Reporter resigns, says Newsweek ‘suppressed’ Syria chemical attack story

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Monday, 09 December 2019 7:35 AM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

This picture shows a bulletproof vest lying at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, April 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A Newsweek reporter has resigned after the American magazine refuses to publish his article questioning Western-backed findings about the origin of a chemical attack in Syria.

Last April, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) published a report alleging that Syria had carried out a chemical attack against its southwestern city of Douma. The United States, Britain, and France later used the report as an excuse to launch a coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near the Syrian capital Damascus and the city of Homs in the Arab country’s west.

The reporter Tareq Haddad submitted his resignation on Friday after his editor refused to publish his article mentioning an internal OPCW email that had revealed inconsistencies between actual findings on the ground by the organization’s experts and the United Nations chemical watchdog’s final report.

“Yesterday, I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason,” Haddad tweeted on Saturday.

Tareq Haddad@Tareq_Haddad

Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.

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The email sent by an OPCW member was revealed by whistleblower website WikiLeaks in late November. In the communication, the inspector had accused the watchdog of doctoring the report, which had been compiled by its experts, who had visited Douma.

The author of the email had rejected as “highly misleading and not supported by facts” the OPCW claim that “sufficient evidence” was found to determine chlorine was “likely released” from cylinders the organization’s experts had analyzed at two different locations in the Syrian city.

Haddad, meanwhile, said he was threatened with legal action after asking his editor why his story about the damning leak had been refused.

“I have collected evidence of how they suppressed the story in addition to evidence from another case where info inconvenient to US govt. was removed [by the outlet], though it was factually correct,” he said.

Fellow journalists, however, lauded Haddad for his courage.

“Newsweek , Newsweek UK, do you have any comment on this tweet from your former reporter Tareq Haddad?” Peter Hitchens of Britain’s The Mail on Sunday paper tweeted. “Mr Haddad, please contact me at The Mail on Sunday in London,” Hitchens added.

Peter Hitchens

@ClarkeMicah

@newsweek . @newsweekuk Do you have any comment on this tweet from your former reporter @Tareq_Haddad? Mr Haddad, please contact me at the Mail on Sunday in London. https://twitter.com/Tareq_Haddad/status/1203274308811993088 

Tareq Haddad@Tareq_Haddad

Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.

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Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the OPCW and the United Nations.

Several reports have previously suggested the use of chlorine against civilians by anti-Damascus militants and Western-backed “rescue workers” in an attempt to implicate Damascus and justify foreign military intervention in the Arab country.

 

Wikileaks: OPCW Modified Chemical Weapons Report on Syria’s Douma had Crucial Details Omitted

Wikileaks: OPCW Modified Chemical Weapons Report on Syria’s Douma had Crucial Details Omitted

By Staff, Agencies

Three countries – the United States, the United Kingdom and France – carried out airstrikes against Syrian government targets, justifying their assault by claiming that the chemical weapons were allegedly used by the Syrian Army.

Wikileaks revealed that the OPCW’s redacted version of the so-called fact-finding report on Douma’s events had been intentionally doctored, misrepresenting the facts that the investigation team found on the ground in Syria after Western powers have attacked Syria.

According to the whistleblower organization, citing an e-mail sent by a member of an OPCW fact-finding mission to Syria to his superiors, this misrepresentation was achieved by selective omission, introducing a bias which undermines the credibility of the report.

The e-mail, exposed by Wikileaks, says that the crucial facts in the redacted version, “…have morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted”, alleging that the document’s fixing was done at the behest of the Office of the Director-General [a post held by Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu at the time].

Notably, the document.,gt said that the OPCW investigators found upon arrival that much of the physical evidence was no longer available.

Local militants have claimed, cited by Western media, that toxic gas came from cylinders dropped from aircraft, alleging Syrian government forces who had complete air superiority at the time. The redacted OPCW report seemed to support these conclusions, but the author of the e-mail outlined aspects he considered “particularly worrisome”.

“Likely one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom. Such chemicals could include… the major ingredient of household chlorine-based bleach. Purposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous”, the leaked e-mail points out, stressing that the redacted report also removed context from a statement in the original draft, which doubted the likelihood of the gas having emanated from cylinders found at the scene in Douma.

The e-mail’s author stressed this was “a major deviation from the original report”.

The redacted OPCW report also dropped another crucial detail about the Douma events. One piece of evidence broadcast across the world was footage claiming victims being treated in a hospital in the alleged aftermath of the attack in Douma. The symptoms shown were, however, not consistent with what witnesses reported seeing that day, the e-mail said.

“Omitting this section of the report [including the epidemiology which has been removed in its entirety] has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified… In this case, the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any other choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the fact-finding mission team, but strongly supported by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to chemical warfare agents”, the e-mail revealed.

Another point of contention is the placement and condition of the cylinders reported to have contained the chemical agent. It has been alleged that their condition may not be consistent with having been dropped from the air making it unlikely that the cylinders were air-dropped, a point also discussed in an unreleased engineering report from OPCW that was earlier leaked by Wikileaks.

“This information was important in assessing the likelihood of the ‘presence’ of toxic chemicals versus the ‘use’ of toxic chemicals”, the e-mail stressed, adding that these particular sections are largely absent from the redacted report.

“I am requesting that the fact-finding report be released in its entirety as I fear that this redacted version no longer reflects the work of the team. The original report contains facts and observations that are all equally valid. The fact that inconsistencies are highlighted or observations not fully understood does not justify their omission. the inconsistencies and observations are based on the evidence and data collected”, the e-mail argued.

Following the publication of the initial OPCW report in March, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed the OPCW ignored evidence provided by Russia and Syria, which confirmed that the attack had been staged by the White Helmets, and expressed concern that the document sought to justify foreign strikes against Syria.

Residents of Douma interviewed earlier were unable to confirm that a chemical attack had taken place. The residents said they knew nothing about such an attack and were not aware of anybody having been affected by toxic chemicals.

The OPCW relied in its probe on data provided by the White Helmets, a rebel-linked group also known as Syria Civil Defence (SCD), that bills itself as a volunteer rescue force. Videos of alleged victims in a hospital being treated for what was claimed to be a chemical gas sparked a media frenzy last year but Russia believes the footage was staged.

The annual conference of the OPCW starts this Monday.

The Death of White Helmets Founder is a Loss for the Syrian People!

White Helmets founder and his wife

 

James Le Mesurier is dead, his body was found near his home in Istanbul, he was the founder of the White Helmets, the group that is involved in ‘humanitarian’ efforts in Syria. That’s the main story.

But why would I say in the title his death is a loss to the Syrian people? His ‘White Helmets‘ group is accused by every Syrian official of atrocities and being the PR arm of al-Qaeda. I’ll throw a few names and hope you’ll find the pattern:

  • Osama Bin Laden, we were told he was the greatest threat to humanity leading al-Qaeda terrorist organization and that his death is the best thing achieved by Obama during his presidency. Did his group end or mushroom in numbers and affiliations after his weird death and dumping his body at sea as per Obama’s special Sharia law?
  • Abu Bakr Baghdadi, we were told he was the greatest threat to humanity leading ISIS, the worse yet terrorist organization during our times, and his killing is the best thing achieved by Trump thus far. Would his group end or mushroom after his death?
  • Jeffrey Epstein, a US billionaire who was heading a child-raping network serving some of the top figures in the world. He died mysteriously in his heavily guarded 24 hours monitored prison cell in the USA. Does his death serve justice for his victims? Maybe as an instant relief that such a criminal was killed, but what about the others involved with him.
Jeffrey Epstein hanged in his prison cell

Did you start seeing the pattern? Can you figure out a certain name connected directly to all these three figures: Bin Laden, Baghdadi, Epstein? What about a certain group of evildoers? And now add the sudden death of Le Mesurier.

Throughout history, when crimes start winding down the major culprits clean their tracks. The small players are ‘deleted’, the major players and main criminals breathe a window of relief, the victims are served a tiny shred of justice but the real criminals are loose.

Both main players and middle players and even small players think the killing of this latest black box will spare them the punishment they deserve for the massive humanitarian suffering they caused upon the Syrian people, maybe in this life although they shouldn’t keep their bets high, their other partners are still loose, but certainly in the life hereafter they will be lined up one by one before their victims, one by one, and then they will be dumped in the deepest dungeons of hell, but as a group.

Remaining criminals should really be worried now seeing how Baghdadi and White Helmets founder are eliminated. My personal advice to them: come clean, if you know something that implicates your enablers record it and present the evidence you know, surrender yourselves to the Syrian authorities, they’re the only party with sincere interest to uncover the real criminals, anybody else might be implicated, if not at the highest level, at any level in between them and you.

Le Mesurier for his ‘humanitarian’ received an ‘OBE’ by no other than the head of the regime of Elizabeth the Second, the regime behind every misery in human history at least a century before I was born. Not starting with the Indian colonization and famine, going through WWI, Sykes-Picot and the ensuing colonization of large parts of the Arab world and planting the most cancerous disease between the Levant and African parts of the Arab World.

 

Chief of Al-Qaeda Levant aka Nusra Front praising the White Helmets in Idlib!

His organization received hundreds of millions of US-taxpayers’ hard-earned money. He had good relations with the regime of Barack Hussein Obama, another major contributor to the ‘humanitarian‘ efforts. Obama, for the records, inherited the US ‘humanitarian’ efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo, Somalia… to name a few, the sufferings there intensified during his two terms presidency and added the ‘humanitarian’ efforts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, to name a few.

vanessa beeley@VanessaBeeley

James Le Mesurier wife “barred from leaving Turkey”. Co-founder of Incostrat, alleged UK FCO PR agency for , extremist gang occupying . Previous UKFCO connections. Skoll Foundation. Mayday Rescue funding stream. Interesting background.

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The Syrian people would have got some justice had this ex-British Army officer been arrested and tried publicly where he would expose all his hidden (known to Syrians) secrets and many of the players involved in the real crimes against humanity in Syria would have been exposed, and at least shamed not celebrated as Nobel Peace Award laureates or promoted as feminist defenders. One of the worst players, however, remain in our region and is being supported by two of Syria’s main allies while he swings on all ropes.

There’s a process of cleaning tracks been initiated and more small players heads will roll and the middle and big players trial might be postponed, but Divine justice will never forgive their mischief deeds on Earth, their punishment is prepared for them sooner or later, during their lifetimes or after:

“He reprieves but does not neglect.”

Karma: British “White Helmets” Co-Founder Dead in Turkey

By Tony Cartalucci

Source

white-helmets-syria-400x225.jpg

Former British military officer James Le Mesurier suspected of ties to MI6 and the co-founder of the so-called “White Helmets” front was found dead this month in Turkey from an apparent fall from his residence.

The Western media wasted no time linking it to claims Russia had recently made that he was an intelligence asset involved in sowing instability worldwide – attempting to portray Russia as somehow likely responsible for Le Mesurier’s death.

Not a Rescue Org 

In actuality, the “White Helmets” were an extension of Western armed and funded terrorist organizations operating in Syria with the “White Helmets” specifically serving the purpose of war propagandists thinly disguised as “rescue workers” or local “civil defense.”

They found themselves repeatedly at the center of alleged chemical attacks the US accused the Syrian government of – indicating their likely involvement in carrying out false flag operations – many of which may have actually killed real people.

The deceptive manner in which the “White Helmets” operated has already been extensively exposed and their credibility rendered moot – not least because the terrorist organizations they augment are nearing extinction – surrounded in Syria’s northern governorate of Idlib.

Cui Bono? 

Le Mesurier’s continued existence as the co-founder of a now irrelevant propaganda arm to a defeated proxy army makes no difference to Syria and its Russian allies.

Le Mesurier’s continued existence – however – did pose the perpetual threat of the knowledge he had of covert US operations in Syria including the use of the “White Helmets” in staging chemical attacks and other atrocities and their role in manipulating international organizations like the OPCW eventually becoming public.

It is obvious that his death – whatever the cause – benefited the US and UK which backed him and his faux humanitarian relief organization – meaning that whatever secrets he harbored are now taken to the grave with him.

Work for Horrible People, Meet a Horrible End

Finally, let Le Mesurier’s end serve as a warning for those serving the agenda of global aggressors particularly in the targeting and destruction of a sovereign nation like Syria.

Even upon death, the establishment that bank rolled him and propped him up used his corpse as a prop in their public relations campaigns. The truth of his death may never emerge. With the possibility that he was terminated by his own employers – pause for thought will hopefully reverberate across the peripheral operations created to prop up and promote the “White Helmets.”

Anyone who finds themselves in possession of facts and willfully distorts them for profit in the employ of nations willing to lie to promote death and destruction on a global scale cannot possibly believe they are ever safe or will perpetually be more useful alive than dead.

Regardless of the actual cause of Le Mesurier’s death, he was  certainly useful to the system that created him and whom he served. We must also acknowledge that he had accumulated 8 years of top secrets which were liable to spill out.

President al-Assad: The American presence in Syria will generate military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans and force them to leave

Friday, 15 November 2019 09:34

DAMASCUS-  President Bashar al-Assad has stressed that nobody believes that Turkey will repatriate 3 million Syrian refugees to the northeast of the country and this is a deceptive humanitarian slogan raised by Turkish regime to create an ethnic conflict in this area and to bring the terrorists and their families into this region in order to create a new extremist community in line with the vision sought by President of the Turkish regime, Erdogan.

In an interview given to RUSSIA 24 and ROSSIYA SEVODNYA, President al-Assad clarified that  most of the Kurds are patriots who support their state and the Syrian people, but there are groups, some of these groups are Kurds, some are Arabs, working under American command and there is currently a dialogue with them, since the return of the Syrian Army to north, to convince them that stability is achieved when all of us are committed to the Syrian constitution.

He said: “ After nine years of war, I think that most people understand the importance of embracing the state regardless of political differences.”

President al-Assad emphasized that every war will result in a lot of changes in society but it doesn’t mean dividing the country, moving towards separation; throwing out the constitution or weakening the state, confirming that the war should be an experience from which we come out with a stronger, not weaker homeland.

He pointed out that the American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave.  “However, America cannot believe that it will live comfortably in any area it occupies.  We remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Syria will not be an exception.”

President al-Assad indicated that the immediate and most effective solution is to unite as Syrians and as patriots and this would cause the Americans to leave the Syrian territory.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, first of all I’m grateful to you for finding the time to answer our questions despite the difficult circumstances.

The world’s attention is now focused on the situation in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic.  What is your personal assessment of the Russian-Turkish agreement on Syria?

President Assad:  Our assessment is certainly positive, not because we trust Turkey, which hasn’t been honest in meeting all the commitments it made previously, whether in Astana or elsewhere.  Our assessment is positive becasue there is no doubt that Russia’s involvement has positive aspects, because otherwise we would have been faced with three options.  The first was the Turkish plan or agenda, with its Muslim Brotherhood and Ottoman dimensions.  The second option was the American plan, which is connected with the Turkish one, and was meant for the Turkish incursion to complicate the situation in Syria, and consequently push us away from the solution we all felt we were approaching.  The third option was the German proposal, i.e. internationalizing the region, and consequently imposing international protection.  All these plans are ultimately designed by the American leadership.  Here is the significance of the positive Russian role, which outmaneuvered these plans and neutralized the Kurdish pretext, in order to prepare the ground for Turkey’s withdrawal.

Question 2: Why is Russia helping Syria, in general?

President Assad: We cannot answer this question without talking about the Russian role; Russia is a superpower and has international duties and responsibilities.  These responsibilities serve the world and also, Russia and the Russian people.  Russia has the choice of either playing the role of a superpower, or withdrawing into itself and becoming a very ordinary state, which would not be good for the world.  In this context, the military presence in Syria is part of the framework of the global balance of power, because the world today is not governed by legal criteria, but rather by the criteria of power.  Therefore, the Russian power, from a military perspective, is necessary for balance in the world.

A second aspect is fighting terrorism which has two sides: the first is moral and the second is legal, i.e. international law, because terrorism is supported by well-known states.  There is a third aspect, which is protecting Russian interests.  This terrorism has no borders, no political borders. Today, it might be in Syria, but also in the farthest point in Asia. It might also exist in Europe, like the terrorist operations which happened in the past years; and it might also be in Russia, and you recall what happened over ten years ago, when terrorists kidnapped and killed innocent people in schools and theatres.  You have known and lived through terrorism in the Chechen Republic and other places, and you still do.  You cannot fight terrorism only where it exists.  It must be fought all over the world.

Moreover, Russia, through the role it’s playing, has the exact opposite vision of the West, which believes that international law is at odds with its interests; Russia believes that international law serves its own interests and also its joint interests with other countries.  For all these reasons, Russia is helping Syria.

Question 3:  Going back to Turkey, what do you think of Ankara’s intention of repatriating the Syrian refugees to the areas under the control of the Turkish army and the militants which support it in the northeast of the country, taking into account that these refugees might number about 3 million people?

President Assad:  Nobody believes that Turkey will repatriate 3 million Syrian refugees to this area; this is a deceptive humanitarian slogan.  Even if they wanted to, this is not possible because it would create a conflict between the owners of the land, the cities, the villages, the homes, the farms, and the fields on the one hand, and these newcomers, on the other; those who own these places will never renounce their rights in these areas, so this would create an ethnic conflict.

However, the real reason behind Turkey bringing the militants and terrorists who fought and were defeated in Syria, is to move them and their families into this region in order to create a new extremist community in line with the vision sought by the President of the Turkish regime, Erdogan.  This is the real goal.  In either case, both are dangerous and aim at destabilizing Syria.  Therefore, we certainly reject it.

Question 4:  The Sochi agreement contributed to normalizing the situation in northeastern Syria and prepared the ground for the return of the legitimate control of the Syrian government east of Euphrates and some areas in the northeast of the country.  But the population in those areas has been cut off from the state’s central authority as a result of ISIS’s behavior.  What are the steps you intend to take in order to engage the local authorities of the Kurdish autonomous administration?  This is because fighting ISIS was carried out by both the government forces in that area and by the YPG.

President Assad:  I want to separate the two cases, because ISIS was created by American will and carried out its activities under an American cover.  We are convinced, and we have information, that America has used ISIS as a military tool to strike at the Syrian Army and to distract the military forces fighting terrorism, at the forefront of which is Syria.

With regards to the Kurdish forces, we need to correct certain concepts.  The term is being misused and it is being promoted by the West to give the impression that the forces operating there are Kurdish and that the region is Kurdish.  First, I would like to make it clear that this region in the north and northeast of Syria is an Arab-majority region; over 70% of its population are Arabs, not the other way around.  The groups fighting there are a mixture of Kurds and others; the Americans support the Kurdish groups and installed them in a leadership role in order to give the impression that it is a Kurdish region and to create a conflict between the Kurds and the other groups in Syria.  We remained in contact throughout the war with these groups, despite our knowledge that some were being used and directed by the Americans; they were armed and funded by the Americans and their public statements were dictated by them.  This does not mean that the Kurds are not patriots; I stress that most of the Kurds are patriots who support their state and the Syrian people like any other segment of Syrian society, but some of these groups are Kurds, some are Arabs, and there might be others working under American command.  These are the groups we have continued to engage.

Since the return of the Syrian Army to these areas, there is currently a dialogue to convince them that stability is achieved when all of us are committed to the Syrian constitution, because this constitution reflects the will of the people.  And when the Syrian Arab Army returns, it does so together with other state institutions, which are also an expression of the Syrian constitution and people.

Some progress has been achieved recently after the Turkish invasion in this area.  Russia plays an important role in this issue based on the same principles that I just mentioned.  Sometimes we move forward, other times we move backward partly because of the American pressure on the armed groups in Syria not to respond to the Syrian state; this is expected.  Now we are more optimistic that things are moving in right direction, because after nine years of war, I think that most people understand the importance of embracing the state regardless of political differences, or differences with the government or the ruling party.  The state in every part of the world embraces everybody; I believe that we are moving in this direction.

Question 5: Have I understood you correctly, that the status quo in the northeast of the country is as it is because of outside interference? I mean, the views that there are problems with the Kurds that can never be solved.

President Assad:  The problems are with some of the Kurds; I stress once again that most of the Kurds have been in Syria for decades and there are no problems with them.  There are however, extremist groups, extremist in the political sense, which are making propositions closer to separation.  Some of these propositions are related to federalism and Kurdish self-rule.  As I mentioned earlier, this is an Arab region, and if anyone is to talk about federalism, it shall be the Arabs, because they are the majority; this is self-evident.  Unlike, the situation in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey, there is no Kurdish majority in this region of Syria.

As to cultural and other rights, I always give the example of the Armenians because they are the latest comers to Syria – about a hundred years ago.  They have their schools, churches, and full cultural rights.  Why would we give cultural rights to one segment of Syrian society and not to others?   Simply, this group has made separatist propositions which we shall never accept, not today, not tomorrow, not as a state, not as a people.  This is the problem.  Today, all these American-supported groups claim that the situation has changed after the war – of course the situation has changed.  It is normal that every war will result in a lot of changes in society.  However, war doesn’t mean dividing the country, or moving towards separation; it doesn’t mean throwing out the constitution or weakening the state.  The war should be an experience from which we come out with a stronger, not weaker homeland.  We shall never accept any separatist propositions under any circumstances.

Question 6:  Mr. President, despite all this, how do you evaluate the role played by the YPG in the fight against ISIS?  Because according to their figures, thousands of their fighters were killed defending their towns and villages inside Syria.

President Assad:  A large number of Syrians have been killed defending their villages in all regions, not only in that region.  It is not fair to talk about one segment of Syrians, because all Syrians defended their homeland, and all of them have defended their towns and villages. When people sense an existential threat, they must defend themselves, this is self-evident. But I wouldn’t put this defense in a political framework because that would mean giving America a certificate of good conduct and implying that all American-supported forces have been fighting ISIS, and consequently America has been fighting terrorism.  We all know and we have all stated – in Syria, Russia, and other countries, that America has supported ISIS.

We must distinguish between the citizens who achieved real results defending their villages and killing or eliminating a large number of terrorists, on the one hand, and the political agenda which is linked to America, on the other; we need to be accurate.

Question 7:  In October, the deadline for the withdrawal of YPG 30 kilometers from the Turkish borders expired, and Ankara claimed that YPG has not withdrawn.  Where are the YPG units now?  Where are they located?  The equally important question is: how would these units be integrated with the Syrian Armed Forces, particularly since there was an announcement and a proposal in this regard?

President Assad:  The Russian-Turkish agreement regarding the withdrawal of these armed groups must be implemented.  As I said previously, they are a mixture of Kurds and Arabs, but their leadership is Kurdish.  They need to withdraw because they provided the Turks with the pretext to implement their plan, which they have been dreaming of since the beginning of the war; they need to withdraw 30 kilometers.

As to implementation, they announced that they would implement and this has happened in some areas, but it hasn’t been implemented fully and this is to be expected.  These types of measures do not happen overnight or quickly; there isn’t necessarily a central control over all the groups fighting in a particular area.  Militias often fight and take their decisions in a chaotic manner and that’s why things are implemented in a particular place and not in another.  We are cooperating with Russia in order to fully implement this agreement, after which we should tell the Turks to start withdrawing.

As for integrating these groups into the Syrian Army, we have followed a principle since the beginning of reconciliations in 2013 that all those who hand in their weapons get full amnesty and return to normal civilian life like any other citizen, and they may join the Syrian Arab Army.  This has happened in many places; some of those who had fought with the terrorists later joined the Syrian Arab Army and fought within its ranks and were even martyred.

After the Russian-Turkish agreement, the Syrian Ministry of Defense announced that it was prepared to integrate all those fighters into the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army using various means appropriate to that region.  The official response we received was that they were not prepared to join the Syrian Arab Army and that they insist on keeping their weapons in those areas.  Also, within the framework of Syrian-Russian cooperation, we are trying to convince these fighters to join the Syrian Arab Army and fight against the Turkish invaders, which is the correct and proper way to restore the lands whose loss they have caused in northern Syria. We have to keep trying and we’ll see how things progress in the next few weeks.

Question 8:  Mr. President, in fact, the war has ended in the largest part of Syria.  People are returning to their homes in their villages. What is the Syrian leadership doing in order to provide the necessary requirements for their life there? Are there statistics about the number of restored houses or schools in those areas? And what are the main difficulties faced in preparing for the restoration of normal lives for these citizens?

President Assad:  In Syria, the biggest concerns facing any citizen on a daily basis are the economic conditions and the ability to meet basic needs, as well as providing education to their children and healthcare.  In every area we enter, we immediately start to restore the schools and provide the necessary requirements, including teachers and other resources; we also ensure that hospitals are functioning.  Similarly, we pay attention to the living conditions. However, living conditions in Syria are subject, in one way or another, to a number of external factors, particularly the Western sanctions against Syria which affect the provision of heating oil, fuel, and consequently electricity.  The embargo imposed on Syria prevents foreign investment into the country, in addition to other forms of embargo.  We are able to provide the basic needs, albeit at a minimum; sometimes we are unable to provide them in a sufficient manner.  All of this is a result of the embargo.  We are looking for other methods; and our friends, Russia, Iran, and sometimes China, are providing some humanitarian assistance. These are the priorities and the needs of our citizens that we are trying to meet, albeit at a bare minimum.

Question 9:  The more important question is: in order to ensure the return of normal life to the country, and the return of refugees, it is necessary to provide job opportunities.  Is there a process of rebuilding destroyed facilities?  And is the process of rebuilding them difficult under these tough sanctions?

President Assad:  Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible.  Away from any delusional or imaginary scenarios, practically speaking, there are a number of industries – the pharmaceutical industry for example, where the number of factories has risen significantly since the beginning of the war, this is also the case in other sectors.  Of course, the pace is not as it should be, or as we want it to be, in order to provide for the return of refugees who are also looking for job opportunities.  However, the mere fact that we are able to create new industries, a few of which are heavy industries, is at odds with the existing economic conditions for a country in a state of war, which usually can only create small or perhaps medium-sized industries.  We need to now look for better ways to encourage investment because of the sanctions.  We are currently studying our old investment law – which has been amended several times, to encourage the inflow of capital or at least the investment of capital already within the country which is not subject to foreign sanctions.  Despite all this and despite the Western and American embargo, there are a few limited foreign investments.

Question 10:  Going back to the question of the political solution, militants continue to hand in their weapons; and we know that the Syrian government, and you personally, are doing a lot in order to reintegrate these people in society.  What are your next plans in terms of providing assistance to the militants and their families whose legal status have been settled?

President Assad:  This is an important point, and a critical challenge.  There are various aspects that need to be addressed.  First, we have children, because you correctly referred to families and not just militants in the abstract case.  These militants have a family and they are part of a community, albeit small, but an extremist community.  Their children have lived for a long period, sometimes their formative years, outside of the law and away from national curricula, as such they have learned wrong concepts.  We announced a few weeks ago that schools would integrate these pupils within their programs and according to their age, so that they could adjust into the national curriculum within a few years and assimilate to patriotic concepts.

A second aspect is the religious extremism which has been promoted for years, and has become entrenched in the minds of entire communities in the areas governed by Al Qaeda and Wahabi ideology under the names of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Tahrir al-Cham, Jaish al-Islam, and others, it doesn’t matter who, because they all belong to one ideology and one doctrine. In Syria, the religious establishment plays a very important role in this regard; you cannot talk to those extremists in the beginning about national and humanitarian issues.  They must first understand that the religious concepts they have learned are wrong and distorted, and in contradiction with religion.  We are working extensively in order to flush out these wrong concepts.

The third aspect is that these communities have lived outside the law; they don’t know the meaning of the state, of laws, courts of law, traffic police, and other instruments used by society to organize itself.  This is the more difficult aspect.  The challenge here is how to reintroduce the state in the best possible way to these towns and villages, in order to restore concepts of law and order.  These are the areas we are constantly working on, through various institutions, in order to reintegrate this community into Syrian society and ensuring they have a strong sense of patriotism.

Question 11: Mr. President, I have an important question also about the humanitarian situation, which has to do with the Kurdish population.  During the war, Kurdish children used the Kurdish language in their education and have not received official certificates or government documents proving the educational stage they reached.  This is a big problem now, because they cannot continue studying and learning, and they cannot work in an official and a professional manner.  Is there a plan to solve this problem?  Is such a plan ready, or is it still under preparation?

President Assad:  This issue is linked to the previous question; the implementation of this point was announced by the Ministry of Education immediately after the Turkish invasion, two or three weeks ago.  The Ministry stated it welcomes the integration of students who studied the Kurdish curriculum into our national education system in the post-primary stage.  This is a practical solution and the normal course of action; otherwise how can we ask these students or young people to reintegrate into our homeland if they are isolated or unaccepted in the national education system.

Intervention: But there are children and young people who have completed their education, but they don’t have official government documents to certify that.  How can this problem be solved?

President Assad:  There is no other option but to accept these certificates.  Young people are not only integrated through school, but also through higher institutes, universities, and other educational institutions.  If we want them to properly integrate into society and become productive individuals who contribute to building their country, we must find the appropriate procedural solutions in order to integrate them into the educational system.  The first solution I referred to, was announced two weeks ago because it was the easiest and the quickest; other solutions are in the pipeline and will also be announced in the coming weeks.

Question 12:  Mr. President, according to the media, Trump announced an expansion of American presence in Syria, particularly in the northeast of the country, under the pretext of protecting the oil fields.  Is there a military solution to this problem?  And when would such a military operation start?

President Assad:  I have always said that an occupier cannot occupy a piece of land without having agents in that country, because it would be difficult for them to live in a completely hostile environment.  Therefore, the immediate and most effective solution is for us to unite as Syrians and as patriots.  This would cause the Americans to leave, and they would not be able to stay, neither for oil nor for anything else.

However, with time, when the occupier remains – the Iraq experience is still fresh in the minds of Americans and the result, for them, was unexpected; for us however, it was clear and I did say in one of my interviews after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that occupation will generate military resistance.  Similarly, the American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave.  Of course, we are not contemplating a Russian-American confrontation, this is self-evident, and it doesn’t serve neither our interests, nor the Russians nor international stability; it is dangerous.  However, America cannot believe that it will live comfortably in any area it occupies.  We remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Syria will not be an exception.

Question 13:  Concerning the American behavior here, particularly in relation to Syrian oil, don’t you believe that this behavior is that of a government gang?  And what are the losses to Syria as a result of Washington’s behavior?

President Assad:  You are absolutely correct, not only because they are looting oil, but because America is structured as a political system of gangs.  The American president does not represent a state – he is the company CEO, and behind this CEO there is a board of directors which represent the big companies in America – the real owners of the state – oil and arms companies, banks, and other lobbies.  So, in reference to Syrian oil, this is the expected result of the American regime, which is led by companies acting for their own interests.

Having said this, I would like to remind you of something more significant than merely describing them as a gang.  One of the most important factors, which led to Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, was oil; some even say that it was the only factor and there was no other reason for him to invade.  Today, America is doing the same thing; it is imitating the Nazis.  So, we can very simply liken American policy today with Nazi policy: expansion, invasion, undermining the interests of other nations, trampling on international law, international conventions, human principles, and others – all for the sake of oil.  What’s the difference between this policy and Nazi policy?  Can anybody from the American regime give us an answer to this question? I don’t think so.

Question 14:  Would Syria lodge a complaint at the United Nations about the United States looting Syrian oil?  And does Damascus have specific plans to demand compensation for the looted oil from Washington?

President Assad:  Of course, this is to be expected.  However, you and I, and many others in the world know that there is no United Nations because there is no international law; and so, all complaints lodged at the United Nations remain in drawers.  As I mentioned earlier, there is a quasi-state, governed by gangs and based on the principle of power.  These gangs are thieves and the conflict between them is over profits, gains, and losses.  It is not a conflict over ideologies or political parties; the conflicts between Trump and others in America are conflicts over spoils and gains.

That’s why today we live in a world similar to a jungle, closer to the period before World War II, rather than after it.  We will send a complaint, but it will remain in the drawers.

Question 15:  In Istanbul, one of the founders of the White Helmets died a few days ago, the organization whose involvement in producing fake videos on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria was uncovered several times.  And now there are hypotheses that this founder of the White Helmets in Syria did not die, but was rather killed.  What do you think of that? What happened in Istanbul?

President Assad:  In order not to look at this as an isolated case, we must look at it in the broader context of similar incidents.  The American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was killed weeks ago; they said that he had committed suicide in prison.  He was killed because he had many important details and secrets about prominent figures in the American and British regimes, and possibly other countries as well.

One of the leading members of the White Helmets was killed in a German prison; they also claimed he committed suicide.  Now the main founder of the White Helmets is killed.  He was actually an officer and worked throughout his career with NATO, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, and Lebanon, and later he founded the White Helmets in Syria. What is the link between the history of this individual and humanitarian work, which is supposedly the domain of the White Helmets, but you and I both know, that they are part of Al Qaeda.  If we take into account the killing of Bin Laden and recently al-Baghdadi, I believe these individuals were killed because they had important secrets and thus had become a burden; and since their role had expired, it was necessary to get rid of them.  Therefore, if we look at all these stories as parts of one panoramic picture, we cannot believe that they committed suicide or died a natural death.  All these names, and maybe others, were killed because their role had ended and it was necessary to bury their secrets with them.  Why were al-Baghdadi and Bin Laden killed?  Because were they to remain alive, there may have come a time or circumstance where they would have revealed the truth.  Maybe the founder of the White Helmets was writing his memoir and this is not acceptable.  These are all probabilities, but they are very likely probabilities, because the alternative is not convincing for me.

Intervention: So, you believe that Western intelligence agencies are behind the death of the former MI6 agent?

President Assad:  Of course, these are the acts of intelligence agencies, the question is which ones?  In general, when we refer to Western intelligence agencies, including the Turkish and some other intelligence agencies in our region, we know that they are not run by independent states.  Rather, they are branches of the main intelligence agency, the CIA; this is the reality.  They all work under the orders of one master in coordination and in harmony with one another.  So, there is a high probability that the Turkish intelligence carried out the hit under instructions from foreign intelligence agencies.  Once again, these are probabilities, but this is the nature of relations among Western intelligence agencies or those working with them.

Question 16:  Mr. President, the constitutional committee has started its work in Geneva. Do you think that its work will be useful? And does Damascus have red lines if crossed by proposals of this committee that would be unacceptable?

President Assad:  There is an attempt to portray that the solution to the war in Syria will come about as a result of the constitutional committee.  The war did not start because of a disagreement or a division over the constitution.  The war in Syria started because there were acts of terrorism which killed members of the military, the police, and civilians and also destroyed public and other properties.  So, the war ends when terrorism ends.  There was a parallel political track through which America wanted to propose the idea of a transitional body.  This idea was rejected by us in Syria and by all countries that believe in international law.  Consequently, the Sochi talks began and created the constitutional committee.  The constitutional committee discusses the constitution; and for us, the constitution, like any other text, should be revised and amended in accordance with new developments in Syria; it is not a holy text.  We had no problem with this, and so, we continued along with this track.

However, in order not to be over optimistic and make unrealistic propositions, we must explain the structure of this constitutional committee.  It has three parties; one representing the viewpoint of the Syrian government, one representing civil society – which has different viewpoints, and the third party is appointed by Turkey.  So, imagine that you, as Russians, want to amend the Russian constitution, and you’re told that one of the parties in the committee mandated with this task is appointed by foreign countries.  You would not only reject that proposition, but you would also deem it as reckless and at odds with logic and reality.  This is what happened in the constitutional committee. We are negotiating with a party appointed by the Turkish government, which of course means America; the front is Turkey, but this is a de facto position.

In order to expect results from this committee, every one of its members should have their allegiance to the Syrian people, they cannot belong to a foreign state and publicly declare their allegiance to it.  Will they be allowed to be genuine Syrians?  Can anyone who belongs to another state come back and belong to his homeland?  I don’t want to give an answer, but I think these are logical questions that everyone watching this interview will have logical answers to.

Question 17: Mr. President, during the war, and a result of the sanctions, the Syrian economy has been greatly affected. And now there is a lot of talk about corruption. What are the reforms and changes to the economy which you intend to make in the near future? And are there mechanisms in place to support the national currency?

President Assad:  Strengthening the economy first needs modern and developed investment laws. I referred to this aspect earlier and mentioned that we are in the process of upgrading these laws.  You touched on fighting corruption in your question and this is an important aspect, whether it is to strengthen the economy, to enforce the law or to support the Syrian Pound; these are all interrelated.  We started fighting corruption many years ago and this is ongoing and at an accelerated pace, especially with the discovery of a number of corruption cases.  This is expected, because war creates chaos, and chaos is a very good environment for terrorism, on the one hand, and corruption, on the other.  We are moving forward in enforcing the law.

However, fighting corruption and strengthening the economy also need new laws.  The gaps that are related to the weakness of the economy, on the one hand, and to widespread corruption, on the other, are due to the weakness inherent in our laws.  Almost a year ago, we created a committee of legal experts tasked with developing the laws in order to close the gaps which allow for corruption.  This in itself supports the Syrian Pound while at the same time encouraging investment, because they are both interrelated.  Our policy is not one of speculation; it is a policy which aims to create a strong economy, which in itself would support the national currency.

Question 18: Mr. President, in the countries neighboring Syria, there are demonstrations against governments, mainly in Lebanon and Iraq, and last August there were demonstrations in the Jordanian capital of Amman.  Doesn’t that remind you of the start of the unrest in Syria in 2011? What is your take on that?  Who has an interest in what is happening?  And what are the initial objectives of this?

President Assad:  No, they are not similar to what happened in Syria.  What happened in Syria in the beginning was that money was paid – and this is documented – to groups of people to come out and demonstrate.  There were a few that demonstrated because they wanted changes in particular areas, but this was not the general situation.  The killing started from the early days.  There were shootings, which means that the demonstrations were not spontaneous.  The money was available, and the weapons ready, so, we cannot liken this situation with those in other countries.

Certainly, if these demonstrations in a number of neighboring countries are spontaneous and genuinely express a national desire to improve political, economic, and other conditions, then to do so, they must remain patriotic.  Countries which interfere with everything throughout the world, like America and the West, and particularly Britain and France and others, will certainly take advantage of this situation in order to play a role and push things in a direction that serves their interests.  The most important thing is that they [the demonstrations] remain within a national framework.  If they do, the results will surely be positive, because they express the will of the people in these countries.  But if there is foreign interference, it will certainly be against the interests of the homeland.  This is what we have known and experienced clearly in Syria.  That’s why I hope that these movements are a genuine driver towards improvement within all sectors and at all levels.

Question 19:  Mr. President, the last question, which might be a little personal. We know very well that you like driving cars; and every citizen in your country knows that you prefer to drive your car by yourself.  Now, the largest part of Syria has become free from war, and that’s why the roads have become safer.  Does your security detail have less work during your movements now?  And have you seen, by yourself, the positive changes in the country while driving your car, particularly that not every head of state drives their own car?

President Assad:  I have been doing this since my first day in office, I haven’t changed my nature.  I would like to stress an important point, which is that my security detail hasn’t changed before or during the war.  It has remained the same. We haven’t introduced any additional measures, neither in relation to driving a car nor with regards to the security motorcade.  They remain the same, because one of the objectives of the terrorists and those who support them, and the psychological pressure as a consequence, was to create a state of terror in Syria.  So, when officials feel afraid, citizens must feel afraid too; this is one aspect.

The other is not related to the war.  I drive my car because I don’t like the trappings of the position; this is my nature.  I’m self-dependent, I have always driven my car and that hasn’t changed.  I prefer to let my personality dictate the position rather than allow the trappings of power to dictate who I am.  This has always been my principle: before and during the war, and it will not change.  Neither terrorism nor anything else will succeed in changing my nature and my relationship with people.

As to its impact on people, I believe that every citizen in any country in the world likes their officials to be natural and not superficial, to be spontaneous without show and spectacle.  I believe that this is one of the strengths of any official who cares about his relationship with people, and who likes to be as close to them as possible.  An official cannot exaggerate and claim to live a completely normal life, but at the same time they should not separate themselves from people, otherwise they would lose this relationship.  This is one of the many aspects which connect me to the Syrian people.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for your candid answers.  We wish you all the best.  Thank you.

President Assad:  Thank you, I am very happy to meet you.  I would like, through you, to convey my warm regards to the friendly and brotherly Russian people.  Today, we don’t just have shared familial ties, as was the case in previous decades, we have also shed blood in our joint confrontation with terrorism.  Thanks again.

Journalist: Thank you

Adapted by the Syrian News Agency (SANA)

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Assad’s Comments about Trump Are Right on the Money

By Michael Howard

Source

Assad is right about Trump 90999

I’ve written a lot of words about Syria over the past few years. It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted to—there are plenty of other things I’d rather write about—but I didn’t have much of a choice. Western military meddling in, and Western media coverage of, that terrible conflict forced my hand. Both were so hypocritical and mendacious that I couldn’t help myself. I don’t know about you, but I don’t much like being manipulated and lied to. So I wrote a handful of articles countering the propaganda with which we were being clubbed on a daily basis, pointing out inconvenient but undeniable facts that the mass media were either burying or distorting. These facts had to do with the nature of the armed opposition, Russia’s intervention, our own role in turning Syria into a charnel house, and, of course, the notorious chemical weapons incidents that were used as excuses for American bombing.

I was what is officially known as an “Assadist”—an apologist for Assad, who had murdered 400,000 of his own people. For some strange reason, killing one’s own people is far less acceptable than killing someone else’s. We in the United States like to do both: our militarized police kill unarmed Americans while our military kills, directly or indirectly, unarmed Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Yemenis, etc. in numbers dwarfing 400,000. By the way, you’ll have noticed that that figure, which held steady for three or four years, has miraculously begun to go down. Now it’s 300,000, or 250,000, or in some cases even less. It’s reminiscent of the disappearing residents of east Aleppo. While that gory battle raged on, there were supposed to be 250,000 innocents caught in the crossfire. When the “rebel” enclave finally fell, a few media outlets quietly conceded that there had been less than 100,000 people there; most outlets did not bother correcting the record.

It was all very farcical and embarrassing. At times it passed into the sphere of surrealism. I remember watching a CNN or MSNBC broadcast one night and nearly spitting out whatever it was I was drinking when I heard a commentator assert that Assad had “killed millions.” The absurd hyperbole went unchallenged by her fellow panelists—probably they thought it was true. Another time, while an English-language interview with Assad was being discussed, a CNN woman clarified for the folks at home that everything one saw and heard on the tape must be taken with a grain of salt, because the interview had been recorded by the Syrian government and then selectively edited to Assad’s liking. Again, nobody interjected to say that Assad grants interviews to journalists on the condition that the conversation is recorded and published in its entirety, without any editing by anyone. But again, the pros at CNN probably didn’t know this. They believe most of their own lies.

If you refused to jump on the bandwagon and tell lies about the Syrian government, you were an “Assadist.” If you mentioned that east Aleppo was occupied by al-Qaeda-types, you were an “Assadist.” If you expressed skepticism about the humanitarian credentials of the White Helmets, “Assadist” again. Interesting to note that much of the mainstream press are now Assadists. They no longer pretend, for example, that Erdogan’s proxies comprise some kind of moderate rebel force worth supporting—their ethnic cleansing of Kurdish majority regions finally laid waste to that stubborn little myth. Nor do they deny that Idlib is governed by Wahhabi maniacs who differ from ISIS in tactics only. Anyone making such points two or three years ago, when Washington still clung to the hope that Assad would be Gaddafi’d, was beyond the pale. Now that Assad is certain to win the war, it’s permissible to tell the truth—part of it anyway. Speaking of Idlib, the media seem to have settled on a figure of 3 million civilians. We’ll see how many of those people vanish into thin air if and when the Syrian army regains control of the area.

But coordinated resistance is not such an easy thing when you’re dealing with a monolithic corporate media that overwhelms you with state propaganda and then blackens anyone who dares push back. Which is why Trump, hideous as he and his policies are, is a breath of fresh air. I’ve written about this before. By wearing his vile, imperialist motives on his lapel, he makes it extremely difficult for the media to sell us their snake oil. We should topple Maduro, the Trump regime contends, because then we’ll have control of Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves. “That’s the country we should be going to war with,” Don reportedly said in private. “They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.” But we don’t have to believe that account. Here’s his erstwhile National Security Adviser, the reptilian John Bolton, speaking publicly: “We’re looking at the oil assets. That’s the single most important income stream to the government of Venezuela. We’re looking at what to do to that.”

Returning to Syria, Trump has announced that he’s keeping American troops there (forever, presumably) to secure and protect oil fields in the northeast. There you have it, plain as day: we shall stay in Syria because, well, we want its oil. George and Dick always maintained that oil had nothing to do with their decision to go into Iraq and tear it apart—that was just a silly conspiracy theory. All we wanted was freedom for the Iraqi people. Our motives were benevolent and disinterested. From Trump we get no such claptrap. From Trump, one of the most prolific liars in the business, we ironically get the truth. That, according to the president of Syria, makes him “the best American president.”

Assad made the remark in a recent interview. He expounded: “Why? Not because his policies are good, but because he’s the most transparent president. All American presidents commit crimes and end up taking the Nobel Prize and appear as a defender of human rights and the ‘unique’ and ‘brilliant’ American or Western principles, but all they are is a group of criminals who only represent the interests of the American lobbies of large corporations in weapons, oil and others.”

Call me an Assadist, but Assad is right on the money. Trump has lifted the embroidered veil from American foreign policy and exposed for everyone to see the rottenness that lies beneath. In all his vulgar glory, he lays bare the cynical, beastly motives underpinning the sanctions, the military and economic aid, the US-led coalitions, the humanitarian interventions, the cruise missile strikes, the full-scale invasions. He shows us, ultimately, that the American Empire is as ugly and irredeemable as he is. What say you, Washington Post?

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

In Gaza

20190620_203559

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

August 5, 2019, Mint Press News

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

EB | So, they were ready?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author’s note | 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Will Hamas Challenge Fatah in the West Bank?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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