probably the sole honest clause in the grant description: that it is in the end about US self-serving, hegemonic objectives in Syria.

The description goes on to claim these goals include the defeat of ISIS—although the illegal US-led coalition has attacked Syrian army positions on numerous occasions, ensuring the advance (not defeat) of ISIS in those areas. One of the most glaring instances being the September 2016 repeated attacks on the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor province, which saw ISIS take over the region.

The US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, recognized in the region as the man responsible for the near-defeat of ISIS, is another notable example of the US goals being to prolong, not defeat, ISIS in the region.

With their grant, the US plans to “advance human rights and promote tolerance and dialogue between ethnic and religious communities,” which is again morbidly laughable given that the US has been supporting wahhabi and other extremists whose human rights track records include caging, torturing, raping, and starving civilians, and public executions.

It wouldn’t be American policy if the State Department grant didn’t include mention of countering “Russian disinformation” and ending the presence of “Iranian forces and proxies in Syria.”

However, removing Iranian forces isn’t within America’s right to do; Syria invited Iran, Russia and other allies to actually fight terrorism in Syria, as opposed to the US-led occupation forces. And as discussed, it isn’t Russia that has the track record of disinfo on Syria, that honour goes to America and allies.

Western outlets in chorus promoted the accusations of Syria/Russia preventing food and aid into eastern Aleppo (even Reuters reported“rebels” had stockpiled aid) and Madaya and eastern Ghouta (none was true).

Western media sold the story of Russia/Syria bombing the home of Omran Daqneesh (didn’t happen), of the al-Quds hospital being “reduced to rubble” by Russian/Syrian bombing (didn’t happen), and a litany of other grotesque war propaganda stories.

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[READ: MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His Son ]

[READ: Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda ]

Suddenly we’re meant to find credible journalists who embed with al-Qaeda and whitewash their crimes, and media which have on many occasions used photos not even in Syria to accompany sensationalist war propaganda stories. 

CNN and western media got it wrong about Omran Daqneesh, but I haven’t even seen any retractions for this lie.

And yet the US wants people to believe that the independent voices and Russian and Syrian media who actually reported factually and honestly on these and other issues…are not credible. 

The US wants people to live in a fake news bubble, where the narratives are controlled by the war mongers. And, strangely, America seemingly wants Syrians to be subjected to media that reports opposite of the reality they are living. As if after nine years of enduring Western (and Gulf) media’s lies Syrians will suddenly believe them and decide to overthrow the president they elected (and support)? America is grasping at straws…

The OPCW Truth Bombs

Western nations accuse Russia of disinformation around whether Syria used a chemical weapon in Douma, eastern Ghouta.

In April 2018, Western media pounced on and promoted the White Helmets’ lies, shedding crocodile tears over civilians allegedly exposed to a chemical agent, at the same time ignoring or mocking the testimonies of 17 Syrians from Douma (including the boy starring in the White Helmets’ hoax video). 

Turns out the body tasked to examine this accusation omitted from its final report key findings that poke massive holes in the (West’s) official narrative around Douma. Not one, but many revelations have been leaked about the critical omissions of the OPCW  report. 

The only ones taking this seriously are mainly Russia, Syria and independent researchers. In the face of these recent revelations, most Western media have largely thus far been silent.

Similarly, Western media didn’t cover the December 2018 panel detailing damning findings on the White Helmets’ association (and membership) with terrorist groups in Syria, and their involvement in staging chemical attacks and in organ harvesting…

[READ: Organ theft, staged attacks: UN panel details White Helmets’ criminal activities, media yawns ]

In the State Department’s quest for truthful reporting, one of the issues to be protected seemingly at all costs is of course the White Helmets (and the chemical hoaxes they help stage).

Anyone who has seriously researched the White Helmets, much less bothered to interview Syrian civilians about the fake rescue group, knows their footage and claims are as credible as the words of nurse Nayirah, Colin Powell, or the entries of Wikipedia.

Journalists who bothered to interview medical staff in Douma following the chemical hoax were told that doctors were treating patients with normal wartime injuries when “strangers” (including White Helmets members) entered yelling about a chemical attack, creating a panic (and demonstrating a lack of medical skills), and filming the scene with then 11 year old Hassan Diab.

[READ: Syrian civilians from ground zero expose chemical hoax ]

Diab was one of the Syrians dismissed by western media when he testified to the OPCW that he had not been subject to a chemical attack but had been used by the White Helmets. For Western media, only some children are credible (exploited)…when it suits their narrative.

One such youth, Muhammad, gained notoriety when eastern Ghouta was being liberated. Like the Aleppo child Bana before him, the Ghouta teen had an account in his name on Twitter (the dodgy logistics of which I raised in my last article) and was busy parroting the accusations.

Incidentally, Ghouta (to the silence of media which claimed concern in 2018) is rebuilding, in peace.

In any case, I get the feeling people are tired of lying Western media, chemical hoaxes and the antics of the White Helmets. I certainly see propaganda apologists getting called out on Twitter more than prior, and people are extremely skeptical of chemical weapons accusations.

As Vassily Nebenzia said of the OPCW official report on Douma: “Humpty-Dumpty, as we know, “sat on a wall, had a great fall and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again”. I mean, that is exactly what happened to FFM report. Exactly.”

RELATED:

‘Truth is the 1st casualty of war’: Syria’s East Ghouta battleground distorted by MSM propaganda 

‘Brazen disinformation’: Syria narrative managers defend Douma chemical weapon hoax as OPCW comes under attack

Torture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule 

THOMAS RÖPER ON HIS “ANTI-SPIEGEL” WRITINGS, AND ON LIFE IN RUSSIA VS. RUSSOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

Thomas Röper is the creator of the Anti-Spiegel, a website that examines content produced by the German news site Der Spiegel for lies or misinformation.
We discuss his work, and also life in Russia, where he has lived for over 20 years.
Worthwhile listening for those wondering if perhaps the 24/7 anti-Russia rhetoric emanating from Western media and political figures might just be a bunch of nonsense.

*Apologies for the tech problems in first half, getting accustomed to the recording program.*

Follow Thomas’ work at the following links:

https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/https://twitter.com/SpiegelAnti

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC93mqUPbNmHZhl4fAVvZWpQ

CONVERSATION-RELATED LINKS:-Why I was in a police station filing a complaint:“Canadian journalist critical of protests attacked by Foreigner (American?) with anti-Russian slogans”

The dialectic of the Moscow Protests Hoax‘Fancy’ coups: US-backed workshops exposed as revolution masterclasses [VIDEO]–«Почувствовать себя в игре»: как организуют протесты в МосквеThe Interference of the West in the Affairs of Russia Through the Moscow City Duma Election

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