The theft of Syrian oil by US forces illegally occupying Syria, and the US-NATO backed destruction of infrastructure and economy, have left Syrians in extreme danger of dying from cold and starvation this winter. Before the war Syria, which is the seat of one of the earliest civilisations, had a healthy economy and was host to many refugees from neighboring states.
"It is incredibly rare that the BBC ever admits that one of their reports on Douma in Syria failed to meet the Corporation's editorial standards for accuracy by reporting false claims… Blink and you’d have missed this admission, but we didn’t, and it adds to a volley of misreporting that has dogged journalism and peace in the Middle East for decades." (Ross Ashcroft, Renegade Inc.) Ross Ashcroft skilfully reviews mainstream western media attacks on journalists who tried in 2018 to properly investigate false claims that the Syrian Government launched chemical attacks on its people. He reinterviews those journalists, as he analyses the recent BBC admission of defending lies that support the western media conspiracy to justify US-NATO attempts to overthrow Assad Government. He is joined by political scientist Dr. Piers Robinson and journalist Vanessa Beeley to discuss the crumbling narrative around the alleged Douma chemical attack.
This article comments on the Australian war propaganda that was used in a recent episode, involving Jaqui Lambi, of "Go back to where you came from" on SBS. It responds to a recent article (republished here) by Vanessa Beeley about very recent massacres conducted by IS, close to a US Army base, which has allowed IS convoys to pass through open desert, unhindered. On 2 October 2018, Mrs Thoraya Um Ammaar was executed on video by IS over two months after she and about 25 other women and children were kidnapped from the Sweida countryside, south of Damascus on July 25th 2018. US Coalition forces remain camped in Al Tanf, 330km to the East. It is simply intolerable that IS can occupy that part of Syrian territory while aggressively threatening anyone who comes near it.
Report by Vanessa Beeley
What makes me particularly angry about this, and the killing of the hostage on October 2nd, is that this week in Australia there has been a huge fuss about a live TV program called “Go Back to Where you Came From” – where numbers of celebrities have gone to “some of the most dangerous places in the world” to see what it feels like for refugees (those ones who try to escape to Australia) https://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/jacqui-lambie-and-sbs-crew-caught-in-isis-attack-in-syria-20181002-p5079s.html
So where in Syria do you think that two women, one a former anti-Muslim immigration independent Senator, – would be taken? Raqqa. And in an event which I begin to think was staged, two days before the program started, an “IS sleeper cell” started shooting in the area near to where the TV crew was, so they had to be evacuated to Kobane - in Syria!(just under the Turkish border).
This sleeper cell purportedly raised the IS flag from a building not far from the centre of Raqqa, in mid afternoon. How likely is that, or even possible? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/raqqas_dirty_secret
At no point in the introduction – where we saw the identities being rushed under cover, was the fact that US soldiers were assisting them even thought worthy of mention!
And of course Lambie and Marina would have no idea that they are just as much victims in this god-awful propaganda war as the rest of us. It may make you a bit sick to read that Lambie ( who has a better side as down to earth, and once in the army) found it thrilling to be “on the front line” and “to feel how our troops must have felt”. Never mind that Australia doesn’t admit to having any troops in Syria, only Afghanistan.
I’ve long thought that Jackie Lambie would be moved to know that upwards of 85,000 regular Syrian soldiers have been killed by the terrorist invaders, defending their countrymen.
This program began as a series about five years ago, as apparently a genuine attempt to make prejudiced Australians aware of just what refugees were going through. But now it seems that this message is not so important, while it is used to put the case for the US coalition staying in Syria because otherwise “IS could come back”. The threat of Islamist terrorism is constantly beaten up here in OZ, to suit the agenda of the powers that be; the threat that they present, along with their US and UK allies, is infinitely greater.
And of course this week we’ve also had the Nobel Peace Prize to the Yazidi woman – with some blurb about “fighting the use of rape as a weapon of war”. What about the use of the threat of rape as a weapon of war, for which the US would instantly qualify?
The hypocrisy is enough to make you go mad I think.
I will look at the pink hollyhocks that grow in front of our house with Syrians in mind now...
On the 2nd October 2018, a young woman’s life was brought to a brutal end by a bullet from an ISIS executioner’s hand-gun. Mrs Thoraya Um Ammar was executed on video by the terrorist group more than two months after she and twenty five other women and children were kidnapped from the Sweida countryside, south of Damascus on July 25th 2018.
[Note: Numbers of kidnap victims do vary. While in Shbeki, I was told 32 were originally kidnapped but that a number of them managed to escape their captors and return to their village]
Civilian martyrs names and photographs displayed at entrance to the village of Shrehi in eastern Sweida countryside. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
The images circulating of this execution are extremely distressing and we will not be sharing them in this article. During my recent visit to Syria, I visited three of the seven villages that came under attack in the eastern countryside of Sweida City on that fateful day in July 2018. The grief and anger was still very raw but civilians spoke to me of the bloodshed that was a result of the meticulously planned ISIS attack, unhindered by the US Coalition forces camped in Al Tanf, 330km to the East. ISIS entered the villages from the east and traversed vast areas of exposed desert to do so, apparently undetected by those who claim to wage war on ISIS inside Syria.
“The roads of Shrehi ran with blood” H Saab told me as we stood next to his family home in Shrehi where four of his relatives were murdered by the marauding ISIS gangs. He pointed to the still visible stains on the road in front of us and on the walls of the house and courtyard.
Our journey began in Damascus. We left early in the morning and headed due south before taking the road that brought us to the east of Sweida city and to the villages that form a chain north to south, only about 1km apart. As we entered the province of Sweida, we began to see the elaborate memorials to martyrs killed in Syria’s war against Western-sponsored terrorism. Our guide told us that these beautiful monuments are in honour of the soldiers who have given their lives in defence of their homeland. Many of these impressive structures are placed at the entrance to villages “so their names are remembered for eternity by all those who live because they died“.
We were told that some of these graves also date back to the 1925 ‘Great Syrian Revolt or ‘Great Druze Revolt’ against France. They are wonderful to behold, rising out of the dry desert plains, backdropped by the hills and trees that pepper the landscape stretching out in front of us.
On the drive down to the villlage of Shrehi, our guide H Saab told us that thirty-five members of his family had been killed in the ISIS attack that took place in the early hours of the 25th July 2018. I asked him what he believed to be behind this attack. He told me that he thought it was to reduce SAA pressure on the ISIS terrorists holding out in Yarmouk Basin at this time. Perhaps to give them an escape route to the US base at Al Tanf.
We entered Shahba City dating from Byzantine times and a city modelled on ancient Rome – “temples, triumphal arches, baths, a theatre, and a great wall surrounding the city were all built based on the plan of a typical Roman city”. We exited the ancient city through the remains of the East Gate and continued on to a number of towns and villages, some built during the Ottoman empire. H Saab told me that many of these village have labyrinths of caves that run underground beneath the houses.
At the entrance to Shrehi, one of the villages attacked by ISIS in July, we stopped the car to visit the poster that had been erected with the names of the martyrs killed during the attack. Young men, women, children, murdered by a terrorist group with a history of collusion with the US Coalition against Syria and the Syrian Arab Army. Acclaimed journalist, Elijah J. Magnier wrote at the time:
“ISIS knew it was possible for its convoy to drive under the eyes of a superpower state (the US) without being disturbed.”
Video footage of entering Shrehi. Watch:
We drove up to one of the highest points in the village of Shrehi to meet with the representatives of the village and the survivors of the attack. We entered the traditional “madafa”, the welcoming room in the Saab family home.
Once inside the Madafa the story of the attack was told by Khaled Saleh Saab.
“The terrorists entered the village at 4 am while most of us were still sleeping. We were awoken by the shooting and the cries of ‘Allah Akhbar’. They shot out the lights in the village and there was no moon that night so they worked under the cover of total darkness”
On the way into Shrehi we had passed a house that had been one of the first to be targeted (see video), the mother, father and son were murdered by ISIS, the daughter was injured but survived. According to Khaled, 53 ISIS terrorists entered the village and all of them were eventually killed by the young men defending their families and their land:
“We defended our land and our homes because this land is mixed with the blood of generations of our people. We will not accept that people without morals or humanity can touch this land. We stay, we will stand and defend this land until we die. Our youth killed these terrorists even though they had very old weapons, very simple weapons. The ISIS fighters had modern, expensive equipment but we still defeated them.” said Khaled.
Khaled told us that the clashes continued from 4 am until 1pm. Between 4 and 5 am the ISIS fighters took advantage of the sleeping civilians and murdered many of them in their sleep before they had time to warn their neighbours.
“The attack was a well planned military operation. ISIS coordinated their attacks in order to paralyse all the villages. They positioned snipers around the villages and along the roads that connect the villages to prevent people moving between villages or coming to the help of neighbouring villages. They came from the south and moved north.” Khaled continued.
In one of the bloodiest massacres of the eight year war in Syria, 270 civilians were martyred during this attack, more than 300 injured.
“Many of our young men, women and children bled to death in the street. Nobody was able to get to them or to transport them to hospital. If they tried they would be sniped.” Khaled told us.
Khaled told us that, in his opinion, many of the ISIS fighters were on drugs, very likely to be Captagon. “We fired many bullets into them, but they kept fighting” he told us and this was confirmed by other family members in the madafa. In January 2017, “at least 137kg of Captagon, dubbed a “jihadist drug” and “the drug of the Syrian conflict,” was seized at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in a first for France, customs officials said, adding that half of the illicit cargo was destined for Saudi Arabia.” Captagon is a psychostimulant that is used as a performance enhancer by the extremist gangs that have invaded Syria since 2011.
“After we killed the ISIS terrorists, we checked their IDs. They were Chechen, Saudi, Iraqi, Palestinian, Egyptian, Somalian. One was wearing a suicide belt, nothing remained of him after he had detonated it.”
In Shrehi alone there were 37 civilians martyred. These included Khaled’s mother, father, brother and cousin who were killed in the home we were talking in.
“These groups, all of them, are supported by the UK, US and Gulf States to target and destroy our peaceful towns. Throughout history Syria has sacrificed martyrs and we are ready to sacrifice our souls for our land despite more than 120 countries attacking us with the terrorist groups as their instrument. They should know we will stand and fight to defend our land and our people”
Just one of the countless heroes from Sweida countryside – Khaled’s brother, Iskandar Saab had served in the 102 “Batch” of the Syrian Arab Army which had been decommissioned just two months before the ISIS attack on his home village of Shrehi on the 25th July 2018.
Iskandar came face to face with the crazed ISIS terrorists as he attempted to scale the hill leading up to his family’s house. He was shot in his right leg, his hand and his back. A local graduate of trade and economy and a math teacher, Mr Mahran Radi Saab saved Iskandar and managed to take him to his brother Khaled Saab. After rescuing Iskandar, Mahran was shot and killed by an ISIS sniper.
Despite his life-threatening wounds, Iskandar managed to get into his car and drive 300m under fire from the ISIS snipers who had lined the roads joining the three villages of Rami, Shrehi and Shebki.
“This land, this property belongs to our blood. It belongs to us. We will never allow any super-power to steal our land or to control our lives, our future” Khaled Saab reinforced this message several times during our talk.
After the meeting we went to the home of Ziad Saab for breakfast, which in Syria translates into “banquet”.
Ziad’s brother in law lived in one of the houses at the entrance of the village, one of the first to be attacked. As soon as the attack happened, Ziad’s brother in law managed to relay a warning to Ziad who lives with his wife and children deeper inside the village. Ziad took his simple hunting rifle and went to help. As he neared his brother in law’s home, he saw many ISIS terrorists firing randomly and fierce clashes between the ISIS fighters and civilians. It was still dark at this point. Ziad made the decision to return home to protect his own wife and children and to take his family to a safer place.
Then Ziad tried to call his brother in law. An ISIS fighter answered the phone and told Ziad his brother in law was dead, he told Ziad to call an ambulance for his own family members – they would be killed also “there will be no escape”. The ISIS terrorists also attacked the brother in law’s two daughters and their mother – 10 year old Hela and 13 year old Hala.
As we were eating breakfast, a 6 month old baby was brought into the room. Her name is Ghala. Her father was murdered just 100 meters from Ziad’s house, by the ISIS terrorists. Watching Ghala playing in the arms of H Saab, it is painful to comprehend the scale of devastation and loss that these villages have experienced. A recent Facebook post by Syrian, Wissam Sliman puts it into perspective:
“Imagine that this were your village, or your neighborhood! Imagine that one of those were your house! Imagine that the same thing happened to you! Imagine that you lost a family member, or maybe two, or maybe more! Imagine that your mother, sister, daughter or son is still kidnapped and now in the hands of the worst terrorist group ever which is ISIS!
And above all imagine that it didn’t mean anything to half of your brothers and sisters in humanity in this world,just because they are still sleeping, daydreaming and refusing to wake up! What hurts you is that if they did wake up 7 years ago, you would have had many of your beloved ones around you now, but they didn’t, cause they are still refusing to wake up!
The truth is as clear as pure water on a virgin Island, there is only one difference in the case of Syria, the truth about Syria is very painful and heartbreaking while that water on that virgin island…”
The media reports in the West were a cursory glance at the impacts of this ISIS attack upon this community, a skating over of detail and no mention of the potential connection to the US coaliton. As always, the true victims of this 8 year war will be brushed under the carpet while the focus remains upon the whitewashing of the perpertrators of the crimes against the Syrian people – the “rebel”-washing of the terrorist gangs who have been enabled to roam freely across Syria by the US Coalition and its Gulf State financiers of the sectarian ideologues described by the Colonial media as “moderates”.
During our conversations, Ziad gave a very simple message to people in the West, particularly in the UK. Watch:
A burned out car seemed fused to the earth at the entrance to Shbeki. The car, a Skoda, had once belonged to Bahjat Atallah Saab who tried to rescue Zahi Jadallah Saab and his wife and son, Assem Zahi Saab, a law student. The entire car was targeted when they tried to flee the ISIS attack on Shbeki that began at 4am on 25th July 2018. The car came under attack by the ISIS snipers before being targeted by an RPG which turned the car into a furnace from which the occupants did not escape. Martyr Bahgat Saab was working as an Arabic language teacher.
The horrific ISIS bloodbath continued in Shbeki, in fact it intensified. In this village, 60 civilians were martyred, many of them systematically picked off by ISIS snipers after they occupied one of the outlying homes set high up overlooking the buildings and streets that lay below. The house owner was in Lebanon when he heard news of the attack. He rushed home to find out what had happened to his family, he was shot and killed by the ISIS occupiers.
Video from the rooftop of the house taken over by ISIS snipers in Shbeki. WATCH:
Hazem, a young student in his third year studying research science at Damascus University, received a call at 4.40 am on the 25th July 2018, when he was in Sweida city. He was told that his home town of Shbeki was under attack by ISIS fighters.
Hazem got in a car with five of his friends and tried to drive home, he was being guided by people inside the town who warned him which roads to avoid because ISIS had set up snipers along many of the entry roads into his village. Hazem entered from the south which was longer but safer. At 5.30 am he was still unable to enter because of the battles that were raging between the terrorists and the residents, determined to defend their families and land.
Hazem welcomed us in the traditional Sweida Madafa – the welcome room – of his family home. The sun poured through the glass onto the beautiful marble floor and chairs arranged around the sides of the room to provide a space to talk. Hazem recounted the appalling acts of violence committed by the ISIS terrorists who had entered the towns from the direction of the US base at Al Tanf, to the north-east of Shbeki, Shrehi and Rami..the villages I was able to visit.
Hazem’s testimony was shocking. He told us that his family and other civilians were rounded up and taken to what he called the “bedouin house” at the outskirts of the village overlooking the plains and desert that stretch out towards the east and in the direction of the US military base at Al Tanf.
There, the ISIS terrorists took all the men outside and executed them in cold blood. Among them were Hazem’s father, brothers, cousin and neighbour. The ISIS fighters then forced the women and children to come outside to see the bodies of their fathers, sons, husbands before they kidnapped them and headed north east with the kidnap victims, towards Tilal Al Safa.
Hazem confirmed that 60 civilians were martyred in Shbeki, the majority from sniper bullets after ISIS fighters took control of houses placed high above the village which enabled them to assassinate the young men who flocked to defend their families, one by one. Most of these young men did not realise that their hometown was infested by ISIS snipers – just as in the other villages, ISIS had attacked at 4 am under complete darkness and while everyone was sleeping. As in Shrehi, they shot out all the village lights during their approach before entering homes and murdering civilians, including children, while they slept. Hazem told us that a disabled child was beheaded as he lay sleeping in his bed.
Hazem’s mother had been used as a human shield by the ISIS fighters who forced her to walk in front of them to prevent the civilians firing upon them. She was later among the kidnap victims although she and Hazem’s sister in law managed to escape and returned to the village just after midnight. They were terrified that ISIS had taken over the village so they slept in an abandoned house just outside the village. The following evening, they were able to recognise their neighbours and families who had survived and defended their village, preventing total occupation by the terrorist group.
During the march, Hazem’s uncle’s wife had collapsed and had been unable to continue. The first group of ISIS terrorists left her where she lay and refused to leave anyone to take care of her. Later, another team of ISIS fighters followed on behind and executed her on the road. Her body was eventually found, the next day, 6km from the village.
While we were talking with Hazem, a young boy came in to the Madafa and lay on one of the chairs. His name was Ismail, 8 years old. His father was murdered by the ISIS fighters and he was among the kidnap victims. During the move north-east with ISIS, Ismail had managed to mingle with some Bedouin children and escape the ISIS groups, before finally making it back to his village.
Before we left, Hazem wanted to send a message about the remaining 25 kidnap victims, almost entirely women and children:
Hazem showed us the road that ISIS took with the kidnap victims.
“They took the women and children who were in the Bedouin house by this road. They gathered the other women at the same end of the town next to the graves. All the women were in one place around 8.30 in the morning but they waited a long time before moving them. They took this road to the north. They took them in the direction of the Tial Al Safa hills which you can see from the Bedouin house. We think they reached the Tilal Al Safa hills after five or six days.”
I asked Hazem if he was worried about sleeper cells or further attacks from the ISIS members. He pointed to the closest SAA checkpoint about 30 km to the north east of the village. He told me:
“There are big gaps between the SAA checkpoints, around 5km, so yes, we are worried that they may try to come back. It is not considered safe here after dark at the moment. From 5pm onwards the young men of the villages man the checkpoints in readiness for any possible attacks. We will not allow another massacre.”
The SAA have been making huge inroads in the area of Tilal Al Safa towards defeating the remnants of ISIS that have taken comfort in the shelter provided to them by the proximity of the US base in Al Tanf.
“ISIS benefitted from the US safety parameter around its military base at al-Tanaf, preventing Syrian and Iraqi armies from breaking into this parameter to pursue ISIS when needed. ISIS took advantage of the US measures and used the area to cross for the north where there is the bulk of its forces.” ~ Elijah J Magnier
Today, 6th October 2018, Syrian Arab News Agency reported:
“Units of the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with the allied forces, on Saturday continued to tighten the noose around Daesh (ISIS) terrorists’ remnants in depth of the rocky cliffs surroundings Tilal al-Safa, the last stronghold for terrorists deep in Sweida eastern Badiya (desert). The army continues to advance in the depth of the rocky cliffs, comb the caves and the cav”erns in the recently liberated areas, seizing weapons and munitions left behind by the terrorists, the reporter indicated.”
One of the kidnap victims, Thoraya Um Ammar, has been executed by ISIS, the others await their fate, surely praying that the SAA will be able to reach them and to drive out and destroy their ISIS captors. The unity and resilience of the people of the Sweida countryside is what has enabled them to survive the ISIS attack and its traumatic aftermath.
As I walked away from the stone “Bedouin” house that had been witness to such bloodthirsty brutality and violence, I spotted a flower stubbornly clinging to the wall outside. This is the spirit that has borne Syria through this 8 year war with such dignity and honour. The desire to defend their roots, to live and to love life against all odds.
Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. Please support Vanessa at her Patreon Account.
This is a truly outstanding analysis, by James Corbett of the Corbett Report, of an unusual case of internet bullying. It is an unusual case because it involves adults bullying adults. Furthermore, it involves journalists bullying journalists. Additionally, the first journalist, Sibel Edmonds, who is being mean to another journalist, Vanessa Beeley, is an ex-FBI employee. It seems that the objective is for Budnews, which Sibel Edmonds owns, to undermine real alternative news. All the stranger since Sibel Edmonds has appeared on many sites she now implies are fake news and has endorsed their points of view on Syria. It is not as if she is coming out and saying that she has changed her mind; she appears to be in some form of denial. Her apparent confidence in carrying out a campaign of evident defamation, lacking logic, truth or moderation, is hard to understand, unless she has major financial backing. It is hard to see any other beneficiaries of her political campaign, which I would call severe disinformation, except the US-NATO military industrial and media complex. This complex already has the backing of the entire corporate media, but it seems that it has a program of encouraging fake alternative news-sites, because its ability to dominate middle-class and influential 'memes' is severely threatened by real alternative news reporting. By the way, candobetter.net has published articles by Vanessa Beeley, based on their logic, her reporting from the field, and our knowledge of the situation in Syria, which is based on geopolitical experience, history and geography, plus multiple sources and logic, unlike reports emanating from the corporate media.
John Pilger and Vanessa Beeley talk about the amazing growth in mass-media supported war propaganda in our times, including the grotesque fantasies manufactured about Russian intervention in US elections and the creation of a false cold war. Vanessa Beeley describes how, when she was in Aleppo, she was witness to the absolute fabrication of what was happening there. And now, the almost complete silence on what seems like American ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Raqqua - where the US is using depleted uranium, phosporos weapons and not providing any humanitarian corridors.
An egregious example of western misreporting on Syria has been a rash of articles focusing on 'rebel' complaints about how few doctors there are in Aleppo, for instance: Hugh Naylor, "The last few doctors still in Aleppo sent a letter to Obama pleading for help", Washington Post, August 11, 2016. (Actually referring to eastern Aleppo, held by terrorists.) Journalist Eva Bartlett decided to verify the situation by going to Aleppo herself. She reports what she found in a Crosstalk interview, "White Helmets, really?". Inside this article is the text of her comments and the video. See also, Eva Bartlett: "Western corporate media 'disappears' over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors"
EVA BARTLETT: [15:58-17:54min into the video:] "In my last visit to Syria, I went twice to Aleppo, mainly with the express intent of seeing what life was like in Aleppo, but also to speak with the Aleppo Medical Association. And this was an important factor because this association has over 4,160 registered doctors. And so, you know, when we talk about the talking points that are taken as fact by most corporate media and, unfortunately, some alternative media that is supposed to be representing the left, they will run these headlines.
We've seen it especially quite recently, 'the last doctor in Aleppo', 'the last pediatrician in Aleppo', 'the last hospitals in Aleppo'. And, so, you know, establishing that there are actually over 4000 registered doctors in Aleppo, including 800 specialists, is one important aspect. But also visiting: as a journalist, who went to visit the hospitals that have been attacked - actually attacked, and documented by these western-backed terrorists - for example the Dahbeet Maternity Hospital in Aleppo, which was attacked on May 3rd - this is important.
And this is something that these corporate media journalists could do if they were interested in telling the truth. They could have gone to Jableh, which, on May 23rd, on the same day that Tartous was attacked, Jableh suffered a series of massive terrorist suicide and car-bombing attacks. And you would think that this was important news.
One of these attacks was the suicide bomber that exploded himself in the Emergency Room - Ward of the Jableh Hospital, which was already treating people that had been injured in prior suicide attacks that day. So these are very key stories that didn't get any coverage in corporate media." [More on Jableh.
"Meanwhile you have outlets like Fox, showing the Kindi Hospital, which was a state hospital - the best in the Middle East for cancer treatment - that was destroyed. It was truck-bombed in December 2013 by Al-Nusra. And now you have Fox showing this hospital - this image - and saying that this is in eastern Aleppo and that the so-called 'government airplanes' have destroyed it. This is the level of propaganda that we are dealing with. And one day to the next you'll see, 'the last hospital', 'the last four hospitals', the last doctors', 'the last twenty doctors'. There's no consistency, even in their lies."
The following statement is made on behalf of the U.S. Peace Council and others:
- We respectfully request that the members of the Rights Livelihood Award committee review their award of this prestigious award to the organisation known as the White Helmets.
- We believe strongly that this award has been given in error, perhaps because not enough evidence was presented to the committee. We ask the committee to consider the following, documented, and supported evidence:
We respectfully request that the members of the Rights Livelihood Award committee review their award of this prestigious award to the organisation known as the White Helmets.
We believe strongly that this award has been given in error, perhaps because not enough evidence was presented to the committee. We ask the committee to consider the following, documented, and supported evidence:
The White Helmets claim to be a neutral, impartial, humanitarian NGO, with no official affiliation to any political or military actor and a commitment to render services to any in need regardless of sect or political affiliation. We will now determine the legitimacy of this claim.
1: They receive funding from UK ( $65m), US ( via USAID $ 23m), Holland ($ 4.5m), Germany ($ 7.87m) and Japan via the Mayday Rescue “foundation” that was set up by the British ex-military trainer of the White Helmets in order to transfer funding to the White Helmets. The White Helmets also receive equipment and supplies from various EU member states.
2: The White Helmets were established in Gazientap, Turkey not inside Syria. They are largely trained in Turkey and Jordan, not inside Syria.
3: The White Helmets are embedded exclusively in areas of Syria occupied by Nusra Front and ISIS, along with various associated “moderate rebels” such as Ahrar al Sham and Nour Al Din Zinki, both of which are responsible for carrying out ethnic cleansing operations and executions of the Syrian people. Nour Al Din Zinki was recently videoed beheading 12 year old Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa.
4: During the situation in Madaya in January 2016, the White Helmets in Idlib were photographed attending demonstrations & carrying banners that were calling for the “burning and destruction” of Kafarya and Foua. These are two Idlib villages under full siege by Ahrar Al Sham & Nusra Front (Al Qaeda in Syria) since March 2015, partial siege since 2012. The siege ensures the starvation of villagers and daily shelling and sniping by Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front has killed over 1750 civilians during this time.
5: There is video and photographic evidence available that clearly shows the White Helmets participating in Nusra Front operations in the areas occupied or taken over by this organisation. There is one particularly damning video taken during the Nusra Front violent and brutal attack on Idlib City in March 2015. In this video White Helmet operatives are seen clearly beating a Syrian civilian prisoner of Nusra Front and circling the prisoner, mingling with heavily armed and hostile Nusra Front militia. https://www.youtube.
6: The White Helmets have been filmed “clearing up” after a Nusra Front execution of a civilian prisoner in Northern Aleppo. Although the official statement from the White Helmets claims they arrived after the execution, the speed with which they appear (in video) immediately after the prisoner has been shot in the head, demonstrates clearly that they were on the scene and did nothing to prevent it.
7: Various other White Helmet operatives have posted videos of the torture and execution of Syrian Arab Army prisoners to their social media pages with celebratory comments. One such operative, Muawiya Hassan Agha, is alleged to have been “sacked” for his participation in such executions. However, despite various demands, an official statement has never been issued by the White Helmets to this effect. Neither have they publicly condemned the torture and execution of prisoners of war, an act that contravenes the Geneva Convention.
8: The leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, was deported from Dulles Airport in the US, April 2016. No real explanation was ever given for this decision. Mark Toner of the US State Department fielded questions from media but did (i) Admit to funding the group with $ 23m and (ii) suggest that Raed Saleh might have “extremist connections”. Raed Saleh has recently been allowed back into the US in September 2016 and spoke at the UN New York with the Dutch Mission. However, no explanation has been given for this reversal of the previous decision to deport Saleh.
9: The White Helmets are also known as the Syria Civil Defence. However, there is an existing Syria Civil Defence. The REAL Syria Civil Defence was established in Syria in 1953. Vanessa Beeley met with crews in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and Damascus during four weeks she recently spent in Syria. The REAL Syria Civil Defence were founder members of the ICDO [International Civil Defence Organisation] which is affiliated with the UN, WHO, OCHA, Red Cross, Red Crescent. The REAL Syria Civil Defence are still paying annual subscriptions to the ICDO of 20,000 Swiss Francs. The REAL Syria Civil Defence do operate in both terrorist and government held areas, they operate with equipment that has been decimated by the war & sanctions and they do not receive up to $ 100 m in funding from the US, UK and EU states. They are recruited and trained inside Syria.
10: During interviews with the REAL Syria Civil Defence, they informed Beeley, that the Nusra Front and associated “moderate rebels “ who invaded areas such as East Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Idlib, massacred crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence and stole the majority of their equipment in those areas, including fire engines and ambulances. Many of these armed groups then became White Helmet operatives. Testimony from the REAL Syria Civil Defence suggests that the White Helmets are acting as support for Nusra Front, ISIS and other heavily armed militia described as “moderate rebels”.
11: The White Helmets have been exposed, recycling images of children and incidents from the conflict in Syria, to support their narrative, using images from a previous incident or even fake images altogether. There are many documented instances of this.
12: The White Helmets have been filmed describing Syrian Arab Army bodies as “trash” and one particular video shows them standing on top of a pile of SAA soldier’s bodies, whose boots have been removed or stolen. The White Helmets talk about the bodies in pejorative terms and they flick a victory V sign as the truck drives off.
13: There are many images documented, that reveal the White Helmet operatives carrying arms or posing with arms alongside the various armed militia including Nusra Front. There is also further footage from Idlib showing White Helmet operatives celebrating alongside Nusra Front militia after the massacre of Syrian Arab Army forces and Syrian civilians during this attack.
14: Adulatory publicity about the White Helmets is the result of commercial marketing and social media promotion via a network that is funded by George Soros and various US, UK and Middle Eastern enterprises. The PR network is: Avaaz – Purpose – Syria Campaign – White Helmets. The funding and connections back to organisations and US state funded entities that have a vested interest in events in Syria is also extensively documented.
15: The White Helmets achieve on average 4 or 5 videos per day, depicting their rescue efforts. The REAL Syria Civil Defence have evaluated these videos and cast doubt as to the White Helmets being true first responders or USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) experts. They pinpointed various anomalies (i) the equipment used is too heavyweight for the delicate operation of finding bodies beneath collapsed buildings (ii) the treatment of injured bodies is dangerous, they are flung onto stretchers with no back support or neck brace, for example. Many of the paramedic procedures shown on film are also deemed questionable. The White Helmets rarely travel without a sizeable camera team or crew of mobile phone cameramen. The REAL Syria Civil Defence do not.
16: Vanessa Beeley conducted a video interview with Dr Bassem Hayak of the Aleppo Medical Association, based in West Aleppo. Dr Hayak still has family trapped in East Aleppo. Dr Hayak told me that his family and the majority of civilians in East Aleppo (occupied by Nusra Front and an estimated 22 brigades of armed militants) do not know who the White Helmets are which begs the question, where are they conducting their much promoted humanitarian work? Dr Hayak also said that UN agencies in East Aleppo who work with the Aleppo Medical Association are not aware of the White Helmets.
In summary, this evidence points to the White Helmets being a US, UK, EU creation established in 2013, not an independent NGO. It is an organisation with clear affiliation to governments involved & invested in the Syrian conflict. It is not a grass-roots Syrian organisation. There is an existing Syria Civil Defence that is being ignored.
The evidence demonstrates that the White Helmets are sectarian not impartial. They are in many instances, armed not unarmed. The promotional material produced for the White Helmets such as the recent Netflix Movie, is produced outside Syria, usually in Turkey and with footage received from the White Helmets. Who has verified the authenticity of this footage?
The White Helmets claim to be neutral and non-aligned yet they actively promote and lobby for US/NATO state intervention. This is in direct violation of the norms of authentic humanitarian work and certainly not deserving of the Rights Livelihood Award.
This organisation, effectively, campaigns for war in Syria.
The White Helmets are feeding images of “humanitarian disaster” and “war crimes” to the western nations who are funding them, and to politicians and media outlets who are using these visual narratives in order to lobby for a US, UK Foreign Office stated policy of a “Safe Zone” or “No Fly Zone” in Syria. History teaches us that a No Fly Zone policy carries with it the threat of reducing Syria to a Libya style “failed state”.
Many of their “campaigns” have been discredited as “war fiction” yet are being used as justification for increased sanctions, a collective punishment of the Syrian people, and equipping and arming of the various militia on the ground in Syria, including Nusra Front.
This only serves to ensure no end to the suffering and bloodshed inside Syria.
The presentation of the Right Livelihood Award to the White Helmets will ultimately discredit the Right Livelihood Foundation. More importantly, the awarding of this prize to a suspect and fraudulent organisation serves to perpetuate the conflict in Syria and to delay the possibility of any peaceful resolution.
We call on the leaders of the Right Livelihood Foundation to investigate the evidence presented in this statement and to retract the RLA award, if this evidence is proven sufficient to disqualify the White Helmets.
Thank you for your consideration of this very important matter.
US Peace Council member (part of recent US Peace Council delegation to Syria July 2016)
Compilation of most important articles and talks on the White Helmets: Who are the Syria White Helmets
First published on 21st Century Wire.
“We declare our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” ~ Malcolm X
Yesterday Parliamentary elections were held in Syria. 7000 polling booths were opened across the country. 11, 341 candidates were proposed from across Syria with 250 to be elected to Parliament, including a number of female candidates.
Candidates were spread out as follows: 988 in Damascus, 817 in Damascus countryside, Aleppo 1437, in Aleppo regions 1048, In Idleb 386, in Homs 1800, Hama 700, Lattakia 1653, Tartous 634, Deir Ezzor 311, Hasaka 546, Raqqa 197, Daraa 321, Sweida 263 and in Quneitra 240
Voting centres opened at 7.30 am and were obliged to extend their sessions by five hours to accommodate the high turn out of voters.
Some of the women candidates in Syrian Parliamentary elections.
“The voting centers include over 2,000 centers in Damascus, 17 in Deir Ezzor, 1,047 in Lattakia, 661 in Homs, 347 in Sweida, 741 in Hama, 368 in Hasaka, 816 in Tartous, and 347 in Sweida are receiving voters.
It should be noted that voting centers were opened in Damascus, Damascus Countryside, Hama, Lattakia, Aleppo, Tartous, Hasaka, and Deir Ezzor to receive voters staying in these provinces who are originally from other areas, namely the provinces of Idleb, Raqqa, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, and Daraa.” ~ SANA
So contrary to spurious claims from western governments and media, efforts were made to open the voting to all Syrian civilians including those who have fled terrorists held areas. We must also bear in mind that over 90% of IDPs [Internally displaced persons] have fled to Government controlled areas, thus further discrediting claims that these elections are non representative.
On an equally positive note, of course ignored in the western and gulf media, 1.7 million of these internally displaced refugees have been able to return home thanks not only to the SAA [Syrian Arab Army] liberation of whole swathes of Syrian villages and towns from US NATO terrorist occupation but also due to the Syrian Governments laudable efforts to rebuild and restore infrastructure in these areas.
Small government loans are being given to impoverished families to enable them to re-establish their lives torn apart by the illegal war of aggression that has been waged against Syria by the US, NATO, GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Israel for the last five years.
It is guaranteed that none of these initiatives will be reported in the mainstream media, including the Syrian Higher Committee for Relief’s efforts to facilitate the delivery of Humanitarian aid to the remaining terrorist held civilian areas in Syria.
As Professor Tim Anderson [who is in Syria to observe the elections as indeed he was in 2014] said:
“Syrian democracy needs no outside approval. Repeated outside demands that ‘Assad must go’, or that a Washington-approved executive ‘transition government’ be formed, have become meaningless, since the military tide turned in the embattled country’s favour.”
The Syrian elections proceeded according to the Syrian constitution and law. We see this being enforced in Aleppo for example where it was decided that violations of the voting process had taken place and a re-election was called for.
UNSC [Security Council] resolution 2254 stated clearly that Syria’s future is in the hands of the Syrians and the Syrians are proving that they are doing just that with little fuss but a lot of enthusiasm and determination to deny foreign intervention in their sovereign affairs.
The Syrian “Dictator” goes to Vote
Now lets have a look at the President that western governments and their media minions would have us believe to be a bloodthirsty, butchering dictator as he and his wife Asma head for the polling booths with no security in sight.
Compare this if you will, to the protests being held across Britain demanding that David Cameron aka “Dodgy Dave” resign over the Panama papers scandal, the subsequent police clamp down and the manhandling of protestors.
Perhaps even more laughable in the face of the UK Government’s own deteriorating human rights record at home and abroad, is their statement on the Syrian elections:
Britain said Damascus’ decision to go ahead with the elections in the war-torn nation, where hundreds of thousands cannot take part, shows “how divorced (the government) is from reality.”
With homelessness and child poverty reaching Victorian levels in Britain, legal cases pending for criminal arms sales to the genocidal Saudi coalition conducting wholesale slaughter of Yemeni civilians, and recent reports on the British government clandestine assassination programmes, one would be justified in saying the British government has not only divorced itself from reality but from Humanity in every feasible way.
“Reprieve highlights the fact that Britain conspired in a US-inspired Kill List soon after 9/11. It says quite categorically that “Starting in 2002, working closely with the Americans, Britain had played a leading role in the euphemistic Joint Prioritized Effective List. As with Yemen, the JPEL Kill List was not even limited to a war zone – it spanned over into Pakistan, which was an ally, not an enemy at war.”
What this effectively means is that not only has Britain brought back the death penalty it has done so without public or parliamentary consultation, and carried out these deadly deeds regularly without even a basic trial.” ~ Britain’s Secret Assassination Programme
France takes the hippocritic oath.
France has also hit the deck with cries of illegitimacy regarding the Syrian elections.
“The idea that there could be elections is not just provocative but totally unrealistic. It would be proof that there are no negotiations or discussions [in Geneva].”~ Francois Hollande
This statement comes from the man who crossed an executioners palm with silver to secure a multi billion dollar arms deal with Qatar.
In this photo Hollande is presenting France’s most prestigious award, the Legion D’Honneur to Saudi interior minister, Muhammed Bin Nayef. Bin Nayef is personally responsible for choosing who of the many prisoners in Saudi jails is eligible for execution or crucifixion without trial and usually on trumped up charges.
So one is once more justified to ask, which leg is Hollande standing on when he denigrates Syrian elections while commending one of the world’s most renowned terrorists on his efforts to combat…terrorism.
The award for hypocrisy goes to..
US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the US “would view those elections as not legitimate in the sense that they don’t represent… the will of the Syrian people.
“So, to hold parliamentary elections now, given the current circumstances, given the current conditions in the country, we believe is at best premature and not representative of the Syrian people,” Toner said.
Early last week Toner said that “a political process that reflects the desires and will of the Syrian people is what should ultimately decide the future leadership and the future government of Syria.” ~ RT
Here is the response of the Syrian people to Mr Toner’s comments:
Mohammed Ali of Press TV reports from Damascus
As I said in yesterday’s exchange of messages with ex Ambassador to Syria and alleged death squad creator, Robert Ford:
“History is repeating itself a little too often Mr Ford, be very careful that you don’t bring your own house of cards down around your ears..Syria is denying your agenda time and time again and I can appreciate your Governments frustration but mistakes are being made and your propaganda apparatus is coming apart at the seams due largely to the integrity and unity of the Syrian people.
The day the US or any NATO member can say it had to extend the voting because such huge numbers turned out, is the day you can lecture me about “regimes”. The day your own Government is finally sanctioned and prosecuted as a war criminal for its policy of overtly or covertly butchering the peoples of sovereign nations is the day you can criticise any other duly elected world government.”
The US, NATO, GCC and Israeli agenda has careered into the brick wall of Syrian resistance, integrity and unity. The will of the Syrian people is being listened to by the Syrian government.
Ideologically and spiritually the Syrian people believe in their political and military victory. The Syrian people have said “no” time and time again to foreign intervention. They have endured crippling economic sanctions, invasions by proxy terrorist armies, occupation by mass murderers funded and armed by the US and NATO alliance but their resilience will ensure their self determination against all odds.
To achieve their objectives in Syria, the US and NATO are reliant upon mercenaries, terrorists, rapists and felons who have no vested interest in victory other than lining their own pockets with drugs and oil revenue.
The US and NATO agenda in Syria has no basis in law or even sound ideology, it is based upon pure greed and power sustained by corruption and inhumanity. It shall fail and Syria will emerge unbowed, stronger and ultimately victorious. The Syrian people have redrawn the geopolitical road map with strength of will alone. This is the will you should be respecting Mr Toner, no other.
“The Syrian people are engaged in a war that has been going on for five years, through which terrorism managed to shed innocent blood and destroy much infrastructure, but it failed in achieving the primary goal it was assigned, which is destroying the principle structure in Syria, meaning the social structure of the national identity.” ~ President Bashar al Assad.
Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.
Regime change PR: Your guide to Western-sponsored propaganda in Syria “Propaganda is the spreading of information in support of a cause. It’s not so important whether the information is true or false or if the cause is just or not — it’s all propaganda.” “The word, propaganda is often used in a negative sense, especially for politicians who make false claims to get elected or spread rumours to instigate regime change [sic]. In fact, any campaign that is used to persuade can be called propaganda.” Russia’s involvement in Syria has caused a flurry of “cold war”, Assad/ISIS co-dependency propaganda, all being produced by the usual suspects and all with the primary objective of invoking a No Fly Zone in Syria and stoking the “Russian Bear threat” fires that have been smouldering for some time. I am going to attempt to dismantle this propaganda edifice one brick at a time. Article first published at http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/10/02/humanitarian-propaganda-war-against-syria-led-by-avaaz-and-the-white-helmets/ on October 2, 2015 by Vanessa Beeley at 21stcenturywire.com.
Russia Attacks CIA’s ‘Moderate Rebels’ in Syria
In a Telegraph article dated 1st October 2015, with the headline British Troops Head to Saudi Arabia to train Syrian rebels, it was stated:
“The FSA is considered the most moderate of factions fighting Bashar al-Assad’s government, but has been increasingly side-lined on the battlefield by more extremist Islamist factions. It has also been riven by leadership disputes.
“American-led attempts to train up moderates to hold ground against ISIL are months behind schedule because of the difficulty of finding groups which were not linked to the extremists.”
The term “moderate rebels” has become one of the most significant misnomers (by now, a running joke in international intelligence circles) of this soon-to-be five year conflict. The hijacking of any semblance of a legitimate opposition to the Syrian Government by NATO, the US and regional allies including Israel in order to achieve their desired regime change – has been well documented.
Who are these elusive “moderate rebels”? You may well ask. Traditionally it is the US-backed “Free Syria Army” (FSA) which has long been marketed as the cuddly, viable alternative to the duly elected government led by President Bashar al Assad – which incidentally is the internationally recognised (outside of Washington and London) official government of Syria, supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Recent polls place Assad’s popularity at around 80%. Unfortunately, we don’t have to dig too deep to reveal the hard-line Islamist, Salafi affiliations of this so-called ‘moderate’ group of brigands.
Journalist Daniel Greenfield puts it most succinctly: “Few media outlets are willing to say that out loud, but it’s quite true. There is no Free Syrian Army. It’s an umbrella for providing Western aid to a front group run by the Muslim Brotherhood.” He deplores the shaky Pentagon math that Obama and Congress have used in an attempt to downplay the reality that even in 2013 Pentagon sources were reluctantly admitting that extremist groups constituted over 50% of Syrian “opposition” and that these numbers were steadily increasing.
Soros in Syria: ‘Humanitarian’ NGO Deployed For Regime Change, Not Aid
This map below clearly shows the weakness of this “moderate rebel” argument as it unequivocally demonstrates the minor FSA presence at the frontline of Syrian opposition. They compose of fragmented mercenary groups largely unable to operate without extremist logistical support.
So this rather dispels the “moderate” myth and leads to the conclusion that, in reality, Russia was targeting areas north of Homs that contained very few civilians and is an area controlled by a dangerous conclave of militant fighting groups that include the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al Nusra, and other Jihadist opposition fighters supported by the US alliance.
It must also be remembered that the majority of civilians will flee an area infested by such mercenaries and seek refuge in Syria government-held areas. That fact alone should indicate who the people of Syria really favor. So, 90% of IDPs are in government-held areas. This is another fact conveniently omitted from most mainstream media reports.
It also makes a mockery of Defence Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s claims in the New York Times yesterday:
“By supporting Assad and seemingly taking on everybody fighting Assad,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday, Russia is “taking on the whole rest of the country that’s fighting Assad.” Some of those groups, he added, are supported by the United States and need to be part of a political resolution in Syria.
“That’s why the Russian position is doomed to fail,” Mr. Carter said.
Despite Carter’s pleas, the opposite seems to be true. Russia is effectively exposing US policy in Syria as naked hegemony, and America is not happy.
While the US has been supplying TOW missiles and a variety of arms/equipment to extremists and deliberately funding any group that will secure regime change, Russia is actively deploying its military to target the nests of terrorist mercenaries and opportunists waiting eagerly for the political vacuum that would be created by the “removal” of Assad, in order to inflict their extremism upon the Syrian people. They may not be technically called ISIS but they are cut from the same cloth of US/Israeli proxy terrorism and should be eliminated from any sovereign nation. Failure to do so has catastrophic results as seen in Libya and Iraq.
The Propaganda Trail
As soon as Russia launched its first airstrike against terrorist positions this week, the western media immediately piled-in with disinformation, in an attempt to demonize their efforts to support the Syrian government’s own 4 year-long war on terror.
Now let’s examine the unsavoury marketing aspect of the propaganda campaign being waged by a frustrated and increasingly infuriated US alliance. Of course the usual triad has leapt into action. Human Rights Watch (HRW), Avaaz and the White Helmets.
Avaaz has produced one of its most poisonous and misleading petitions to date. The inevitable eyewitness statements claim that Russia targeted civilian areas utterly free of ISIS operatives. These statements are already rendered questionable by the evidence I have submitted above.
When we watch the videos, particularly the longer Live Leak version, it is hard to detect the women and children that are being described. The majority of protagonists appear to be male and of fighting age. There is no evidence of “civilian” life among the deserted buildings, the only movement is of males, some on foot, some on scooters and presumably some taking the time to film events even as the bombs are falling. Not the actions of terrified, innocent civilians.
There is one other video that does show about 2 seconds of a young boy crying and obviously injured. However this video must be questioned as to its authenticity as the claims are that the initial shot of planes overhead is not even of Russian planes. The quality of the video is poor and apart from the footage of the one child, again demonstrates that the majority of people involved are men of fighting age in a deserted built up area to the north of Homs.
In this disgusting display of blatant propaganda calling for the long sought after no fly zone, Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of the activist web portal, Avaaz.org, makes this extraordinary statement:
“Russia says it’s bombing ISIS, but eyewitnesses say their brutal attacks targeted areas way outside of ISIS control. This will only sow instability and radicalisation and should be an urgent wake-up call to the US and its allies to enforce a targeted no-fly zone to save lives, counter ISIS and alleviate the refugee crisis. Syrians civilians need protection now, not further attacks from Russian bombs.”
Speaking to one Damascus resident this morning, I asked for their opinion on this statement. His reply was simple, “I am just relieved that the Russian Air Force is in action”. The hypocrisy of this statement from Ruby-Sachs perfectly mirrors the hypocrisy of Congress, Obama’s Teflon speech at the UNGA, Pentagon’s barefaced obscurantism over the US role in creating exactly this instability and radicalisation in Syria and bringing misery, terror and bloodshed to the people of Syria with the sole aim of securing their interests in the region [and those of their staunchest partner in crimes against Humanity, Israel]
If we wish to speak of real civilian casualties, then perhaps we should turn the spotlight on the pre- existing Coalition bombing campaign. The civilian death rates from these strikes is rarely discussed and often concealed by the Pentagon and US/European associated analysts like the British-led ‘humanitarian’ organisation – the Syria Observatory for Human Right (SOHR).
Where for example was the Avaaz petition calling for a No Fly Zone when the coalition air strikes resulted in a multitude of non-combatant deaths including children? This report from Airwars reveals the disturbing numbers:
“Syria has also seen a number of troubling mass casualty events attributed to Coalition actions. On the first night of bombing on September 23rd 2014, US aircraft killed as many as 15 civilians in the village of Kafar Daryan. On December 28th at least 58 civilians reportedly died when the Coalition struck a temporary Daesh prison at al Bab (see report). And on April 30th 2015, 64 civilians died in a likely Coalition airstrike at Ber Mahli. In these three incidents alone, 106 non-combatant victims have so far been publicly named – 38 of them children. It remains unclear whether any of these events have been investigated by the Coalition.”
Avaaz did actually promote a petition for a No-Fly Zone back in March 2015 – a PR campaign which just happen to align perfectly with Washington plans for a No-Fly Zone for the purpose of dominating the skies over Syria in the same way it did in the NATO’s intentional destruction of the nation-state of Libya.
In order to spare more innocent lives and preserve the secular nation-state of Syria, its citizens will need to a spanner placed in the spokes of this trendy ‘change’ propaganda vehicle that rides roughshod over their genuine needs with devastating consequences. Those needs are simple: stop the lying, stop fabricating and stop creating, funding, arming and incubating the terrorist cancer in Syria.
The White Helmet element
Now we come to perhaps one of the most insidious and damaging elements of the propaganda machine.
In September, we first introduced readers to the humanitarian interventionist, covert intelligence program and regime change PR operation known as the White Helmets, created by the Soros partnered, Svengali of PR giants, Purpose.com. The White Helmets with the debonair, Sandhurst-educated James Bond of humanitarianism at its helm, James Le Mesurier, a high-level British mercenary commander and trainer whose CV reads like a NATO itinerary, and whose high-level connections delve deep into the Empire’s underworld of international subterfuge, media manipulation and strategy cultivation.
The first slick photo campaign was hot off the press almost immediately after the first Russian air strikes in the Homs region:
Unfortunately for them, perhaps White Helmets are exhausting their supply of heart string tugging images as their twitter campaign almost immediately came under attack by those who are waking up to this cynical propagandization of human misery.
See this Tweet here.
This was incredible sloppy work by this western-backed propaganda outfit. The following is a quote from Sott.net:
“The White Helmets in their haste to point the finger of blame at Moscow, managed to tweet about Russia’s air strikes several hours before the Russian Parliament actually authorized the use of the Air Force in Syria.”
This image was also picked up and run with by RT who accurately pinpointed the deep-rooted deceit that lies at the heart of the majority of White Helmet publicity campaigns. The flurry of activity on the White Helmets Twitter page must have taken, even them, by surprise.
The result was a series of fake and fraudulent Tweets churned-out by the White Helmets, like this Tweet:
For so long they have enjoyed the fruits of their marketing campaign depicting them as selfless heroes, saviours of humanity, impartial protectors of kittens and Syrians in equal measure. Their self-styled image is that of unarmed, neutral, demi-saints climbing the “Mount Everest of war zones”. Unfortunately so many of their masks have slipped that they can no longer bask in their Purpose reflected glory.
Yesterday like HRW before them they were exposed to be the fabricators and deceivers they really are. Anyone can make a mistake I hear you say, yes sure, one mistake is acceptable, 2 is questionable but a consistent conveyor belt of misleading, perception altering, “nudging” images ceases to be innocent and enters the realm of manipulation on a terrifying scale with horrifying ramifications for the people of Syria who so far, have resisted their country being plunged into the same abyss as Libya or Iraq.
Just one other example of the White Helmets duplicitous image use:
Another image was brought to my attention this morning that further shatters the high-gloss White Helmet image. Whilst it is now well-known that far from being neutral, the White Helmets are in fact embedded with Jabhat al Nusra aka Al Nusra Front [the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda], it is perhaps not so well-known that their southern Damascus depot is situated at the heart of ISIS held territory, to the south of the notorious Palestinian Yarmouk Refugee Camp. This image shows their insignia and emblem clearly on the wall and gates behind the selfie-taking ISIS mercenary in the foreground.
It is becoming harder and harder for White Helmets to maintain their veneer of impartiality, a fact that is borne out quite effectively by the fact that the majority of Syrians in government held areas have never heard of them, even unbiased civilians in Aleppo have not come across them. Their association is exclusively with the extremist elements of the Syrian opposition. Their purpose is to facilitate calls for a No Fly Zone, cue Avaaz, and destabilize the region in the manner demanded by their masters in the US, UK and Syrian National Council.
These same agents of change can also be seen organising various NGO-affiliated live events in both Europe and the US, in order to drum-up political support and cash for the western-backed regime change project. This aspect of the campaign is detailed here in the article by Tim Hirschel-Burns, entitled, Developing Change A blog on development, activism, political advocacy, and NGOs.
We can safely conclude that the US, Israel and their allies are furious that they have been out-manoeuvred and outsmarted by Russia and Syria, despite billions of dollars and countless man hours that have already spent by the US, UK and the NATO aligned allies – all the while in open violation of numerous international law and “norms”. The West’s initial No Fly Zone plans in Syria have been consistently thwarted and derailed. Russia has effectively demanded a No Fly Zone for the US-led coalition – which is the ultimate insult to US hegemony and self-proclaimed world police status. Russia, unlike the US, is targeting ISIS in all its distorted guises and nomenclature. It’s expected that Russian airstrikes will be more accurate and efficient than the US-led coalition for the simple fact that their targeting is based on actual ground intelligence from the Syrian Arab Army.
And yes Mr Defence Secretary, Russia is bombing US supported “rebels” in Syria for the very simple reason that, in one way or another, ever since Washington DC had first started down the blood strewn road of regime change, the US has either equipped or funded every single extremist faction in Syria.
If we lived in a just world, we would see Avaaz and their ilk clamouring for an end to interventionism and demanding diplomatic solutions to support internal, sovereign nation, peace processes [as in fact Russia has unwaveringly called for in Syria]. However, we do not live in a world based upon a universal understanding of justice, we live in a world governed by the powerful and the greedy, devoid of compassion, intent only on their geopolitical prowess and humanity-exempt colonialism.
For the sake of the Syrian people and all other nations being crushed by this well used, well-oiled propaganda machine we must question, we must demand answers, and we must wake up to our responsibility to reject calls for the destruction of nations and peoples who ask only for their basic human right to determine their own futures.
Avaaz, HRW, White Helmets and their associates have no place in that brave new world.
Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog Will The Fall.
‘White Helmets': New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists, Disguised as ‘Humanitarians’ in Syria