Gaza Scholars Protest Macron’s Anti-Islam Provocation (PHOTOS)

October 26, 2020

Palestinian religious scholars in Gaza protest inflammatory anti-Islam statements by French President Emmanuel Macron. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

On Monday, Palestinian religious scholars in Gaza joined worldwide protests condemning inflammatory anti-Islamic practices and official statements by French media and government officials. 

Like many Muslims across the world, the Gaza scholars called for an economic boycott of France in response to anti-Muslim comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron, and his decision to circulate defamatory cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.

The Gaza protest was held in front of the French Cultural Center in Gaza City and came in response to a call made by the Palestinian Scholars Union to take a stance against French provocations. 

Some of the placards that the protesters held in Arabic translate to: “Prophet Mohammed stood up against injustice, built solidarity and cooperation” and “Prophet Mohammed laid the foundation for coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslims”, while others called for immediate “Economic boycott” of France. 

Besides the provocative Prophet Mohammed cartoons, Macron earlier this month claimed that Islam is “a religion in crisis”,  announcing plans for tougher laws to confront the alleged “Islamist separatism” in his country, Anadolu News Agency reported. 

(All Photos: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

OPCW head falsely describes Syria whistleblower to discredit them: Greyzone

By News Desk -2020-05-07

New documents leaked from the global chemical watchdog show that two inspectors blowing the whistle about the 2018 Douma incident in Syria were right, and the director seeking to discredit them was wrong.

Two inspectors with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have challenged the organization’s final report on the April 2018 incident, which they say was altered to dismiss their findings and validate after the fact the US, UK and French missile strikes against the government in Damascus.

OPCW Director General Fernando Arias responded earlier this year by describing them as “rogue” inspectors who weren’t even members of the mission. Documents obtained by investigative journalist Aaron Mate at Greyzone, however, show that Arias’ statements were false or misleading.

Arias claimed that South African inspector Ian Henderson was “not a member” of the fact-finding mission (FFM) dispatched to Douma, and that he had played a “minor supporting role.”

However, the documents from April 2018 obtained by the Grayzone show that OPCW directors were “happy” to have Henderson lead the visits to the most important locations in Douma: the hospital and the sites of alleged chlorine cylinder impact, for instance.

Another document, described as a sensitive security-planning memorandum known as CONOPS, lists Henderson as part of the FFM under the section “Mission Personnel.”

Last, but not least, the “F038” memorandum to the Syrian government lists Henderson as “part of the team conducting the technical secretariat visits,” notifying Damascus of his role. Henderson has previously explained publicly that he was on a mission in Nepal, and was assigned to Douma immediately upon his return.

Moreover, another OPCW document shows that Henderson took over the OPCW Damascus command post on May 3, 2018 – two days after returning from Douma.

This goes directly against Arias’ version of events, according to which Henderson was already in Damascus, happened to play a minor role in the Douma mission, and then went “rogue” to sabotage the organization for reasons unknown.

Henderson and another whistleblower inspector – who remains anonymous – have said for months that they had not gone rogue, but were sidelined by OPCW because they produced evidence suggesting the Douma incident had been staged by the Army of Islam militants who controlled the area at the time.

The final OPCW report, they contend, was doctored to retroactively justify the US, UK and French missile strikes and enable them to blame Damascus.

The OPCW responded to their revelations by painting them as disgruntled employees who breached confidentiality and lacked expertise and access to all the evidence. Their own documents now clearly show those statements to be false.

Source: RT

See also

The Syrian Russian Turksih Idlib Stand-Of – Erdogan’s Last Stand?

February 06, 2020

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Even though the Syrian Army, with the aid of its international friends and allies, especially Russia, has been able to score many victories and liberate most of Syria’s major cities from the control of terrorist groups, the fight is far from over.

Before the situation in the American-controlled North-East is addressed, the Western regions, including Idlib and its surrounds must be put back fully under the legitimate government control.

As a matter of fact, politically speaking, the situation now is perhaps more complex to deal with than nine years ago when the “War on Syria” took form. Almost exactly nine years ago, the enemies of Syria combined efforts to launch a joint attack. United only by their hatred for Syria, they had diverse agendas, but they combined efforts in order to capitalize on each other’s strengths. The Wahhabi version of Islamists, headed by Saudi Arabia, joined hands with the Muslim Brotherhood version headed by Turkey and financed by Qatar, and they all joined hands with NATO, Israel and Lebanese ultra-right militia among other vendetta groups, for the single purpose of deposing President Assad and replacing the legitimate secular Syrian Government with one that is sectarian and pliable to the will of the Western roadmap.

They failed.

They failed in achieving their combined objectives and some of the armies they created, such as Jaysh Al-Islam, headed by former Syrian Army officer Zahran Alloush, ceased to exist. Alloush was killed in a Syrian Army attack in December 2015, but the casualties also included conspirators who were sidelined and lost their careers; the most prominent of which is Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, who was perhaps the single biggest architect of the attack on Syria.

The tides began to turn in favour of Syria after the Syrian Army scored its huge victory in the Battle of Qusayr in mid-2013. This was a decisive battle that basically disabled the terrorists from linking the Damascus province with their northern supply lines. Without this victory, in retrospect, it would be arguable if Syria would have been able to earn much support from Russia; if any at all. Syria had to show a fighting spirit, resolve, determination and respect for her to reach such an echelon. After all, Russia does not only by tradition honour and respect those who stand up with dignity against all odds, but on the geopolitical scene, and after decades of being sidelined by the Western bloc, any Russian global move had to be fully and thoroughly assessed before any venture was to be undertaken.

It was crucial for Russia therefore, and for President Putin in particular, to ensure that the presence of Russian troops in Syria had very high chances of success.

The fragmentation of Syria’s enemies began to take form before Russian action in the skies and on the soil of Syria. The Saudi’s first and biggest disappointment was when the USA refused to level Damascus to the ground after Prince Bandar orchestrated the alleged Ghouta chemical attack in September 2013. That was Bandar’s last draw after the loss of Al-Qusayr and his attempts to blackmail Putin by threatening him to unleash Islamists in Chechnya.

From that point in time onwards, the Saudi role in the “War on Syria” dwindled and came to an end with the demise of Alloush. But as the tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia emerged in 2017, Qatar remained “represented” via its ally Turkey.

Erdogan was initially determined to victoriously pray at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus early in the piece. But he is still determined to get a bite of the cherry, a consolation prize, despite all the setbacks that his former camp has endured.

After Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 in November 2015, the relationship between Turkey and Russia reached its nadir. But the pragmatist Erdogan soon apologized to Putin and eventually reached an agreement about how to deal with the deadlock situation in Idlib.

But Erdogan is not coming clean about his commitment to what became to be known as the Sochi Agreement. https://thedefensepost.com/2019/10/22/russia-turkey-syria-mou/.

Erdogan defiantly continues to wear the hat of a fully-fledged NATO member, a close friend and ally of Russia, the leader of the nation that is desirous to enter the EU, an Islamist who wants to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, and a nationalist who is willing and able to deal with Kurdish issue. What he does not see is that whilst those antics gain him popularity amongst sympathetic Muslim supporters, on the international scene, he is increasingly making a mockery out of himself.

His clear-to-see contradictions seem mind-boggling, but to the pragmatic Erdogan who is trying as hard as he can to be Sultan, his mind is fixated on Islamism and nationalism, and he is performing as if he has found himself a Fatwa that permits him to dance to the tunes of the devil to reach his ultimate objectives.

Among other things, to Putin, Erdogan portrays himself as Russia’s friend who is reconsidering his alliance with the US and even wants to buy Russian S-400 defence missile systems. To America, he remains as a NATO member and an American ally who wants to buy America’s latest state-of the-art F-35 fighter jets. On one hand, he makes verbal attacks against Israel, but continues to opt to have strong diplomatic ties with that state. He pledges support for the Palestinian cause but offers no evidence to put his words into action.

If Erdogan truly deserves any recognition and respect at all, it would have to be for his ability to meander his way through and survive amongst all the contradictions that he has deliberately and systemically implanted along his path.

He could be running out of options; at least in Syria, but this doesn’t stop him from making yet more contradictory statements within a few days of each other. By the end of January 2020 he threatened to take a new offensive in Syria over the Russian-backed Syrian Army offensive in Idlib. https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/202001311078189883-erdogan-threatens-new-offensive-in-syria—report/ A few days later, he made a U-turn and declared that he will not allow the situation in Idlib to sour his relationship with Russia. https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/202002041078225599-turkey-will-not-escalate-tensions-with-russia-over-syrias-idlib—erdogan/?fbclid=IwAR1X6tQuRrWsX5iQ3kJCJaxFoR11cnfJpj–VlYhuUu9ZXLK6OQal0kiHaw But in between the two statements which are only four days apart, the Syrian Army has shelled Turkish positions and purportedly killed six Turkish soldiers and injured about a dozen. Whilst such an unprecedented incident should have sent Erdogan firing up as one would expect, according to Palestinian veteran journalist, Abdul Bari Atwan, this wasn’t to happen this time.

In a translation-worthy article, Russia and Syria have decided to take action in Idlib and they are no longer waiting for Erdogan to abide by his promises and agreements.

Atwan’s article’s title translates as: “What does the Syrian shelling of Turkish troops in Sarakob and the killing of six Turkish soldiers signify? And, what is the Russian message to Erdogan? And, did the Russians and the Turks tear up the Sochi Agreement? And, who will emerge as a winner in the bone-crushing battle in Idlib?”

According to Atwan’s analysis, the Syrian shelling of Turkish positions signaled the end of the line of joint Russian-Syrian patience with Erdogan’s lack of commitment to the Sochi Agreement. Atwan argues that opinion polls within Turkey indicate that Erdogan does not have the support of escalating in Syria and neither that of sending troops to Libya for that matter.

Did Atwan see the end of the line of Erdogan’s lies and contradictions this time? I personally hope he did. I must admit that in my previous analysis I have predicted several times that Erdogan had made his final and detrimental mistake . Somehow he always manages to slither out of the hole he was in and keep going.

Has he made his final and lethal mistake or is he going to relent and let Syria be?
Time will tell.

Trump’s Syria Missile Strike Was a Scandal

December 31, 2019

Peter HITCHENS

I suspect the Third World War will begin with a claimed atrocity — probably the use of poison gas by a ‘regime’ against ‘its own people’. Such things are now the favorite way to make wars where there was peace.

Border violations went out of fashion years ago. Invasions are illegal under the UN Charter. There are no Archdukes left to assassinate. ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ will forever evoke hollow laughter. But democracy needs a popular pretext for war, and righteous mass outrage about the inhumanity of the enemy is almost invariably effective.

This is why it is rather important that the people we trust to verify such claims are honest and trustworthy. For who will verify the verifiers? Ignore this little matter and we could obliterate the world by mistake, sooner than you think.

Hence this story of one of the least-covered major scandals of the moment. Apart from Tucker Carlson on his Fox show, no journalist in the United States has even touched it yet. Things are not that much better in Europe.

It begins on April 7, 2018, when social media, quickly followed by professional news organizations, began to spread harrowing reports of mass murder by gas in the Damascus suburb of Douma. Many deaths were reported. Urgent amateur films then appeared showing the dead, horrible to behold, some of them children, many foaming at the mouth. President Trump reacted swiftly, Tweeting ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia, and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!’

In fact he did not wait for that verification. Within a week, the USA had showered Syria with missiles crammed with high explosives. France and Britain swallowed any doubts they may have had and added their own small salvoes, in the usual coalition of the sycophantic.

But then the problems began. It is actually illegal to bomb sovereign countries unless you have a clear justification. And nobody really knew what had happened in Douma. There were no independent Western sources there at the time of the alleged atrocity. They would have been killed or kidnapped if they had been, by the notoriously feral jihadi militia, Jaysh al Islam, which then held the area. The journalists who wrote so confidently about it were in no cases nearer than Beirut, 85 miles away. More of them were even more distant, in Istanbul, London and New York. The sources they quoted from the scene were unnamed and uncheckable. As for the films, there was no way of knowing for sure where they had been made, or how.

It is to resolve doubts such as this that most of the nations of the world — the USA among them — pay for the impartial verification services of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). From its toadstool-shaped headquarters in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, the OPCW sent a small team of experts. The jihadis were gone. The area was clear. They were able to get swift access.

By late June of that year they had compiled their report. It contained no smoking gun. Rather the opposite. There was no trace at all of sarin — despite the fact that the corpses in the films showed symptoms normally associated with that cruel gas. And there was about as much chlorine there as you might find in your kitchen. It was present only in trace elements, parts per billion, and in forms so common that it could have come from household bleach.

And then the scientists discovered that they had come up with the wrong answer. Diligent fair inquiry was not wanted at all. Thanks to a courageous whistleblower, who passed on the details, I and a small number of other journalists reported this week that a disgraceful thing happened inside the OPCW. A new report had been prepared for publication. It was a travesty of what the investigators had written. Their careful, impartial work had been trashed by persons or persons unknown. Their document had been slashed and censored to remove crucial information, especially that the traces of chlorine were tiny.

There were protests. In response, a group of three unidentified US officials appeared unexpectedly at the OPCW’s high-security building. According to one scientist present, these men simply told them that the Syrian regime had conducted a gas attack. Even after this, the struggle for truth went on. Senior officials eventually promised — after much argument — to include the key information about the tiny traces of chlorine in the report that was about to be published. The promise was immediately broken.

The document that was finally issued was conveniently vague, and major news organizations rushed to decide, quite incorrectly, that it had said chlorine gas had been used. Actually, it said nothing of the sort. We have to wonder how so many agencies, broadcasters and major newspapers all reached this wrong conclusion from these few vague words ‘Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4’. But they did.

Now it has been established beyond doubt that the report was doctored. But most people still don’t know that, as it has barely been reported. Why is this? Is it possible that many in the media, just like many in politics, had invested so much in the original outrage that they now could not bear to find that there was, in fact, no proper evidence of the thing they had blazoned on their front pages and shouted in their bulletins? They had been furious and righteous and condemnatory. And now they were left without any proof that the thing had even happened.

We all know Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, which don’t exist, and of the little boy who cries out that the potentate is naked, and everyone in the town then joins in with the little boy. But experience in this case tells me this is all rubbish. In reality the Emperor’s secret police would have arrested the little boy and his father and told them to shut up. And of course, the imperial media would have kept quiet about the incident, providing detailed descriptions for their readers of the monarch’s sumptuous apparel. So it has been in the case of the OPCW. The whistle was blown, but hardly anyone heard it. Who is verifying the verifiers? Nobody is verifying the verifiers, who will one day take us to war — and hell — on a falsehood.

spectator.usThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.


Iran’s battle strategy in Syria and its impact

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 A.M.) – At the start of 2013, the Syrian War was looking unfavorable for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), as a militant offensive in Aleppo cutoff the city from all government supply lines and the strategic East Ghouta region had all but fallen to Jaysh Al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Making matters worse, the government had lost most of Syria’s northern border with Turkey and their western border with Lebanon. This would later prove to be a major issue for the military as foreign militants were pouring into the country from these regions.

Enter Hezbollah and Iran

The Spring of 2013 would prove to be an important period in the Syrian War. Both Hezbollah and Iran would enter the conflict on the side of the government and help the Syrian military regain the initiative in Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus.

Hezbollah’s deployment to Syria helped the government regain the Lebanese border by capturing the strategic crossing at Al-Qusayr, followed by Tal Kalakh and the majority of the Qalamoun Mountains.

The Lebanese group also provided reinforcements to several areas across the country in order to help stabilize these fronts.

While Hezbollah’s entry into the Syrian conflict is often viewed as the first time foreign fighters had entered the war, this is indeed false. Militants from several countries across the world had already entered Syria and began fighting alongside the rebel forces.

Several of these foreign fighters would later join jihadist groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh).

However, unlike Hezbollah, Iran would play a pivotal role behind the scenes in 2013, offering their military advisers to help Damascus concoct a new battle plan.

The plan would focus on a four-corners strategy that would see the Syrian military maintain a presence in four corners of the country, giving the government an area of influence despite the absence of supply routes.

Four Corners Strategy

From 2013 to 2017, the Syrian government maintained a presence in several parts of the country. Since it was difficult to maintain control over the vast desert and mountainous regions, the strategy was to focus on the major cities and spreading out the militants so that the army could regain critical areas around the capital city.

It may appear a bit unorthodox, but the strategy ultimately helped the Syrian military maintain a presence in eastern Syria, where the U.S. and its allies attempted to expand across during the war with ISIS.

For example, the Syrian military kept a presence in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, despite the fact they were surrounded by the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG)

While the Syrian military and the YPG were not fighting each other and their presence in Al-Hasakah was only threatened by ISIS, the army’s decision to stay inside Deir Ezzor city after losing their supply lines from Homs raised a few questions at the time.

Thousands of Syrian troops were besieged in Deir Ezzor and ordered to continue fighting ISIS from 2015 to 2017 when the siege was finally lifted. Prior to the arrival of the Russian Armed Forces in September of 2015, the Deir Ezzor front was under daily attacks by the Islamic State, leaving many to fear for the lives of the people and troops inside the city.

Had the army made the decision to retreat from Deir Ezzor city, ISIS could have sent their forces to other fronts and expanded their presence inside of Syria. Furthermore, it allowed the Syrian Army to maintain control of the city once the U.S.-led Coalition began expanding south of Al-Hasakah.

Finally, the entry of the Russian Armed Forces would play a decisive role in the conflict, as the Syrian Arab Army was able to finally launch multiple offensives to regain most of the country.

Present Day

Iran still desires a complete military victory in Syria, but with the continued Israeli attacks on their positions in the country and U.S. economic pressure through sanctions, the Islamic Republic has been forced to take a more defensive role in the region.

This defensive role has allowed Russia to champion the recent Syrian military operations, while they concentrate on other matters, including the proxy war in the eastern part of the country.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A harsh, abusive environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rukban

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

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

As I wrote recently:

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

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

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

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

According to a March 2019 article from Public Radio International:

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

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

Media reports on Rukban … from abroad

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

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

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

Ghali ISIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calling on the U.S. to close the camp

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

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

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

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

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

Syria Rukban

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

Halldorsson noted official UN statements, including:

“Alleged mistreatment of Rukban returnees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very little actual coverage

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

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

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

In March, journalist Sharmine Narwani tweeted in part that,

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

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

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

Merchants, armed groups and Americans

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

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

Rukban evacuation

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

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

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

Syria Rukban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria Rukban

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

TERRORIST LEADERS CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY COURT; SAR SECURITY UNCOVERS VAST ZIONIST/GULF SUPPLIED WEAPONS DEPOTS; MORE PROBING OPERATIONS BY RATS IN HAMA FAIL; MASS GRAVES WITH HUNDREDS FOUND BY SYRIAN SECURITY IN DZ S

SYRIA-CONFLICT : News Photo

‘Issaam Al-Buwaydhaani, a/k/a Abu Hammaam Al-Buwaydhaani, (from Douma) is seen here studying the 12-year old catamites he has been gifted by the Qataris.  This Salafist is now on death-row. He is the head of Jaysh Al-Islaam, having been elected to that post after the Syrian Air Force turned his predecessor into infected hamburger meat in 2015, to wit:  Zahraann ‘Alloosh.  (Photo: Getty images) 

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(Photo: BBC)  This is Abu Muhammad Al-Jawlaani, whose real name I will address shortly.  Needless to say, this murdering villain, this noisome rodent, is responsible for so many deaths it should come as no surprise that he is on the new list of criminals sentenced to die at the hands of the Syrian State.

DAMASCUS:  A Syrian Criminal Court announced yesterday the sentence of death in absentia for over 70 individuals accused of terrorist-inspired murder.  Among the condemned are leaders of major terrorist groups funded by the Gulf states and the West.  What this really means is that the Syrian Army can forget about capturing these lice.  They have been given a license to kill the terrorists no matter what the protocol might have been beforehand.  As the Syrian Army begins its restoration of Idlib to the homeland, it has been given free rein to find these toxic microbes and put them to death by whichever way is most appropriate.

In the case of Abu Muhammad Al-Jawlaani, the chief of Hay`at Tahreer Al-Shaam, the former Jabhat Al-Nusra, the former Al-Qaeda, he has been named by your editor on many occasions as Usaamaa Al-‘Absi Al-Waahidi.  The court in Damascus has announced his name as Muhammad Hussayn Al-Shara‘.  My information was that his name was Al-Waahidi and that he was born in the town of Al-Shaheel in Dayr El-Zor.  I must defer to the courts in Damascus since they would have access to much more information than me.  It appears that this rodent is from Der’ah province and not from DZ.

The head of the Noor-Al-Deen Al-Zangi terrorist group, “Al-Shaykh” Tawfeeq Shihaab-Al-Deen, is also on this list of murderers.

With the recent announcement of retirement for hundreds of officers who had completed 5 years of military service, and with the massing of over 150,000 troops around Idlib, and this judicial sentence of death, you can feel the war coming to an end.

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DER’AH: 

أسلحة بينها صواريخ إسرائيلية الصنع من مخلفات الإرهابيين غرب مدينة نوى بدرعا

NASEEB CROSSING AREA:  Syrian security services and SAA Engineering Corps uncovered yet another warehouse filled with weapons here a few kilometers from the recently opened crossing between Jordan and Syria, about 12 kms due southeast of the provincial capital.  Thanks to King ‘Abdullah II, the terrorists who held this important lifeline were able to receive millions of dollars in weapons and medicine via ‘Aqaba, courtesy of Saudi Arabia, the United States, Qatar and the awkward central command center outside ‘Ammaan (MOK).

NAWAA This once-sleepy town just West of Der’ah was being swept for IEDs and mines when, lo and behold, 2 separate warehouses were uncovered containing an amazing number of Zionist and Western-manufactured weapons including LAO rockets (19, 22, 27, 82 mms), RPGs, Malotka rockets, military grade TNT and a whole host of other malignant instruments of death.

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NORTH HAMA:

Kataa’ib Al-‘Izza, who receive their orders from Abu Muhammad Al-Jawlaani, once again, initiated suicidal probing operations directed at the SAA positioned at Zilleen.  They came out of the lice-infested rural area of Al-Lataamina and managed to fall into another trap set by the SAA.  This time their every movement was being monitored by drones and they could hardly claim the element of surprise.  4 rodents were confirmed killed with others scurrying back to whence they came.

But that debacle wasn’t enough, for they attacked the SAA from Shalyoot in the environs of Maharda, a largely Christian town, which, like Suqaylbiyya, has a long history of providing some of the best special forces recruits in modern Syrian military history.  The SAA was at Zakaat Village.   The rodents were shocked when the Syrian Army mounted a sudden counterattack with light weapons backed by heavy cannon fire which targeted their route of withdrawal.  And, boy, didn’t they withdraw!  Their entire encampment and fortifications were pulverized.

Then, in an act which could define a “glutton for punishment” specimen, they attacked the SAA base at Al-Hammaamaat and Baryadeej.  The army spotted them easily and wiped out the entire nest of rodents.  According to Wael, none of the attackers survived.

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DAYR EL-ZOR AT AL-BU-KAMAAL:

AL-BU-KAMAAL:  Needless to say, the Western media will not report this, because it makes the Syrian state look good, the Syrian army’s Engineering Corps uncovered a network of 7 cemeteries used by ISIS to bury the cadavers of citizens whom they tortured and murdered.  The 7 cemeteries contained hundreds of bodies with clear signs on them of torture.  The Syrian Red Cross is there to help in removing the corpses which have been there so long that they have stopped being infectious. Most cannot be identified because their documents were seized and because the deterioration was so extensive.

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – DEC. 4, 2018: 270 SYRIAN ARMY ELIMINATED 270 ISIS MEMBERS IN AL-SUWAYDA PROVINCE

South Front

Government forces have eliminated more than 270 ISIS members as well as seized a large amount of weapons and munition, including 12 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, in the province of al-Suwayda since middle November, Oleg Makarevich, a spokesman for the command of the Russian task force in Syria, announced on December 3.

“The terrorists had been there for a long time, flocking to the area for several months. Among them were militants who were able to leave Yarmouk and Damascus in advance and also arrived from al-Tanf. Another difficulty was that tanks and heavy artillery have very limited maneuverability there, while the militants had many grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and 82mm mortars,” the spokesman stated.

380km2 in eastern al-Suwayda was declared fully liberated from ISIS by the Syrian state media on November 17. Despite this, according to local sources, some number of ISIS cells still hide in the desert area south of al-Safa. Furthermore, a large presence of ISIS can observed in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert. Therefore, claims of some pro-government sources that the terrorist group was fully eliminated on the western bank of the Euphrates are premature.

The US-controlled zone of al-Tanf is being actively used by ISIS terrorists as a safe haven to hide from Syrian Army attacks and to re-locate its forces in eastern Syria. While it exists, it’s not likely that ISIS cells could be fully wiped out in this part of the country.

From its side, the US-led coalition is contributing every possible effort to prevent any security operations of the Syrian Army near the al-Tanf zone. On December 2, the coalition shelled Syrian Army positions near the al-Ghurab mount at the border with Iraq. The US-led force reportedly employed M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) deployed at the al-Tanaf base.

The formal reason of the attack is unknown but US forces had repeatedly attacked Syrian Army units pursuing terrorists in the area on the edge of the so-called security zone near al-Tanf.

On December 3, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) released a statement claiming that 11 Turkish-backed militants had been killed by the group in two fresh attacks in the Syrian area of Afrin.

On December 2, a YPG unit attacked a Jaysh al-Islam patrol in the village of Dermishmishe, near Afrin city. 5 Jaysh al-Islam members were reportedly killed and 3 others were wounded in the attack. Their vehicle was also destroyed.

On the same day, YPG fighters destroyed a military vehicle stationed at the headquarters of Ahrar al-Sham in the town of Jinderese. 6 Turkish-backed militants were killed and 8 others were wounded, according to the YPG report.

YPG attacks in Afrin will likely continue until the Turkish military and its proxies establish an effective security network in this part of Turkish-occupied Syria. However, a widely known incompetence and corruption within Turkish-backed militant groups delay and in some case even sabotage these Ankara-led efforts.

Related News

Turkish Army reportedly keeping 50,000 jihadists on alert for Idlib battle

Source

free syrian army

The Turkish army has put over 50,000 gunmen of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on alert to use them in the battlefields against the Syrian Army troops in Idlib province, a Turkish-language paper claimed on Monday.

Yeni Safak daily claimed that the Turkish army has kept more than 50,000 FSA terrorists on alert in Afrin, Azaz, Jarabulus, al-Bab and al-Rai regions to further sent them to battle against the Syrian government forces’ operation in Idlib province.

It further said that 30,000 FSA gunmen are in regions under the occupation of the Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch forces, “and a sum 20,000 FSA fighters are to be transferred to Idlib to counter the Damascus forces’ upcoming operation”.

The daily went on to say that Turkish army has urged its allied militants to report the exact number of their gunmen and volume of arms and ammunition.

It said that the Turkish army has in recent days sent a number of cannons and missile launchpads to the borders with Syria and has reinvigorated its forces’ combat capabilities.

The London-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported earlier today that Jeish al-Islam terrorist group has deployed its fighters at contact lines with the Syrian Army in Eastern Aleppo after coordination with Turkey-backed militants.

SOHR said that Jeish al-Islam has started deploying militants in more than ten contact points with the Syrian Army in Tadif in Northeastern Aleppo after coordination with Ankara-backed Ahrar al-Sharqiyeh.

It further said that Jeish al-Islam set up a large base in the town of Afrin after retreating from Eastern Ghouta, adding Jeish al-Islam stationed its fighters in Afrin base.

SOHR said that Jeish al-Islam has also set up several bases in Aleppo province.

In the meantime, the Syrian Army dispatched more troops and equipment to the contact lines with Tahrir al-Sham Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in a large region from Jam’iyat al-Zahra and al-Lairamoun industrial zone up to the small town of Kafr Hamra in Northwestern Aleppo and from al-Malah farms to the small towns of Haraytan, Hayan, Anadan and Bayanoun in Northern Aleppo.

Also, the army has forwarded a large number of forces and military hardware to contact lines with Ankara-backed terrorists known as the Olive Branch Forces in Aleppo province.

 

DECISION TO BRING WHITE HELMETS TO CANADA DANGEROUS AND CRIMINAL

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August 10, 2018, RT.com

by Eva Bartlett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Helmets next to terrorists’ headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who killed the civilians in White Helmets Douma videos?

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

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

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

Canadian cover for White Helmets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED LINKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Front

30.05.2018

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

FILE IMAGE

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking: Two mass graves discovered in Douma, over 200 bodies found

According to the source, one of the mass graves had a total of 172 bodies inside of it and the other 40 bodies.

One of the mass graves were found at the Al-Naqal Regiment Base and the other inside the town of Al-Shifouniyah.

The uncovered bodies had decayed, indicating that they had been there for a few years.

The bodies in these mass graves are believed to be Syrian Arab Army soldiers that were captured and later executed by Jaysh Al-Islam during their military campaign in 2013.

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REMAINING HAY’AT TAHRIR AL-SHAM FIGHTERS IN SOUTHERN DAMASCUS PREPARE TO WITHDRAW

South Front

03.05.2018

Remaining Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Fighters In Southern Damascus Prepare To Withdraw

Evacuation buses south of Damascus city, by SANA

On May 2, the remaining fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Jaysh al-Islam and Jaysh al-Ababil south of the Syrian capital of Damascus started their final preparations to withdraw from their positions under the evacuation agreement reached with the government on April 29.

The Syrian opposition news outlet Enab Baladi said that bulldozers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had begn removing the barriers around the militants’ positions in the districts of Aqraba, Beit Sahm, Yalda and Babbila. Meanwhile, Syrian pro-government sources reported that the evacuation process will begin on the afternoon of May 3 and could last for a week.

According to reports, Jaysh al-Islam fighters will withdraw towards the Turkish-held town of Jarabulus, HTS fighters will withdraw to Idlib governorate and Jaysh al-Ababil fighters will withdraw to Daraa governorate.

Earlier, HTS fighters completed their withdrawal from their positions in the northern part of the Yarmouk refugee camp, west of Yalda district, and SAA units were deployed there.

According to observers, the evacuation agreement will allow the SAA to open another front against the besieged ISIS fighters in the Yarmouk camp, thus significantly increasing the pressure on the terrorist group.

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ما جدوى حديث الغرب عن الحلّ السياسي في سورية؟

أبريل 24, 2018

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

ظنّ من ارتكب العدوان الثلاثي على سورية أنه سيرهبها وحلفاءها في محور المقاومة وروسيا، وأنه بالتهويل السابق للعدوان وبـ «الصواريخ الذكية واللطيفة والحديثة» على حدّ زعم ترامب، قادر على انتزاع ما عجز عن تحقيقه طيلة سنوات سبع من عمر العدوان على سورية.

بيد أنّ نتائج العدوان المبتدأ بتلفيق كيماوي والمنفذ بضربة صاروخية إجرامية وما بينهما من حرب نفسية، جاءت عكسية تماماً، لأنها بعد إخفاقها في تحقيق أيّ هدف في الميدان، عقدت الأمر سياسياً وجعلت قوى العدوان في موقع الطرف المنعدم الثقة به كلياً والمرفوض في المشاركة بأيّ عمل سياسي يتصل بالبحث عن حلّ في الأزمة وحملت أو أتاحت لسورية وحلفائها الانتقال الى استراتيجية تطهير وتحرير شاملة تنفذ وفقاً لجدول أولويات يوضع في رأسه الفضاء الأمني اللصيق بدمشق وبشعاع يصل إلى 50 كلم على الأقلّ ويليه الفضاء الأمني الأوسط الذي يتركّز بشكل خاص على ريفي حمص وحماة، وسواه من المناطق الوسطى في البادية وانتهاء بالفضاء الاستراتيجي الحدودي على اتجاهاته الأربعة شاملاً الاحتلالات الأجنبية من أميركية وتركية وإسرائيلية وأيّ وجود أجنبي وإرهابي معلن أو مضمر.

ونستطيع القول الآن وبعد الإنجاز الاستراتيجي الهامّ الذي حققته سورية في الغوطة الشرقية أنّ المشهد السوري تغيّر جذرياً وأنّ عملية التطهير والتحرير التامّ الناجز ستنطلق من محيط دمشق لتصلَ إلى الحدود من دون أن توقفها أو تعيقها صعوبة، وتعتمد مبدأ الحسم الميداني بأيّ شكل من الأشكال سواء تطلّب الأمر قتالاً وعملاً عسكرياً عالي الشدة، أو اكتُفي فيه بالعمل التفاوضي التصالحي المستند إلى منظومة العفو والمصالحة التي أرست أسسها واعتمدتها الحكومة السورية بقيادة الرئيس الأسد منذ بدء الأزمة أملاً منها باستعادة من ضلّ عن الجادة لإنقاذه من موقع كارثي أدخل نفسه فيه.

وعلى هذا الأساس بات لكلّ منطقة أسلوب تحريرها المناسب بقتال أو من غير قتال، وفقاً لما يختار المسلحون فيها، وهذا ما يسجّل اليوم وفي الآن معاً في كلّ من الحجر الأسود والقلمون الشرقي. ففي حين أنّ صراع الإرهابيين في ما بينهم عطل الاتفاق والمصالحة في المكان الأول، كان الإذعان من قبل مسلحي القلمون الشرقي طريقاً للتحرير من غير قتال وإجلاء مَن رفض البقاء في بيته والانخراط بمقتضيات المصالحة بإجلائه الى موقع تكديس الإرهابيين بانتظار موعد هم ملاقوه في مواجهة الجيش العربي السوري قريباً، هذا إذا استمروا هناك حتى وصوله.

أما في العملية السياسية فإنّ شأنها اليوم اختلف عما كان قائماً جذرياً أيضاً، فإذا انطلقنا من فكرة أنّ الحلّ السياسي سيكون نتيجة حوار بين السوريين، فإنّ هناك فئة من السوريين الذين خرجوا على وطنهم ويُراد لهم ان يكونوا جزءاً من الحلّ رغم استمرارهم أداة بيد معسكر العدوان على سورية. وهنا التعقيد في الأمر، لأنّ هذا المعسكر بمستوياته المقرّرة فقد أوراق الضغط الأساسية التي كان يعوّل عليها لتمكّنه من فرض شروط وحصد مكتسبات شاءها منذ أن أطلق عدوانه. ولهذا سيحاول هذا المعسكر استعمال الأوراق الباقية على وهنها في وظيفة تفوق قدرتها على الإنتاج. وهو في موضع المرفوض أصلاً. وهنا ترسم صورة فيها أنّ معسكر العدوان لديه أوراق لا تناسب طموحه، ومعسكر الدفاع يتمسّك بحقوق لا يتنازل عنها أو يسلّم بشيء منها الى المعتدي.

ويزيد المسألة تعقيداً أنّ أوراق معسكر العدوان في طريقها للتعطيل او للإلغاء مع تقدّم العمل السوري في الميدان، رغم المحاولات المستميتة التي يبذلها المعتدون للاحتفاظ بها بيدهم او نقلها إلى يد أخرى برعايتهم، وهنا نطلّ على ما لدى المعتدي من أوراق فنتوقف عند التالي:

1 ـ ورقة النازحين واللاجئين السوريين الى الخارج، إن استمرار هؤلاء في أماكن لجوئهم خارج سورية يجسّد شاهداً على استمرار الأزمة، ويشكّل برأي المعتدي ضغطاً على الحكومة السورية، ولذلك يعملون كلّ ما يستطيعون لمنع حلّ مشكلة النازحين أو تسهيل عودتهم الى منازلهم، رغم ما توفّره الحكومة السورية من تسهيلات على شتّى الصعد. كلّ مَن يعرقل عودة نازح إنما يخدم أعداء سورية إن لم يكن أصلاً خصماً أو عدواً لسورية وللشعب السوري أياً كان وأياً كانت خلفيته .

2 ـ ورقة الضغط الاقتصادي وما يسمّونه عقوبات على النظام السوري. صحيح أن هذه الورقة تؤلم. وتضرّر منها الشعب السوري كثيراً، لكن سورية تكيّفت مع الوضع وها هو سعر صرف الليرة السورية شاهد بتحسّنه على ذلك.

3 ـ ورقة ما تبقى من مجموعات إرهابية في ادلب وخارجها. تبذل أميركا ومعها أتباعها الإقليميون الدوليون ما في وسعها لمنع الجيش العربي السوري من متابعة تصفية الإرهاب، في ما تبقى من أرض سورية يقيم عليها وهي لا تتجاوز الـ 15 في المئة من المساحة السورية التي كان يسيطر عليها، لكن القرار السوري الحاسم كما قدمنا واضح في متابعة الحرب على الإرهاب وليس مثل الغوطة الشرقية ببعيد.

4 ـ ورقة الاحتلال خاصة الاحتلال الأميركي والتركي واليد الإسرائيلية في منطقة الجنوب الغربي، احتلالات قائمة مع التلويح بمشاريع تقسيمية بأشكال متعددة تبدأ بالقول بالحكم الذاتي وتمرّ بالفيدرالية وصولا الى الانفصال الناجز. وفي المقابل بات لدى سورية من القوة والقدرات ما يجعل كل هذه المشاريع ساقطة على أصلها غير قابلة للولادة على قيد الحياة.

هذه الأوراق التي يتمسك بها العدوان من أجل الضغط على سورية وإجبارها على القبول ببيان جنيف الأول بيان 2012 الانتدابي الاستعماري ، تحت طائلة منع تسهيل الحل على أساس أي وثيقة أخرى بما فيها القرار 2254 . هذا البيان الانتدابي الذي احتشدوا في السويد لإحيائه بالأمس ويهمون للاجتماع في بروكسل غداً لإعطائه شحنة تحرّكه، هو بيان عفا عليه الزمن وبات المعتدون أمام خيارين الآن: إما القبول ببيان سوتشي الاستقلالي والعمل بموجبه بصرف النظر عن المكان الذي يستأنف فيه التفاوض، والانتظار حتى تتآكل الأوراق التي بيدهم الواحدة تلو الأخرى وعندها لن يكون الأمر بحاجة الى بيانات ومواقف ويكون الوضع مستجيباً لبيت الشعر العربي «السيف أصدق إنباء من الكتب»، وعلى العاقل أن يفهم أن مسار الأزمة السورية بعد تحرير الغوطة اختلف جذرياً عما قبله وعليه أن يأخذ بهذا على أقصى محمل الجدّ.

ومع هذا القرار السوري التحريري الموضوع موضع التنفيذ الجدّي والصارم والمدعوم من قبل حلفاء أقوياء صادقين لن يكون قلق أو خشية أو خوف من كلّ ما يروّج العدو والخصم من قول بفصل درعا أو إحلال قوات عربية مكان قوات أميركية تهمّ بالرحيل قبل أن تنفجر المقاومة بوجهها، أو استعداد تركي للتوسّع الاحتلالي نحو تل رفعت أو إدلب أو سعي غربي للمحافظة على داعش في شرق سورية. فكلّ هذه الأهداف أدرجت في لائحة الأولويات السورية للعمل العسكري الذي لا يخرج في بعض المناطق عن ضرورة الأخذ بعنصر المفاجأة.

أستاذ جامعي وباحث استراتيجي

مقالات مشابهة

IN VIDEOS, PHOTOS: GOVERNMENT FORCES DEVELOPING MOMENTUM IN SOUTHERN DAMASCUS

South Front

21.04.2018

In Videos, Photos: Government Forces Developing Momentum In Southern Damascus

Click to see the full-size image

Syrian government forces are increasing pressure on militants in the Yarmouk refugee camp area in southern Damascus. According to reprots, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have made a series minor advances against both ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham there. The goal of the effort is to force militants to surrender and to to accept a withdrawal agreement. MORE HERE

In Videos, Photos: Government Forces Developing Momentum In Southern Damascus

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Videos:

Photos:

In Videos, Photos: Government Forces Developing Momentum In Southern Damascus

Click to see the full-size image

In Videos, Photos: Government Forces Developing Momentum In Southern Damascus

Click to see the full-size image

In Videos, Photos: Government Forces Developing Momentum In Southern Damascus

Click to see the full-size image

In Videos, Photos: Government Forces Developing Momentum In Southern Damascus

Click to see the full-size image

SYRIAN ARMY CAPTURES NEW POSITIONS FROM ISIS IN SOUTHERN DAMASCUS (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

On April 21, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) continued their military operation against ISIS pocket south of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

They captured the al-Mujahedeen mosque in the southeastern part of al-Hajar al-Aswad district, according to Syrian pro-government sources.

Warplanes of the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) and the Russian Aerospace Forces supported the government advance carrying out a new wave of airstrikes against the fuel and ammo depots of ISIS in the al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the Yarmouk refugee camp.

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that ISIS fighters had repelled two attack by the SAA on their positions in the southern parts of al-Qadam and Tadamon. ISIS fighters killed six soldiers of the SAA and captured their light weapons, according to the source.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the negotiations between the Damascus movement and ISIS is still ongoing and said that the deal is near.

According to Syrian pro-government activists, ISIS accepted most of the demands of the Damascus government on April 20. However, the SAA and its allies will not stop their military operation until the terrorist group approves and fulfills all the demands.

Photos of the SAA attack on the ISIS-held pocket south of Damascus:

Syrian Army Captures New Positions From ISIS In Southern Damascus (Video, Photos)

By Damascus Now, click to see the full-size image

Syrian Army Captures New Positions From ISIS In Southern Damascus (Video, Photos)

By Damascus Now, click to see the full-size image

Syrian Army Captures New Positions From ISIS In Southern Damascus (Video, Photos)

By Damascus Now, click to see the full-size image

Syrian Army Captures New Positions From ISIS In Southern Damascus (Video, Photos)

By Damascus Now, click to see the full-size image

Syrian Army Captures New Positions From ISIS In Southern Damascus (Video, Photos)

By Damascus Now, click to see the full-size image

Syrian Army Captures New Positions From ISIS In Southern Damascus (Video, Photos)

By Damascus Now, click to see the full-size image

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صيد ثمين في الغوطة الشرقية سرّع العدوان الثلاثي الفاشل على سورية

في أبريل 19, 2018

صيد ثمين في الغوطة الشرقية سرّع العدوان الثلاثي الفاشل على سورية

لم تكن شعوب العالم، خصوصاً العربية منها، بحاجة إلى دليل على المدى الذي وصلإليه الانحدار الاميركي والغربي الاستعماري اخلاقياً وانسانياً، ولا بحاجة إلى برهان عن المدى الذي وصلت اليه دول الرجعية العربية وخصوصاً باعة الكاز العربي، من التبعية والتواطؤ مع العدو الصهيوني، وسيدهم الاميركي.

هؤلاء الاعراب هللوا كثيراً للعدوان الثلاثي الاميركي – الفرنسي- البريطاني على سورية، لا بل مولوا هذا العدوان ووفروا له كل اسباب الدعم المادي والمالي.

وكعادته الاميركي والغربي لتبرير عدوانه وحروبه الهمجية، يختلق شتى الاكاذيب والذرائع لتبرير عدوانه.. بيد أن هذه المرة، في عدوانه الذي اخفق في تحقيق أي نتيجة، كان يحاول أن ينقذ مجاميع الارهابيين في ظل الانتصارات التي حققها الجيش العربي السوري في الغوطة والتي انتهت بتحريرها بشكل كامل وجعل من دمشق امنة تماماً.

وإذا كان هذا العدوان الغربي مدعوم خليجياً بمليارات الدولارات تحت ذريعة “الكيميائي” الكاذبة، لكن وفقاً لمعلومات دقيقة، فإن الجيش العربي السوري تمكن من تحقيق صيد ثمين، وصفه خبراء عسكريون بأنه لا يقدر بثمن، وضعت القيادة السورية حلفاءها، خصوصاً الروسي والإيراني بحقيقة هذا “الصيد الثمين”، والذي هو سقوط قتلى واسرى أميركيين وبريطانيين وخليجيين وصهاينة برتب عالية عسكرية وفي أجهزة المخابرات كانوا يشرفون ويعملون مع المجموعات الارهابية، وهو ما جعلهم يجن جنونهم، ويهددون بالويل والثبور وعظائم الامور، لكن برودة الاعصاب السورية، والموقفين الايراني والروسي الشديدين، ومعرفتهما بالوقائع والحقائق الميدانية، افلتت من يد الاميركيين واتباعهم، وصار كل همهم الآن العودة باسراهم وبتوابيت قتلاهم، وهو الامر الذي يجعل الارتباك لدى حلف العدوان على سورية في تصاعد، في ظل معلومات تؤكد ان النقمة الداخلية تتزايد على التهور السعودي الذي أصبح يخبط في كل اتجاه دون أن يحقق إصابة أي هدف.

هذا الواقع بات يطرح اسئلة ملحة:

ماذا تجني دولة الكاز الكبرى مع اتباعها، من الحروب المدمرة التي تغذيها بمليارات الدولارات لاستهداف واسقاط الحضارات الانسانية الكبرى التي مر عبرها طريق الحرير منذ 3 الاف عام قبل الميلاد والتي تمتد من ما قبل بلاد فارس (ايران) وتمر في بلاد ما بين النهرين (العراق) وبلاد الشام (سورية الطبيعية)، وبلاد الفراعنة (مصر).

دولة الكاز الكبرى سبق لها ان مولت وامدت صدام حسين لشن حربه العبثية على ايران بعد نجاح ثورتها بقيادة آية الله الموسوي الخميني، وبعدها للتخلص من صدام حسين، دفعت مملكة الذهب الأسود كما تفيد الوثائق نحو 54 مليار دولار لاسقاطه فكان الغزو الاميركي لبلاد الرافدين، لتصير هذه البلاد حليفة لايران، بفضل دعم الأخيرة للمقاومين للغزو الاميركي.

ووسعت دولة الكاز وحلفاؤها عداءها نحو الجمهورية الاسلامية، وكل حليف أو صديق لها، فدفعت مليارات الدولارات لهزيمة المقاومة في لبنان، فكان الانتصار المدوي أولاً في شهر ايار 2000، الذي دحر فيه العدو الصهيوني عن معظم الجنوب اللبناني دون قيد أو شرط، وزادت التمويل لهذه المهمة، فكانت حرب تموز 2006، التي اعلنت بائعة الكاز الكبرى انحيازها ضد من وصفتهم بـ “المغامرين”، فكان الانتصار العظيم الذي قهر جيش العدو الذي كان يوصف بـ “الجيش الذي لا يقهر”.

وحينما وجدت أن انتصارات وصمود المقاومة في لبنان وغزة، صارت ملهماً للشعوب العربية للدفاع عن اسقلالها الوطني وحريتها، اتجهت مملكة آل سعود واتباعها وحلفائها، بالطبع مع السيد الاميركي نحو الدولة التي تعتبر القلب الذي يضخ القوة والإرادة في شرايين المقاومة، وعنينا بها سورية، ودفعت ما يفوق 150 مليار دولار، من اجل هزيمة سورية، وتفكيكها وفك حلفها الوثيق مع ايران والمقاومات العربية، وهي ما تزال تدفع وتدفع من أحل المهمة التي تتحطم في ظل الصمود الاسطوري للجيش العربي السوري، وحلفائه.. لا بل صارت العلاقة عضوية بين حلف المقاومة والممانعة الذي يسجل انتصارات باهرة على حلف العدوان الاستعماري – الصهيوني – الرجعي.

وفي ظل التنافس المدمر الذي تخوضه مملكة آل سعود لزعامة المنطقة والعالم الاسلامي، دفعت عشرات مليارات الدولارات لاسقاط اردوغان، الذي لم يجد بداً من الوقوع في الحضن الايراني والروسي، كما دفعت مليارات الدولارات لمحاربة تميم بن حمد في قطر، مما اضطرة الدوحة لمد اليد إلى ايران.

ودفعت السعودية وما تزال تدفع المليارات من الدولارات لاسقاط اليمن، وجعله جزءاً من مشروعها وطموحاتها، فكان أن صمد وقاوم وواجه، وها هي الصواريخ اليمنية تتساقط في الرياض، لدرجة أن شدة الخوف جعلتها تنقل القمة العربية من عاصمتها الى الظهران.

ودفعت السعودية وباعة الكاز مئات مليارات الدولارات لـ “شايلوك” الاميركي من اجل اسقاط “الاتفاقية النووية” مع ايران، لكن رفض الدول الاوروبية، لهذا الامر، جعلها تطلب، ود ايران وتحذر الاميركي من الاقدام على هذه الخطوة، بشكل سارع فيه المسؤولون الاوروبيون نحو طهران لتأكيد رفضهم لأي خطوة أميركية في هذا الاتجاه، وحولت طهران تعاملاتها المالية إلى اليورو.

وبشكل عام، فالعرب الذين يشكلون نحو خمسة بالمئة من سكان العالم، يشترون بفضل الجنون الخليجي اكثر من خمسين بالمئة من سلاح العالم، في وقت لا يوجد فيه مركز أبحاث علمية جدير بالثقة العلمية، في نفس الوقت الذي تشير فيه الاحصائيات أن اكثر من 60 بالمئة من اللاجئين في العالم، هم من العرب، فماذا لو أضفنا اليهم اللاجئون من دول اسلامية غير عربية كالباكستان وافغانستان وغيرهما..

أحمد زين الدين- الثبات

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – APRIL 19, 2018: JOURNALISTS FIND BOY FILMED IN STAGED VIDEO OF CHEMIAL ATTACK IN DOUMA

South Front

A group of Russian correspondents led by Evgeny Poddubny has found a boy filmed by the White Helmets in their video showing people “affected” by the alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7.

According to Poddubny:

  • 11-year-old Hassan Diab is fine;
  • He suffered no injures from the “chemical attack” because there was no attack (at least then and there);
  • The boy participated in the video for food (rice, dates and cookies).

Poddubny also contacted Hassan’s father – he also said that there was no chemical attack in the town.

The April 7 case was not the first time when the White Helmets and other pro-militant organizations used kids for propaganda purposes. During the battle for Aleppo in 2016, a photo of Omran Daqneesh after alleged strike by Russian warplanes became popular in the mainstream media (MSM) and then was used in a wide-scale campaign against the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance’s operation in the city.

After the liberation of Aleppo, Omran’s father accused militants of using his son as a propaganda tool and praised efforts of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to liberate the city.

Another widely known case is Bana al-Abed, that thanks to the MSM, became a popular twitter blogger constantly accusing the SAA of civilian casualties and other crimes during the operation to liberate Aleppo. De-facto, her content was one big accusation against the SAA.

The only problem is that Bana was almost unable to speak English in 2016 and her account was run by her mother, according to a later version designed to explain how the girl was able to produce all that text and video content.
Russian journalists are not alone in finding no evidence of the chemical attack allegedly conducted by the Assad government.

Pearson Sharp, a reporter of One America News Network also visited the city and found that all the locals say that the chemical attack had been fabricated by militants. Robert Fisk, a Middle East correspondent of The Independent, also visited the site and found no evidence of the attack. However, such reports from the ground face a strong criticism by or ignorance in the MSM.

On April 18, the SAA and the Tiger Forces launched a military operation against militants in eastern Qalamoun. Government troops advanced near the town of al-Ruhaybah and captured the Hawash area.

The advance took place as militants in al-Dumayr are surrendering their heavy weapons and preparing for evacuation. According to the state-run media, about 1,500 militants and 5,000 members of their families will withdraw towards Jarabulus.

The situation in the Rastan pocket was stabilized as the SAA and local militants reached a temporary ceasefire and agreed to re-launch negotiations on a reconciliation deal.

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Syrian Army uncovers massive rebel tunnel network in Douma

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:40 A.M.) – Footage from Monday showed a massive labyrinth of underground tunnels used by the Jaish al-Islam militant group sprawling under the recently-liberated Douma in Eastern Ghouta.

“The warehouse in Douma is like a city beneath a city… tunnel upon tunnel, even extending to the other [Western] Ghouta,” a local said.

 According to one resident of Douma, rebels starved the locals to force them to work on the tunnels’ clearance and reinforcement. “It took about a month or two to move the rubble and reinforce these locations,” he said.

“They [the Jaish al-Islam militant group] starved us, besieged us, they traded in our blood. As you see, these tunnels are massive…They had captives work on them, as well as civilians. They wouldn’t feed those who wouldn’t work,” another resident added.

The tunnel is 15 metres (49ft) deep and is equipped with electricity, rooms, parking lots and workshops. Weapons and underground artillery were also found inside.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) announced on Saturday that it had “fully liberated” the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, after the last group of militants was evacuated from the area.

Video credit: Ruptly

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Video: On the Ground in Syria with Vanessa Beeley

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The Search for Truth in the Rubble of Douma

Robert Fisk

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.

Douma

War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the “jihadi” gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as “terrorists” – the regime’s word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?

By bad luck, too, the doctors who were on duty that night on 7 April were all in Damascus giving evidence to a chemical weapons enquiry, which will be attempting to provide a definitive answer to that question in the coming weeks.

France, meanwhile, has said it has “proof” chemical weapons were used, and US media have quoted sources saying urine and blood tests showed this too. The WHO has said its partners on the ground treated 500 patients “exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals”.

At the same time, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits.

Before we go any further, readers should be aware that this is not the only story in Douma. There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed groups. These particular “jihadis” survived under a blizzard of shellfire by living in other’s people’s homes and in vast, wide tunnels with underground roads carved through the living rock by prisoners with pick-axes on three levels beneath the town. I walked through three of them yesterday, vast corridors of living rock which still contained Russian – yes, Russian – rockets and burned-out cars.

So the story of Douma is thus not just a story of gas – or no gas, as the case may be. It’s about thousands of people who did not opt for evacuation from Douma on buses that left last week, alongside the gunmen with whom they had to live like troglodytes for months in order to survive. I walked across this town quite freely yesterday without soldier, policeman or minder to haunt my footsteps, just two Syrian friends, a camera and a notebook. I sometimes had to clamber across 20-foot-high ramparts, up and down almost sheer walls of earth. Happy to see foreigners among them, happier still that the siege is finally over, they are mostly smiling; those whose faces you can see, of course, because a surprising number of Douma’s women wear full-length black hijab.

I first drove into Douma as part of an escorted convoy of journalists. But once a boring general had announced outside a wrecked council house “I have no information” – that most helpful rubbish-dump of Arab officialdom – I just walked away. Several other reporters, mostly Syrian, did the same. Even a group of Russian journalists – all in military attire – drifted off.

It was a short walk to Dr Rahaibani. From the door of his subterranean clinic – “Point 200”, it is called, in the weird geology of this partly-underground city – is a corridor leading downhill where he showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye.

“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred meters from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”

Oddly, after chatting to more than 20 people, I couldn’t find one who showed the slightest interest in Douma’s role in bringing about the Western air attacks. Two actually told me they didn’t know about the connection.

But it was a strange world I walked into. Two men, Hussam and Nazir Abu Aishe, said they were unaware how many people had been killed in Douma, although the latter admitted he had a cousin “executed by Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] for allegedly being ‘close to the regime'”. They shrugged when I asked about the 43 people said to have died in the infamous Douma attack.

The White Helmets – the medical first responders already legendary in the West but with some interesting corners to their own story – played a familiar role during the battles. They are partly funded by the Foreign Office and most of the local offices were staffed by Douma men. I found their wrecked offices not far from Dr. Rahaibani’s clinic. A gas mask had been left outside a food container with one eye-piece pierced and a pile of dirty military camouflage uniforms lay inside one room. Planted, I asked myself? I doubt it. The place was heaped with capsules, broken medical equipment and files, bedding and mattresses.

Of course we must hear their side of the story, but it will not happen here: a woman told us that every member of the White Helmets in Douma abandoned their main headquarters and chose to take the government-organized and Russian-protected buses to the province of Idlib with the armed groups when the final truce was agreed.

There were food stalls open and a patrol of Russian military policemen – a now optional extra for every Syrian ceasefire – and no-one had even bothered to storm into the forbidding prison near Martyr’s Square where victims were supposedly beheaded in the basements. The town’s complement of Syrian interior ministry civilian police – who eerily wear military clothes – are watched over by the Russians who may or may not be watched by the civilians. Again, my earnest questions about gas were met with what seemed genuine perplexity.

How could it be that Douma refugees who had reached camps in Turkey were already describing a gas attack which no-one in Douma today seemed to recall? It did occur to me, once I was walking for more than a mile through these wretched prisoner-groined tunnels, that the citizens of Douma lived so isolated from each other for so long that “news” in our sense of the word simply had no meaning to them. Syria doesn’t cut it as Jeffersonian democracy – as I cynically like to tell my Arab colleagues – and it is indeed a ruthless dictatorship, but that couldn’t cow these people, happy to see foreigners among them, from reacting with a few words of truth. So what were they telling me?

They talked about the “Islamists” under whom they had lived. They talked about how the armed groups had stolen civilian homes to avoid the Syrian government and Russian bombing. The Jaish el-Islam had burned their offices before they left, but the massive buildings inside the security zones they created had almost all been sandwiched to the ground by air strikes. A Syrian colonel I came across behind one of these buildings asked if I wanted to see how deep the tunnels were. I stopped after well over a mile when he cryptically observed that “this tunnel might reach as far as Britain”. Ah yes, Ms May, I remembered, whose air strikes had been so intimately connected to this place of tunnels and dust. And gas?

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

فيسك: ما تعرض له السكان في دوما يوم الهجوم الكيميائي المزعوم كان نقصا حادا في الأوكسجين

أكد الكاتب الصحفي البريطاني روبرت فيسك أن حملة الأكاذيب التي أثارتها عدد من الدول الغربية بشأن هجوم كيميائي مزعوم في مدينة دوما بالغوطة الشرقية لم تجد من يدعمها في المدينة مع تأكيد طبيب من سكان المدينة نفسها أن الضحايا المزعومين للهجوم كانوا يعانون من نقص حاد في الأوكسجين نتيجة عاصفة غبارية وليس التسمم بالغاز “الكيميائي”.

وقال فيسك في مقال نشره في صحيفة الاندبندنت البريطانية تحت عنوان “البحث عن الحقيقة بين أنقاض دوما”:إنه وخلال لقاء أجراه مع طبيب يدعى عاصم رحيباني من سكان دوما كشف الأخير أن الأشخاص الذين ظهروا كمرضى في أشرطة الفيديو التي صورت الهجوم المزعوم وتم الترويج من خلالها لإصابتهم بأعراض التسمم بغاز كيميائي كانوا في حقيقة الأمر يعانون “من نقص الأوكسجين نتيجة عاصفة غبارية”.

وينقل فيسك عن الطبيب رحيباني قوله في تلك الليلة: “لقد كنت مع عائلتي في المنزل على بعد 300 متر من المشفى لكن كل الأطباء يعلمون ما جرى.. في تلك الليلة كانت هناك اشتباكات وهبت رياح قوية مصحوبة بغيوم ضخمة من الغبار بدأت تتسلل إلى الأقبية والسراديب حيث يقطن الناس وبدأ الناس يصلون إلى المشفى وهم يعانون من نقص الأوكسجين وفجأة صرخ رجل في باب المشفى وهو من (الخوذ البيضاء).. غاز.. وحصل هلع بين الناس وبدأ الناس يرشون الماء على بعضهم البعض.. نعم لقد حصل تسجيل الفيديو هنا ولكن الناس كانوا يعانون من نقص في الأوكسجين وليس من التسمم (بالغاز) “.

وتابع فيسك إنه “ينبغي على القراء أن يدركوا أن رواية الطبيب ليست الوحيدة بهذا المضمون حيث أكد الكثير من الاشخاص الذين التقيتهم في دوما أنهم لا يثقون بروايات الغاز” التي روج لها الإرهابيون.

ولفت فيسك إلى أن ما يسمى “الخوذ البيضاء” التي تتلقى الدعم والتمويل من وزارة الخارجية البريطانية كان لها دور كبير في عمليات المجموعات الإرهابية لافتا إلى أنه اطلع على مكاتب هذه المجموعة في دوما ورأى داخلها اقنعة للغاز ولباسا عسكريا إضافة إلى كبسولات ومعدات طبية مكسورة وملفات.

بدوره انضم “بيرسون شارب” مراسل قناة “ون أميركا نيوز نيتوورك” الأميركية إلى فيسك في تفنيده لرواية الهجوم الكيميائي المزعوم في دوما مؤكدا أنه لم يعثر على أي آثار لمثل هذا الهجوم وقال: إن “السكان المحليين الذين التقاهم هناك لم يروا أو يسمعوا شيئا عن هذا الحادث”.
وأشار شارب إلى أن أحد الأطباء الذي وجد في مستشفى المدينة في يوم الهجوم المزعوم أخبره أن مجموعة من الأشخاص المجهولين اقتحمت المستشفى في السابع من نيسان الماضي زاعمة وقوع هجوم كيميائي وعمد هؤلاء إلى صب الماء على أشخاص أحضروهم إلى المستشفى مصورين كل شيء بواسطة آلة التصوير ثم غادروا المستشفى.

وكانت العديد من الوثائق التي عثر عليها الجيش العربي السوري في المناطق التي حررها من الإرهاب حيث تعمل جماعة “الخوذ البيضاء” كشفت ارتباطها العضوي بالتنظيمات الإرهابية ودعمها لها وخصوصا “جبهة النصرة” بالترويج لاستخدام الأسلحة الكيميائية ضد المدنيين وهذا ما حدث في الغوطة الشرقية بريف دمشق عدة مرات وفي مناطق بحلب لاتهام الجيش العربي السوري.

بينما أكد الكاتب الأميركي كارتا لوتشي أن جماعة “الخوذ البيضاء” ليست إلا “واحدة من المسرحيات الأميركية المضللة للرأي العام وهي منظمة مشبوهة”.

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