10 Massive Fake News Stories Western Media Has Been Feeding You On Aleppo

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has secured control of Aleppo city after more than 4 years of fighting in what is Syria’s most strategically important city, second to the capital Damascus. Western media has chosen to explain this victory to the world as bad news for the interests of peace and humanity in Syria, claiming that thousands of civilians will now die from government retaliation.

The reason the battle for Aleppo is so significant in the Syrian proxy war is because of its strategic importance to the country of Syria as a whole. Controlling Aleppo would give opposition groups leverage in a situation where Syria is broken into pieces. It is also part of the geopolitical concerns over competing natural gas pipelines which would be built partially in Syria.

The battle for Aleppo has been described inaccurately for years and what follows is an explanation of 10 common lies or omissions which still continue today.

1. The city is still under total siege because of the Syrian Army and Russians

Aleppo is an ancient city and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, populated since at least the 3rd millennium BC. Aleppo is both a rural province and an urban city inside of it, which is about the same size as Washington D.C. by land area. Western media reports about the ongoing battle do not account for this and conveys the images that millions of people are trapped in an urban city where the Syrian Army and Russians will not stop bombing them. Aleppo had a pre-war population of over 2 million people. It is a center of commerce and trading with Turkey, as well as a conduit between the Middle East and Europe.

The battle for Aleppo has been intense and has destroyed significant parts of the city’s eastern neighborhoods. However, even at the height of the battle, western media reported claims that 250,000 people may be left in rebel-held areas and might die from starvation, water shortages, and lack of medical care. This number has been disputed and thought to be lower, however Russian officials say over 100,000 people have been escorted to safety from East Aleppo. Videos have shown thousands of people passing through corridors opened by the Syrian Army.

It is unknown how many civilians are left in the areas still under bombardment, but the scale of conflicting information is significant. There are no credible reports of how many casualtieshave been caused by bombing. The only specific number that western news has consistently reported claims 82 civilians have been executed by Syrian government forces in recent weeks, which comes from the controversial Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

BBC
It is hard to know exactly how many people are in the besieged areas, although UN envoy Staffan de Mistura put the figure at about 50,000. He said there were approximately 1,500 rebel fighters, about 30% of whom were from the jihadist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front. Other local sources say there could be as many as 100,000 people, many of them arriving from areas recently taken by the government.

Other reports claim what seems to be obvious, that East Aleppo is basically empty and most that are left are part of extremist groups or held hostage by them.

WASHINGTON POST
East Aleppo, which was under rebel control, is destroyed.

Syrian state television broadcast live footage throughout the day on Tuesday showing its reporters roaming through the ruins of the newly reconquered neighborhoods, trumpeting the government’s victory as they climbed over piles of rubble, peered into abandoned homes and sifted through the remains of rebel defenses. There was no other sign of life in the empty streets.

About half of the city was controlled by government forces prior to the major offensive to retake the city began in July. Many civilians have been killed by shelling from opposition fighters who fire randomly into these parts of the city.

Opposition fighters have contributed to the siege over the years by controlling the major highways into the city, especially the two roads leading west towards Turkey and other major cities to the southwest. The opposition-controlled these strategic highways until July 2016 when the Syrian Army was able to make enough gains on the ground to re-open the roads. Fighters used the roads to receive weapons and supplies from Turkey.

Aleppo city was the largest hub for distributing fighters, weapons, and supplies to other parts of Syria. Al Mayadeen recently reported on one of the weapons caches found in an East Aleppo basement after the neighborhood was cleared by the Syrian army. The bunker contained GRAD missiles, which are typically fired from a system mounted on a truck.

There were other military grade weapons found, with English language labels, and enough of each to mean the weapons could have only been shipped in by truck. If the opposition fighters could receive so many weapons and supplies into Aleppo from Turkey, why could the Syrian Army somehow stop critical food and medical supplies as U.S. officials claim?

2. The Syrian Army is blocking humanitarian aid to Aleppo, creating the crisis

U.S. officials blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for ordering the army to block aid delivery and remove medical supplies from shipments that do come in. They ignore any role the terrorists groups play in that, as reported in September.

TELEGRAPH
A convoy of 20 UN trucks carrying enough aid for 40,000 people is languishing at the Turkish border as diplomats try to secure agreement from both rebels and regime forces to allow the vehicles through.

“Some parties to the conflict are trying to use this for political gain,” said David Swanson, a UN spokesman. “The challenge for us is ensuring that all parties to the conflict are on the same page. If one element of the chain is not there we cannot proceed.”

The UN would not say if the hold was up was being caused by the Assad regime or its rebel opponents but at least part of the problem appeared to be inside east Aleppo itself.

Activists there said they intended to reject the UN aid in protest at the ceasefire agreement which was brokered between the US and Russia without input from the Syrian opposition.

Video from Aleppo showed a large demonstration against the UN had gathered at Castello Road, the key supply route that the aid convoy would have to travel down.

At least some of the demonstrators were waving the black flags of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), an al-Qaeda linked jihadist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.

3. The rebels in East Aleppo are ordinary Syrians who are fighting a civil war against government abuse

While it is unclear how many civilians remained in Aleppo, what is known is that most of the fighters are from the official Al Qaeda group in Syria called Al Nusra, and other groups that have formed public alliances with them. There have been dozens of groups under different names that the United States has called “moderate” opposition, however, many of them were either in alliance with or commanded by Al Nusra itself.

Colonel Steve Warren, spokesperson for the U.S. coalition against Islamic State, said “it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” in April 2016 prior to the Aleppo offensive.

In 2012, as the intensity of the war grew, thousands of foreign jihadists came to the city and helped take over neighborhoods in the east. Most of these fighters had no ties to Syria before the war and were given support and weapons by wealthy terror financiers from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Qatari foreign minister just pledged to continue sending weapons and assistance to these groups regardless of what Western allies do.

The war crimes committed and infighting with “moderates” became so bad that the U.S. government and the United Nations was forced to declare them terrorists after regional news reporting led the Washington Post to write that Al Nusra was the most effective and influential group on the battlefield. Al Nusra was then declared a terrorist organization by the U.S., other western countries and the United Nations. That was after almost a year of clandestine U.S. support as part of opposition groups.

The November 2012 article describes Al Nusra when they were still part of the popular term “Free Syrian Army” which was used by the U.S. to describe a moderate opposition who should not be bombed.

WASHINGTON POST
The Jabhat group now has somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to officials of an non-governmental organization that represents the more moderate wing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They say that the al-Qaeda affiliate now accounts for 7.5 percent to 9 percent of the Free Syrian Army’s total fighters, up sharply from an estimated 3 percent three months ago and 1 percent at the beginning of the year.

The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force. “From the reports we get from the doctors, most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line,” said a message sent today to the State Department by the moderate Free Syrian Army representatives, warning of the extremists’ rise.
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“In some areas, other extreme groups are merging with [Jabhat] al-Nusra, in others many are leaving it because they did not fulfill promises of support,” notes one report sent to the State Department.

In the chaos of the Syrian battlefield, smaller battalions drawn from neighborhoods or small towns are combining forces with larger groups to form brigades, many of them led by extremists. “This means more [mergers] of extreme groups within Jabhat al-Nusra as it becomes more and more franchised,” the report explains. “Their risk is paying off. They are on a high [rate] of growth.”

After this occurred, many groups began to merge and change their names, however, the majority of what became the Free Syrian Army has been proven to be made up of extremist groups who would otherwise be declared terrorists. The largest “moderate” groups in Aleppo, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and Nour Din al-Zinki have been prevented by the United States from being declared terrorists at the United Nations. The U.S. fought with Russia for months to keep these groups off the list of terrorist groups in Syria. This was a consistent point of failure in Syria peace negotiations. As a result, the groups continued to receive protection from America by including the groups in the Syrian ceasefire.

Ahrar al-Sham was known to consistently have over 20,000 fighters, despite frequent losses.

Jaysh al-Islam grew to 25,000 fighters by some recent estimates. Jaysh al-Islam integrated over 100 smaller groups, and led Syria’s largest remaining alliance, Fatah Halab as they renamed themselves in Aleppo. This alliance also included Ahrar al-Sham and Nour Din al-Zinki.

U.S. and Russian officials have been arguing over whether these groups should be targeted for bombing since they fight in the same areas as Al Nusra. The U.S. has claimed since February 2016 that it would persuade moderate groups to separate from Al Nusra, but it never happened despite the U.S. being in daily contact with them.

In response to this continued trend, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced Stop Arming Terrorists Act last week to ban funding of terrorists groups, whether direct or indirect.

HOUSE.GOV
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i]

“The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.

4. Rebels in East Aleppo are not terrorists. They are “moderate” and do not commit war crimes.

The most unbalanced part of Western news reporting on Aleppo is the deliberate effort to not report the war crimes committed by opposition groups, while confirming unverifiable claims about atrocities by the Syrian Army or from Russian airstrikes. Reporters have brought up this concern multiple times with U.S. officials and specifically when making the claim that Russian airstrikes hit hospitals in Syria but refusing to give evidence, twice.

In April 2016, Jaysh al-Islam admitted to using chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo. They have consistently used civilians as human shields, sometimes locking them in metal cages on the back of trucks.

The US also defended Ahrar al-Sham after they recently massacred an unknown number of people and kidnapped over 100 from the small village of Zaara in May 2016. State Department officials were confronted about specifically on May 24 with one reporter asking “Is this a yellow card? How many villages do they have to massacre before they become bad guys?” in relation to removing them from the protection of being declared a moderate group.

Ahrar al-Sham has was singled out for war crimes by Amnesty International just before the Zaara massacre. The Amnesty report also condemned the group for torture, kidnapping, and rape as well as using chemical weapons on multiple occasions.

Nour Din al-Zinki became most well known for beheading a sick young Palestinian boy on video which went viral on social media. U.S. State Department officials refused to condemn the group and still allowed them protection under Syrian ceasefire agreements.

The United Nations admitted last week that they received reports of opposition fighters shooting at civilians trying to leave East Aleppo, despite months of ignoring these claims. The U.S. State Department has also declined to admit the groups they call moderate have been involved in shooting at civilians.

INDEPENDENT
Take the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. After last week running through its usual – and perfectly understandable – fears for the civilian population of eastern Aleppo and their medical workers, and for civilians subject to government reprisals and for “hundreds of men” who may have gone missing after crossing the frontlines, the UN suddenly expressed other concerns.

“During the last two weeks, Fatah al-Sham Front [in other words, al-Qaeda] and the Abu Amara Battalion are alleged to have abducted and killed an unknown number of civilians who requested the armed groups to leave their neighbourhoods, to spare the lives of civilians…,” it stated.

“We have also received reports that between 30 November and 1 December, armed opposition groups fired on civilians attempting to leave.” Furthermore, “indiscriminate attacks” had been conducted on heavily civilian areas of government-held western as well as ‘rebel’ eastern Aleppo.

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi also confirmed that terrorists had turned state-run hospitals into command centers in a heated argument on the UK’s Channel 4 News.

The terrorists even had their own prisons and torture centers.

RUPTLY
Soldiers showed what appears to be militant flags, graffiti, and machine tools for making munitions, and even cells and alleged means for torturing captives.

SOT, Muhammad Hamud, Soldier, Syrian Arab Army (Arabic): “We released nearly 15 civilians. That was in a male prison. In Qadi Askar there was another prison which was a joint male and female prison. It was in the headquarters of the Sharia centre.”

5. People are unhappy the Syrian Army has taken over the city again

There is a reason the leader of the Syrian Kurds said it “would be a disaster for everyone” if the Assad government were to fall to the extremist opposition. The alternative to Aleppo city being controlled by Al Nusra, or worse, extremists could fight for control of it and further divide the region.

Western news reports described the victory in different degrees of terror, saying the people of the city were in shock at the army’s victory, ignoring the thousands of people celebrating in Aleppo areas controlled by the government. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby made the most controversial of the statements saying that he had not seen “any dancing in the streets” as celebrations were ongoing.

“I’ve been many times to Homs, to Maaloula, to Latakia and Tartus [in Syria] and again, Aleppo, four times. And people’s support of their government is absolutely true. Whatever you hear in the corporate media is completely opposite,” Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett described at a United Nations press event.

“And, on that note, what you hear in the corporate media, and I will name them – BBC, Guardian, the New York Times etc. – on Aleppo is also the opposite of reality,” she added.

6. Desperate pleas for help on social media by local Syrians show just how bad the situation is in East Aleppo

Western news media marketed a coordinated campaign of videos claiming to be average Syrian citizens pleading for international action to intervene in the Syrian war as the battle of Aleppo came to an end. A combination of children, social media activists and claimed independent journalists have been featured as genuine accounts from East Aleppo, however, these transmissions have been questioned.

THE FREE THOUGHT PROJECT
But there is one major problem with these well-articulated video pleas: these aren’t simple civilians of Aleppo, but bloggers and filmmakers – who have played active roles in supporting the regime change operation – who are now magically being given prime time slots for worldwide TV coverage. Interestingly, Aleppo has no cell service or electricity, so how these “civilian” videos are being recorded/disseminated is also an open question, which implies less than organic means.

According to Anissa Naouai, host of RT’s ‘In the Now’, a quick search of the Internet reveals the identities of these “civilians.”

A 7-year-old girl named Bana Alabed has become a known Twitter personality during recent months for her videos which are said to be recorded in Aleppo. Confirmed Syrian activist Maytham Al Ashkar contacted the account for Bana on November 27, offering to evacuate her family from eastern Aleppo. According to screenshots of conversations, someone who identified herself as Bana’s mother responded about a month later. The responses received led him to believe the account was fake and being operated by someone who preferred speaking in English instead of Arabic.

SPUTNIK
Bana’s account, designated by Twitter as “verified”, was set up three months ago, and has since gathered over 310,000 followers. The tweets, written by both Bana and her mother, Fatemah, who says she taught her daughter to speak English, depict life under siege in east Aleppo.

Many have called the authenticity of the account into question, pointing to videos where Bana appears to be reading from a prompt. It is also unclear whether Bana’s posts are genuine, since any user, anywhere in the world can post from the account, as long as they have the password.

Pro-government activist Maytham Al Ashkar is originally from Al-Zahraa in northern Syria, currently in Beirut, but often travelling to Damascus and Aleppo. He offered to help evacuate Bana and her family, contacting Bana’s Twitter account on November 27.

“This person was contacted by Bana, who told him she wanted my offer. Once he got my approval, Bana (the account) contacted me directly,” Maytham explains.

“When I got contacted by Bana’s account, I started to chat in Arabic since we are all Syrians and Arabic is our mother tongue. However, it was obvious that the person behind the account preferred English as a language of communication.”

Another problem has been the spread of false images represented as civilian casualties in Aleppo. One fake image of Aleppo violence was actually a screenshot from a 2014 music video.

7. The Syrian Army is now butchering people, executing civilians in the streets

If United States officials are watching the battle of Aleppo so closely, why has it not released any evidence of civilian casualties being caused by Syrian and Russian airstrikes? No satellite imagery, no pictures or video of large-scale casualties, no documentation of the alleged hundreds of bodies in the streets as claimed by news media like the New York Times. In the same article, the New York Times was forced to show pictures of the thousands of civilians being escorted to safety by the Syrian Army. Many pictures showed soldiers helping civilians, even carrying them when needed.

There have been genuine images from hospitals showing innocent civilians wounded in the fighting or people rescued from the rubble of buildings, but where are the images showing the mass casualty events described?

BBC
Syrian pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo have been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says. The UN’s human rights office said streets were full of bodies.

Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency cited a doctor as saying a building housing as many as 100 unaccompanied children was under heavy attack.

As noted earlier, the only consistent report of civilian deaths last week was the claim that 82 people were executed by Syrian government forces. The claim was reported as verified fact by most of Western news media, including ReutersBBCNew York Times.

The common source for these claims is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which sounds like an independent and official source, but is an unaccountable organization made up of sources on the ground who are kept private.

NEW YORK TIMES
Military analysts in Washington follow its body counts of Syrian and rebel soldiers to gauge the course of the war. The United Nations and human rights organizations scour its descriptions of civilian killings for evidence in possible war crimes trials. Major news organizations, including this one, cite its casualty figures.

Yet, despite its central role in the savage civil war, the grandly named Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is virtually a one-man band. Its founder, Rami Abdul Rahman, 42, who fled Syria 13 years ago, operates out of a semidetached red-brick house on an ordinary residential street in this drab industrial city [Coventry, England].

All sides in the conflict accuse him of bias, and even he acknowledges that the truth can be elusive on Syria’s tangled and bitter battlefields. That, he says, is what prompts him to keep a tight leash on his operation.

He does not work alone. Four men inside Syria help to report and collate information from more than 230 activists on the ground, a network rooted in Mr. Abdul Rahman’s youth, when he organized clandestine political protests. But he signs off on every important update. A fifth man translates the Arabic updates into English for the organization’s Facebook page.

8. The Syrian Army prevents civilians from leaving

It is reported that many civilians feared leaving East Aleppo for government-controlled areas because they might be tortured or killed. These reports cannot be verified and will not be trivialized here, however Russian officials noted that more than 100,000 civilians had been evacuated since operations began in November.

Wednesday, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a statement confirming it received reports that the opposition was preventing civilians from leaving, holding them hostage as human shields.

UNITED NATIONS
Alongside a pattern of indiscriminate attacks, the Commission has further received allegations of opposition groups, including the terrorist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Ahrar al-Sham preventing civilians from leaving as well as opposition fighters embedding themselves within the civilian population, thus heightening the risk to civilians of being killed or injured.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been seen on video leaving the areas of battle, being received by Syrian and Russian soldiers. Russia announced it distributed 35 tons of humanitarian aid this week in eastern Aleppo to civilians in need.

‘Moderate Rebels’ Slaughter Syrian Civilian Protesters Trying to Escape East Aleppo

For the last 6 months, 21st Century Wire, along with many other alternative news outlets, have been reporting how the US Coalition-backed ‘moderate rebels’ (comprised of listed international terrorist groups including al Nusra/al Qaeda) have been using Syrian civilians a human shields in rebel-held areas like East Aleppo. 

It is a dark reality for the residents of East Aleppo, now in its fourth year of terrorist occupation – militants are tightened their control over public spaces and mosques – for fear of continued civilian protests. Last night saw the unthinkable, as hundreds of civilians took to the streets to protest against the ‘rebel’ occupation – with 17 residents gunned-down and killed and dozens of others reported wounded – as ‘moderate’ terrorists (and Washington) become ever more paranoid about losing control…

RT Reports:

At least 17 people were killed by heavy gunfire and about a dozen more were rounded up and executed after hundreds of civilians trying to leave eastern Aleppo protested against the rebel blockade of exit routes, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Some 500 civilians took part in several protests in the rebel-occupied eastern part of Aleppo on Thursday, and at least 200 of them were trying to reach the Syrian government-controlled area at the time they were violently dispersed with live fire, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

21WIRE global affairs writer Patrick Henningsenspoke to RT News International late last night about this brutal attack, and how it exposes the complete failure of 5 years of Obama Administration and CIA policy in Syria. More and more, the world can see that the ‘rebels’ backed by the Washington-London-Paris-GCC Axis. Watch:

watch the video

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“The militants dispersed the demonstration, shooting at the protesters from a heavy machine gun and then mined all the approaches to the checkpoint and placed snipers on the roofs of nearby houses,” Konashenkov said, as quoted by Sputnik news agency.

“Seventeen people died at the site, including two teenagers of 13 and 15 years of age, over 40 people were wounded,” he added.

Upon quelling one of the rallies, militants launched a hunt for the presumed organizers of the protests, the ministry spokesman said.

“Terrorists detained about 10 men, who they held to be ‘organizers’ of the riots, and drove them away in an unknown direction. They were shot dead the same evening,” Konashenkov said.

See full report at RT


The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes NATO’s ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters

By Vanessa Beeley

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I am a director not only of a Syrian Civil Defence Unit, but of brave human beings, volunteers who risk their lives, despite the terrorism that is invading Syria, to maintain security for Syria. I give thanks from my heart for the courage of my men who have lost their comrades in terrorist attacks but they keep working despite the risks. They are true soldiers, their equipment, and their spirit is their only weapons ~ Director of Tartous’ REAL Syria Civil Defence

Did I hear a pin drop?  The real Syria Civil Defence? Are the west’s iconized ‘White Helmets’ not the only emergency first-responders inside Syria?

For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you call 113 inside Syria.  There is no public number for the White Helmets.  Why not? Why does this multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded first repsonder ‘NGO,’ with state of the art equipment supplied by the US and the EU via Turkey, have no central number for civilians to call when the “bombs fall”?

Before we introduce the real Syria Civil Defence, who are Syria’s real ICDO certified civil fire and rescue organization, let’s first take a closer look at the imposters; terrorists in white hats, and agents of war – NATO’s pseudo ‘NGO’ construct, embedded exclusively in terrorist-held parts of Syria…

We’re told that the White Helmets routinely scale the walls of collapsed buildings and scrambling over smouldering rubble of bombed out buildings to dig a child out with their bare hands. Of course, never without a sizeable camera crew and mobile phone carrying entourage in tow.

white-helmet-camersss
Screenshot from one of the multitude of NATO’s White Helmets promotional videos, as per usual –
with fans and camera crew in attendance.

So who, and what exactly are the White Helmets?

Founded in 2013, the White Helmets, officially called the Syria Civil Defense, are often the only emergency first-responders available in rebel-held areas of Syria and claim to have saved more than 58,000 lives. ~ The Slate

netflix-still2
White Helmets ‘Team’ Photo: Screenshot from Netflix promotional documentary.


British Military officer James Le Mesurier

The western media mythology goes as follows:

They are made up of former bakers, builders, taxi drivers, students, teachers, pretty much anything apart from rescue workers,” according to the much repeated phrase used by their British ex-military, USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) trainer,James Le Mesurier who specialises in outsourcing warfare – the kind of private security operations exemplified by the likes ofBlackwater (now known as Academi) and DynCorp, and other well-known global suppliers of mercenaries and CIA outreach assassination experts.

Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible. ~ The Atlantic, 2012

White Helmets founder Le Mesurier, who graduated from Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is said to be an ‘ex’ British military intelligence officer involved in a number of other NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ theatres of war, including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, as well as postings in Lebanon and Palestine. He also boasts a series of high-profile posts at the UN, EU, and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not to mention his connections back to the infamous Blackwater (Academi).


The White Helmet network showing primary funding sources and James Le Mesurier connections back to deep state  (Image: UK Column)

The streaming giant, Netflix, recently launched the documentary meant to elevate the White Helmets to a Hollywood level of Madison Avenue-styled demagoguery. As an interesting aside: a major shareholder in Netflix just happens to be the Capital Research Global Investors who hosts a number luminaries of the military industrial complex on its books including Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

 

netflix-final
Variation on the Netflix promotional poster for the NATO White Helmet documentary.
|Poster by: Cory Morningstar of WrongKindofGreen.

Later, in Part III of this article, we will go into depth concerning the recent awards, including an objectionable nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, that have been bestowed upon this group of US, UK, EU backed fifth columnists, or as they would have you believe, “first-responders.”

With over $60 million in their back pocket courtesy of USAID, the UK Foreign Office and various EU nations like the Netherlands, this group is possibly one of the most feted and funded entities within the west’s anti-Syrian NGO complex, a pivotal part of the clandestine shadow state building enterprise inside of Syria.

Like many other ‘NGOs’, the White Helmets have been deployed by the west to derail the Syrian state, first  by undermining existing civic structures and by disseminating staged PR to facilitateregime change propaganda, through western and Gulf state media outlets. Despite the fact that they were started, and are still generously funded by NATO members states, particularly from the US and UK, the White Helmets’ official statement still claims categorically that they are somehow “fiercely independent” and “have accepted no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict“. This is both farcical and deeply misleading.

They claim they are not “tied to any political group in Syria, or anywhere else”, yet they are embedded with Al Nusra Front, ISIS and affiliated with the majority of US allied terrorist brigades infesting Syria.  In fact during my recent trip to Syria, I was once again struck by the response from the majority of Syrians when asked if they knew who the White Helmets were.  The majority had never heard of them, others who follow western media noted that they are a “NATO construct being used to infiltrate Syria as a major player in the terrorist support network.”

For further details on the White Helmets and their role in supporting US & NATO state-sponsored terrorism in Syria please refer to the compilation of articles contained in the 21WIRE article: WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence

Let us now focus upon the very real heroes inside Syria, the real Syria Civil Defence that have been usurped by the NATO mountebank White Helmets who also call themselves the “Syria Civil Defence” – a mere simulacra of the REAL Syria Civil Defence who have been saving lives in Syria, and further afield for decades.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence was established as an organisation, in 1953, some 63 years before the White Helmets were a glimmer in the eyes of CIA and MI6 operatives.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence is a founding member of the ICDO (International Civil Defence Organisation). Other ICDO partners include the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Secretarian of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations of Geneva (UNOG), Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

To our knowledge and according to the Head Quarters of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Damascus, the White Helmets are NOT a member of the ICDO. The REAL Syria White Helmets have received awards for their participation in the training of other member states in USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and for their contributions to the Civil Defence community, prior to the NATO dirty war on Syria that began in earnest, in 2011.

Later in Part II, we will go into further detail regarding this affiliation with the ICDO and the role the REAL Syria Civil Defence has played in global civil defence developments for the last 63 years – which is tremendous, and something the White Helmets could never lay claim to in reality, despite all the superficial accolades being rained down upon them by the US and NATO fueled organisations, foundations and cosmetic award bodies.

icdo-members
This is an introduction to the unsung heroes who, unlike the counterfeit White Helmet, do truly risk their lives every day, working not only in
government controlled areas, but forging deep into terrorist strongholds to rescue civilians living under the brutal US-NATO-backed terrorist siege and occupation that engulfs all of Syria.

When Syrian civilians are at risk, injured, or buried under the rubble of homes, schools and hospitals destroyed by terrorist mortar showers, it’s not Le Mesurier’s White Helmets who rush to their aid – it’s the REAL Syria Civil Defence, a real civic organization who, up until the publication of this article, have never been mentioned by any western media outlets.

the-real-syria-civil-defence
The REAL Syria Civil Defence, stationed in Syrian government held West Aleppo
(Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The REAL Syria Civil Defence: Aleppo

My first stop on my investigation to discover the REAL Syria Civil Defence units in as many Syrian governorates as I could during my time in Syria, was Aleppo. I focused on those units that were in closest proximity to the terrorist held areas of Syria, particularly, Aleppo and Idlib. Damascus which is the home and headquarters of the REAL Syrian Civil Defence was my last port of call, and is surrounded on two sides by Jaish Al Islam, another US-NATO protected terrorist clique.

Because of the the encroachment of the US Coalition terrorist entities, Aleppo city has been carved into two cities with the major occupier of the eastern portion being the universally feared Al Nusra Front. Spurious attempts by the US to rebrand this organisation as a lesser evil in an attempt to separate them from their Al Qaeda affiliation, have failed. People in Syria from all walks of life refuse to accept any differentiation between the titles accorded the terrorist brigades, insisting there is no difference in the way they all kill, maim, torture, rape, behead and destroy at the behest of their paymasters and controllers in the US, NATO states, Turkey, Gulf States and yes, Israel.

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Decimated areas of Sheikh Maqsoud, the northernmost, Kurdish held,
entry point into the government held West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 14, 2016)

For further information about the real situation in Aleppo, my journey to this terrorist besieged city and the debunking of the fictional US-NATO narrative, please read Part I of my article published at Mint Press: Journey to Aleppo: Exposing the Truth Buried under NATO Propaganda.

On the 15th of August, I entered the work yard of Aleppo’s REAL Syria Civil Defence and was greeted by an exhausted team of about fifteen crew-members.  That morning from 11am until around 3 pm, just before our visit, they had been fighting a fire in a cement and plastics factory which had been ignited by Al Nusra Front mortar fire.

They were understandably wary, but they still gathered around us (my colleague and independent journalist, Eva Bartlett and our translator) in the searing arid summer heat. Over the course of this 5 years and 6 months of this dirty war against Syria, not one western media journalist had ever asked to speak to them.

This extraordinary omission and failure to follow the most rudimentary journalist text book rules by the western media is staggering, but hardly surprising considering the level of spin and propaganda employed daily by the likes of the BBC, CNN, FOX News, The Guardian, New York Times, and Washington Post. Sadly, western media lap dogs end up simply wagging their tails to their masters voice and turning somersaults with the truth to merit reward.

Unfortunately for the Syrian people, western pundits have only reported on crucial and pivotal events in the war on Syria based largely on ‘evidence’ supplied by the US-UK-NATO construct, the White Helmets, who are ensconsed only in Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda and ISIS held areas.

As a result of western media outlets not bothering to make contact with the volunteer Syrians in the REAL Syria Civil Defence, western audiences never received a balanced view of the situation. Instead, western media only disseminates what amounts to a biased, one-sided view which mirrors anti-Syrian state and Syrian Arab Army rhetoric issued by the US State Dept and British Foreign Office.

I explained in detail, why I had come to talk with them, that my objective was to find out who were the real heroes inside Syria working tirelessly for their people who are being collectively punished by the baseless US-EU sanctions that impact hardest upon the Syrian people.

Aleppo’s REAL Syria Civil Defence informed us there are 150 volunteers working across all units in Aleppo, the headquarters are in the Hamadaniya area which is one of the most severely targeted civilian areas, by Al Nusra Front Hell Cannon mortar fire and explosive bullets. The volunteers ages range between 25-45 years old, and the minimum age for training is 18.

All members of the crew were genuine volunteers. They spoke proudly of the intensive training process they undergo before they can be accepted into the unit. They are fully trained in urban search and rescue techniques (USAR).  They are also fully qualified paramedics.

A glance around their yard revealed that their equipment is tired and worn. The fire trucks were gleaming in the sun but showed signs of heavy use. Tattered jackets hung from the fenders and wing mirrors of the trucks and a Syrian flag had been draped across the radiator of one truck, perhaps in honour of our visit.

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West Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence unit (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

I was told immediately, that I would not be able to photograph the crew themselves or to use their names. Aleppo is a city under siege, not by “Assad and his army“, as the western media would have you believe, but by an assortment of up to 22 different terror brigades many of whom are armed, funded, and trained by the US, UK, France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to name only a few of the west’s ‘coalition.’ The REAL Syria Civil Defence crew-members are under constant threat of being targeted by any one of these terrorist brigades – including the White Helmets, as they later explained to us.

Chemical Attacks

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MODERATE WEAPONS: ‘Rebel’ Terrorists in East Aleppo shell civilians indiscriminately with their crude munitions, and then blame it on “The Regime” via misleading social media imagery. 

The crew told us about a call out they had responded to on the 2nd August. There had been a terrorist Hell Cannon attack on the Old City of Aleppo, which lies right on the border with the Al Nusra front lines and is a regular target for their indiscriminate attacks. Terrorist Hell Cannons use an assortment of containers – gas canisters, water heater tanks packed full of explosives, glass, metal and any other limb-shredding materials.

As the crew entered the area, they said there was a pungent smell in the air that suggested the use of a toxic gas by Nusra Front, possibly chlorine. The concentrations were so high that they immediately experienced breathing difficulties and their flimsy paper oxygen masks were not sufficient to prevent the devastating effects of inhalation.

One of the crew, 36 year old Mohammed Ahmed Eibbish, succumbed to the fumes and eventually died while trying to rescue one of the 25 affected civilians. Both civilians and crew suffered with dizziness, nausea, burns on their body, spasms and respiratory difficulties. Four civilians died that day too, all women. This attack and many others like it, are being intentionally ignored by the western media agencies, politicians and partisan UN officials, desperate to attribute any such attacks to the Syrian government and its national army.

A very salient fact so often mislaid in the stampede to produce lies, is that the only chemical factory in Aleppo (producing chlorine among other substances) was actually captured by the Al Nusra Front coalition in 2012. It is located about 10km east of Aleppo’s airport on the road towards Raqqa.

The chemicals factory was taken over by Nusra Front and allies three years ago, they emptied everything out of it including potential ingredients for use in chemical weapon attacks. Part of the facility was shipped to Iraq.  They destroyed the factory completely. ~ Voice from Aleppo

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Painful skin blisters caused by an ISIS chemical weapon attack in Northern Aleppo 17/9/2016 (Photo: Press TV article)

The crew told us that the worst injuries they have ever witnessed, are children who have been hit by the terrorist Hell Cannon mortars. Their little bodies are eviscerated and literally torn apart. At least 54 children had been killed and many others maimed by the Hell Cannon attacks in a two-week period alone, between the July 31st and August 14th. These figures were provided by the Aleppo Medical Association during our time in West Aleppo. In total, 143 civilians, 23 women, 54 children and 66 men, were killed by US-backed “rebels” occupying East Aleppo.

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Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence Fire Engine parked in their yard (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The West Aleppo crew is forced to attend missions without the standard issue equipment and to deal with situations like chemical weapons attacks with only the ineffectual paper breathing masks.  This is another result of the EU-US sanctions being enforced against Syria, and effectively against the Syrian people. The REAL Syria Civil Defence is unable to replace equipment or replenish supplies, unlike the NATO White Helmets who enjoy an endless stream of kit and replacement materials via the Turkey supply chain that has remained unbroken for much of the four years that Aleppo has been under terrorist siege.

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US EQUIPPED: White Helmets showing off their brand new equipment in Idlib (on borders with Turkey) supplied by US Equipment company, Bobcat (Photo: screenshot from White Helmet promotional video)

The White Helmets: Criminals, Kidnappers and Killers

When we got on to the subject of NATO’s White Helmets, the West Aleppo REAL Syrian Civil Defence crew became animated.  One of them, stepped forward and began to talk excitedly to our translator. He had been stationed in East Aleppo at a REAL Syrian Civil Defence unit based in an area that has since been overrun by Al Nusra Front and their associate terrorist gangs.

Again, we are unable, as we have said, to provide names of the men we spoke with. They are prime targets for the Al Nusra Front and company in East Aleppo. This crew member, lets call him ‘Khaled,’ described what happened when the terrorists (western media still call them “opposition” or “moderate rebels”) started to invade East Aleppo in 2012.

They came in and they drove us out of our homes and they came to the Syria Civil Defence yard and they killed some of my comrades, they kidnapped others.  They wanted to force me to work with them.  I escaped at night.  I was forced to leave my teenage sons behind. They burned my house to the ground and they put my name on all the terrorist checkpoints so if I go back, they will kill me.

Khaled went on to explain how those men who later became the White Helmets were among this first wave of terrorists:

They are terrorists, not rescuers.  They stole our ambulances and three of our fire engines. They don’t do any rescue work.  They drive round with guns in the back of their car like any other terrorist.  Some are from East Aleppo, some are from Syria but not from Aleppo and some are even coming in from abroad.

Granted, this might come as a shock to anyone who has already bought into the public relations image of the group that’s already been developed over three years by various agencies in New York, Washington DC and London, but these are the real accounts regarding what one might say is the true unmasked nature of the west’s White Helmets.

At this point other crew members interjected and told me that they had watched the White Helmet “rescue” videos.

They are fake.  They don’t carry out any correct procedures, either as paramedics or as search and rescue experts.

They described how the White Helmets use a heavy-duty power drill to dig down for civilians buried under the rubble of homes allegedly targeted by “Syrian or Russian airstrikes.”

It’s the wrong equipment to use.  It is not sensitive enough and because it vibrates powerfully,  it can displace the rubble which is dangerous if anyone is genuinely buried beneath it.

They went on to describe other aspects of the White Helmet videos that they believe contravene all standard procedures that are followed by genuine search and rescue experts, paramedics and first responders.

In the following very recent video made by a White Helmet camera crew, men pretending to be genuine rescuers attack an area of rubble where they seem to know where a body buried. They start with a mint condition JCB digger, which attacks the heap of rubble with gusto.  Then, alarmingly, they begin to pound the rubble with a heavy duty mallet without employing any devices to actually determine where the body is located, under the impenetrable concrete blocks. Finally, the JCB digger returns to the mound of rubble and enters the teeth of its bucket into the rubble without any hesitation, surely not standard procedure if there is a chance of a body being under the debris.

Miraculously, as with all White Helmet videos, they seem to find exactly where the bodies are, despite having displaced the majority of the rubble in the process. They also, miraculously, avoided staving in the first body’s head with the mallet. There is no intention to downplay or belittle the deaths that have obviously occurred but we do ask the questions:

1.  How did the White Helmets know the bodies would be exactly where they found them?

2.  Where is this rescue being filmed?

3.  “Activists”, “citizen journalists”, the White Helmets and western media would have us believe that East Aleppo is under almost constant Russian or Syrian aerial attack yet the White Helmets make, on average, 4 or 5 films per day and we never see or hear any sign of an attack, only the “aftermath”. 

4. Where do these bodies come from? Are they victims of air strikes as we are told by these NATO funded “activists” and “first responders” or are they taken from among the thousands of “disappeared” that have been kidnapped by Nusra Front and other terrorist gangs in East Aleppo? Are they gruesome props being used inhumanely, to polish the image of this faux NGO embedded in East Aleppo, HQ for Al Nusra Front.

I would not ask these questions without good cause and that cause was given to me by the crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence, in West Aleppo, some of whom were driven from their homes in East Aleppo and whose families, left behind, remain under threat, while they are unable to return, for fear of being assassinated by the Al Nusra terrorists and their associates the White Helmets.

A further cause for this question is the previous proven use of props and crisis actors by the BBC (just one example) in one of their most dubious reports on Syria, Panorama’s piece entitled,“Saving Syria’s Children”.  Robert Stuart’s quite brilliant investigation into this chilling charade revealed some very disturbing evidence of the lengths to which, the mainstream media are prepared to go, to produce the propaganda required to execute yet another war on false pretenses. Propaganda that best serves the NATO and US intelligence agencies who continue toiling away to facilitate regime change and a ‘No Fly Zone.’

“Why do you do it?” I asked an obvious question of the REAL Syria Civil Defence, essentially, volunteers who survive on a paltry government salary or public donations, who work with dilapidated equipment, under terrorist, indiscriminate, shell, mortar and explosive bullet fire, and with no recognition for the heroic work they do from western media or ‘humanitarian’ NGOs.

It is humanitarian work for our country. We were there in the good times, and we are here when the times are bad and we are needed most. It’s our duty

No emotive, Manhattan based PR agency #hashtag headlines for these firefighters and life savers. Instead, we get simple words to convey a simple message.  They told me they often work 24 hour shifts, without sleep. One man sat on the wall behind me told me he had broken both legs falling from a collapsing building after terrorists had shelled the area. Another showed me that he had lost an eye in a Hell Cannon mortar attack. In the background, their uniforms billowed on the washing line ready for the next shout.

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The badge of honour, the REAL Syria Civil Defence badge sewn on to the sleeves of the uniforms in West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

My final question to the REAL Syria Civil Defence in West Aleppo,  was to ask them for their message to the outside world.  The world that is unaware they even exist, many of whom are blinded by the propaganda glare that surrounds the White Helmet media circus. They responded thus:

1. Please lift the sanctions so we can keep working and saving lives.

2. Stop the terrorists from entering Syria, and stop funding and arming them.

3. If terrorists keep entering Syria, eventually it will affect the world, not just Syria. There has been enough bloodshed. It needs to stop now.

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The staple equipment of fire crews and first responders. Visit to the West Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence
(Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The REAL Aleppo Medical Association

One of the other meetings we had during our time in Aleppo, was with the Aleppo Medical Association.  We met with the Director, Dr Zahar Buttal and Dr Bassem Hayak, who is in charge of the medical teams assessing refugees from East Aleppo who fled to West Aleppo via the Russian and Syrian state humanitarian corridors, created on the 29th July, which have allowed over 2000 people to escape the terrorist strongholds to safety, food and medical care in government-protected West Aleppo. These figures were given to us by the Aleppo Medical Association on the 15th August 2016.

One of the questions I asked Dr Hayak, who spoke good English, was what he knew of the White Helmets.  His response was concise and without preamble.  His family is still in East Aleppo and although he has not been able to get back into East Aleppo for the last year, his family have told him that the White Helmets are not known in East Aleppo.  I asked again to be sure, and was told again, people, civilians do not know of the White Helmets in East Aleppo. Any actual first response work is carried out by foreign workers from various countries, Pakistan and the Gulf region among them. These foreigners work with Syrian people who are not properly trained in first response. They might only receive 2 or 3 months training before being allowed to work.

Dr Hayak says, “Even with our relationship with WHO (World Health Organisation) and the UN, we still didn’t hear about the White Helmets.”

Are the White Helmets, NATO ghosts?

Dr Hayak also states quite clearly, he has a cousin, working as a surgeon in East Aleppo. ISIS and other terrorist factions have forced her to stay in East Aleppo by threatening to kill her family, should she leave for West Aleppo.

Dr Hayak also said that the majority of civilians in East Aleppo are “hostages”of the NATO/US allied terrorists.

In East Aleppo, civilians living under Al Nusra Front occupation, do not know the White Helmets. Watch:

 

It is not unreasonable to speculate that the White Helmets are not first responders at all, except when required to don the white hats for a staged photo or promotional video, or to produce western news propaganda for the likes of CNN or the BBC, courtesy of their ever-present film and media crew.

It is not unreasonable, based upon the statements given by eminent members of the Aleppo medical fraternity and crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Aleppo, to draw the conclusion that the White Helmets are nothing more than common terrorists, being paid to present themselves as respectable first responders when the need arises for “reports from inside Aleppo” or elsewhere in Syria.

Later, in Part II of this story, we will travel to the northwest Syria regions ofLattakia and Tartous and speak to REAL Syria Civil Defence units there, before finally visiting the Syria Civil Defence Headquarters in Damascus, right in the heart of Jaish Al Islam, terrorist strongholds in Jobar and the surrounding suburbs of Damascus.

Every one of these units has a tale to tell about NATO’s White Helmets and each tale is a further nail in the coffin of the west’s multi-million dollar White Helmet mythology – nails which can’t be extracted by any number of NATO sponsored prizes, awards or accolades.

In the end, the REAL Syria Civil Defence will be recognised as extraordinary “ordinary” human beings who deserve the title “Hero” and whose service to their people and their country will be applauded by all those who are not taken in by the by the obscene parody of terrorists dressed-up as saviours and saints.

The REAL “saints” do indeed come marching in….

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence, Lattakia, next stop on the tour of the true heroes inside Syria. Photo: Lattakia Fire Brigade FB page

Al-Jaafari: Al Saud regime is the last one who has right to talk about human rights

Read the Original Report

Syria’s Permanent Representative at the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said that submitting a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly by the Saudi delegation which criticizes what it called “the state of human rights in Syria” is an odd paradox as Al Saud regime is the last one who has the right to talk about human rights at the UN in light of its record of legal and human underdevelopment towards its citizens and foreign visitors.

In a statement at a UN General Assembly session held on Tuesday n to discuss the aforementioned report in front of the 3rd committee on human rights, al-Jaafari wondered if the Saudi regime would be ready to apply the items it included in the draft resolution on its own constant violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Syria’s Representative said that the involvement of Al Saud and Qatar’s Al Thani in terrorism and their sponsorship for it is known to all, as evidence by Wikileaks leaks and confessions by US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and VP Joe Biden.

He also pointed out to the report by Toyota that was issued based on a request by Syria and Russia who provided the company with thousands of photos of the cars supplied to ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and the report showed that Toyota sold 60,000 4WD cars to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Emirates, and Jordan, and these cars ended up in the possession of ISIS.

Al-Jaafari noted that Saudi terrorism isn’t new in the region and the world, as its fingerprints are still visible in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Iraq, Libya, Chechnya, New York, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Paris, Nice, Boston, Belgium, Lebanon, and even the southern and eastern parts of Saudi Arabia, adding that US President-elect Donald Trump addressed Al Saud and told them that the Wahabi groups they created around the world to murder and destroy will not protect them; rather they will turn on them and devour them.

He said that the submitted report shows the hysteria and political impotence of Al Saud and its partners in the face of the victories achieved by the Syrian Army and its allies against the Saudi-Qatari terrorism, wondering how Saudi Arabia, a primitive semi-state that isn’t event part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights can submit a draft resolution against Syria regarding human rights, adding that after such a step it’s not unlikely that ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra or Boko Haram will chair the UN peacekeeping office next year.\

Syria’s Representative pointed out to the political extortion and mafia-like behavior of the Saudi regime when it threatened the UN Secretary-General to cut off funds to UN programs to force him to disregard its actions in Yemen and exclude them from a report on children and armed conflicts.

Al-Jaafari said that it’s shameful that the Saudi ambassador in Washington Abdullah Al Saud would liken the Saudi aggression on Yemen to a “husband beating his wife,” a statement which shows how intellectually and culturally regressive and impotent he is.

He then turned to Qatar, saying it also has no right to talk about human rights due to its sponsorship of Takfiri terrorism and its lack of constitution or elections, as Qatar’s governing body is reliant on relatives ousting each other.

Elaborating, al-Jaafari cited the incident of the weapons shipment which was being sent by Qatar from Libya to terrorists in Syria by ship via Lebanon in 2011, not to mention the support for ISIS and al-Nusra by Qatar and Israel in the occupied Syrian Golan.

Syria’s Representative said that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are partners with Turkey in sponsoring terrorism and sending tens of thousands of terrorists to Syria via the Turkish borders under the care of the Turkish authorities, which is a documented fact and not mere allegations.

He concluded by calling on member states to avoid falling into the web of the Saudi-Qatari mental abnormality and to vote against the draft resolution that would only extend the terrorist war on Syria and undermine any political solution since it would appoint terrorists as defenders of human rights in Syria.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJU9-GN-_Xc

America has prolonged the civil war, only destabilized the region

By Justin Schuster

Read the Original Story

On November 8, 2016, American voters elected Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States in a victory that casts uncertainty on the future of American foreign policy.

With two months left in Obama’s presidency, Syria Direct turned to Joshua Landis, Director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center of Middle Eastern Studies and author of the blog Syria Comment, to make sense of it all.

Here, the lightly edited conversation is the first installment in a series of reaction interviews with analysts, academics, and diplomats around the implications of a Trump presidency for US-Syria policy. Can Trump really be worse than the current administration on Syria? Will Trump hand Syria over to Putin? Does he even have that power, or is it already done? Landis, for one, offers a sharp, candid assessment of America’s unyielding and unrealistic vision in Syria and the Middle East writ large.

“President Obama and Hillary Clinton decided that Assad was going to fall and that they could carry out regime change smoothly in Syria without too much damage,” Landis tells Syria Direct’s Justin Schuster. “This was a terrible mistake.”

“Breaking down the very delicate and fragile state structures that have been created in the Middle East over the last 100 years has not done anybody any favors,” says Landis. “To just wipe them away and expect that some kind of democracy and unity are going to emerge in their place was very naïve.”

The result, says Landis, is a legacy of destruction in the region for which the United States is in part responsible.

And yet, he says, “America hasn’t taken responsibility, and it won’t take responsibility.”

Q: Donald Trump is going to be the 45th president of the United States. What is your initial reaction?

I was shocked. Personally, I don’t see a lot of good in Trump. On the other hand, I do believe that America needs to give him a honeymoon period, and I am a bit shocked at the immediate outrage of a lot of people.

Obviously, I don’t like Trump. I think he’s a narcissist and so forth, but you never know. There are a lot of Americans who are angry and feeling vulnerable, and they need a champion. He is a champion. At least they think he is. He needs to be given a chance to champion their cause.

Q: What image does a Trump presidency send to the rest of the world and, in particular, the Middle East?

I’m not sure we can use what he has said about the Middle East as a guide to what he’s going to do because when we look at the people he might appoint, many of them are people who were in favor of the invasion of Iraq. They are neocons of one kind or another, which contradicts everything that he’s said on the campaign trail. So, I’m going to make more sense of his foreign policy in the next two minutes than I think it warrants.

His initial discussion of the Middle East came about on the Libya question. He was very swift to critique Hillary Clinton’s overthrowing of Qaddafi. Basically, he said that regime change has been disastrous, and it’s caused the spread of extremism and chaos throughout the Middle East. We shouldn’t do it. This critique was not only for Libya; it was for Iraq. In a sense he was critiquing the thrust of the Republican Party’s foreign policy since George Bush: Don’t try to bring democracy to the Middle East, work with dictators, order. It’s about aman wa istiqrar [security and stability], which is the slogan of Bashar al-Assad.

Q: I want to try to make sense of the policy recommendations that Donald Trump has thrown out along the campaign trail. Let’s suppose that Mr. Trump taps you tomorrow to be his right-hand man on Syria policy. On Russia, Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised President Putin for his effectiveness in fighting the Islamic State, saying “if Russia wants to get rid of ISIS…let ’em get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?” By all indications, it seems that Mr. Trump is going to hand Syria over to Putin.

I would ask Trump: What is his objective? Is his objective to stop the killing and end the Syrian civil war or his objective to hurt the Russians and gain leverage in Syria for America? If he wants to hurt the Russians and the Iranians, if he sees them as a threat to American interests and wants to gain leverage on the Syrian battlefield, then I would say keep on sending arms and money to the rebels and encourage the Saudis and the Turks to keep funding them.

But I think that will prolong the civil war. Russia, Assad and the Iranians have a winning hand. They’re determined to create a Shiite crescent built upon Hezbollah, the Assad regime and the American-built government in Iraq. That’s what’s been emerging over the last decade. We’ve seen America try to pick it apart. There was the Israeli invasion in 2006 against Hezbollah, which failed, the efforts to destabilize Bashar in 2004, 2005 and the invasion of Iraq. America mistakenly thought this would build a more pro-America Middle East and end dictatorship and produce democracy. We’ve seen that fail miserably and there’s more dictatorship and extremism in the Middle East.

If America wanted to reverse Russian and Iranian positions, it would have to invest hundreds of billions of dollars, and I don’t think it’s going to do it. I don’t think it should prolong the Syrian civil war unless it means it. This would mean getting together an international force, occupying Syria in order to take the guns away from everybody, creating an occupation of sorts that would guarantee the safety of everybody in Syria, rebuilding the nation and staying there for 20-30 years. Then, you could possibly build another government—I don’t even know if it would be stable—but you could gamble on that.

But if you just are going to throw in more arms to the rebels—let’s say $10 billion every year—with the Saudis and Qataris, then you’re just going to prolong the civil war. You’re going to make sure that more people flee, and that’s what America has done so far. I think America has prolonged the civil war and has abetted the terrible destruction. They haven’t defeated Assad; they’ve only destabilized the region. They have permitted all of these rebel groups—who have very anti-American agendas—to spread, and we ultimately are not going to support them.

I don’t think that a political solution, the way that Washington and the Geneva Accords describe it, is realistic where you’re going to get Alawite officers sitting down with Nusra, Ahrar a-Sham and Jaish al-Islam to produce a hybrid security state. I think that’s completely pie-in-the-sky to have people who want Sharia law, and Alawite and other minority officers, sitting down together and agreeing on a form of future government in Syria. That never stood a chance.

The Assad regime is not capable of reform in a meaningful way. It’s capable of shrinking down to a small little spot or expanding over all of Syria. But it’s not capable of reforming, and I think Bashar has proven that to us. It will be the same authoritarian regime that is based on Baathist, one-party state, family and sectarian loyalties. That’s all he is capable of. Otherwise, the regime falls apart. Once you dissemble that basic formula that his father put together, authority will crumble.

If you look at the way Barzani or any of these other people have created political authority, it’s through patronage, family, and traditional loyalties. The Middle East, unfortunately, is stuck with this right now. And, here, America wants to come up with a formula for governance in the Middle East that doesn’t rely on these traditional loyalties but rather on a constitutional foundation, the rule of law and all of the other beautiful things that you’ve heard Hillary Clinton tell us about.

Q: Let’s go back to the fight against the Islamic State. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump’s position with regard to putting boots on the ground was indecipherable at best. At one point he said he would “listen to the generals,” deploying 20,000-30,000 American soldiers. He promptly walked that statement back no more than two weeks later.  Given the two ongoing campaigns against IS in Raqqa and Mosul, would you tell Mr. Trump that such a heavy investment of American blood and treasure is necessary for the fight against the Islamic State?

I would tell him: You’ve got three offers on the table to take Raqqa. You’ve got a Kurdish offer through the PYD, you’ve got a Turkish offer that brings with it the rebels and you’ve got an Assad-Russia offer. All three have offered if they can get American backing. Of course, each one comes with political complications.

America has come up with a formula. Today, the Kurds—the Syrian Democratic Forces—are the only ones ready to do anything, so we’re going use them to surround and isolate the Islamic State in Raqqa. We will not order them to take Raqqa.

The Turks were asking us for up to six months to train and equip the rebels, who are incapable of taking Raqqa right now. Turkey wants to turn this hodgepodge of rebels, who they’ve been bringing up from Idlib, into a fighting force on the argument that you should have Arabs in Raqqa because it’s an Arab city. That’s a compelling argument.

America is going to wait the six months for stage two to kick in, and they’re theoretically going to find some deal between the Kurds and the Turks that will not destroy our relations with Turkey and will allow for the final conquest of Raqqa. That’s the best people can do right now. I take my hat off to the [American] generals. They’re using diplomacy as much as they can in order not to burn our relationship with Turkey, but they need to move. Urgency requires that they move with the Kurds.

Trump is going to inherit that policy, and it makes a lot of sense. The trouble is that this policy leads to the partitioning of Syria, which is a word that America doesn’t want to use. But America’s policies have always led to this kind of an outcome. If they don’t want Assad to re-conquer the rebel parts, somebody else will, and then you’re going to get a divided Syria. It may not be permanently divided. It may be like East and West Germany. It may only be divided until the Assad regime falls or a new order unifies Syria.

That’s the question that sits on the front burner for Trump. Does he want to encourage the Turks to spread a Sunni rebel regime over parts of northern Syria and, if so, how much? Does he want to let Assad retake some of that Islamic State territory? Or does he want the Kurds to do it and have an enlarged Kurdistan?

Q: Which offer would you take?

You have to have a hard talk with Turkey to find out what they are willing to accept. You have to sit down with the Russians and the Iranians as well. And you have to meet with the Iraqis because the Iraqi Popular Forces are not going to want a Sunni Arab state sitting between them and Aleppo. They are going to see that as a potential irredentist state. The Iraqi forces have said that they are going to follow the Islamic State into Syria once they’ve taken it out of Iraq. We’ve turned them into quite a competent fighting force, and so are the Iranians.

The Iraqis and the Iranians are not going to stand by with their hands in their pockets as America tries to turn rebels into a government in northeastern Syria that would become dependent on Turkey. Turkey wants a sphere of influence that would stretch also to Turkmen parts of Iraq.

To what extent does a Turkish sphere of influence over northern Syria and parts of Iraq help America? Do we want to help the Iraqi government re-conquer all of these territories and not let Turkey meddle in there? It’s so hard to know.

You need to figure out where you can make a deal and what can you do with the least amount of violence. If we get it wrong, you’re just going to perpetuate the war. America hasn’t wanted to make any decisions on these questions: partition, Kurdish autonomy, the Turks taking a hunk of Syria as their zone of influence with Sunni rebels or possibly re-legitimizing Assad at some point with the Russians.

But America has been moving towards a partition of Syria with a Kurdistan and trying to get the Turks to agree to some kind of Kurdistan, with the PYD is independent of the PKK. It’s not the same thing and they can live with them in Syria. We’re allied with the Kurds to a certain degree and I think we owe it to the Kurds to see that through.

When it comes to the rebels, I think the emergence of Nusra as a major force in the Idlib region and increasingly in Aleppo is a danger for the United States. Look at the curriculum in their schools and what they’re teaching their kids about Osama Bin Laden as a hero and that bombing the World Trade Center was a great thing. I don’t think America should be helping these people to continue that kind of education. We’ve tried to separate the moderate rebels from this kind of jihadi Salafist wing of the rebel movement but without any success. It’s possible that Turkey can do it, and that’s where America needs to sit down with its Turkish ally to discuss some kind of partition of Syria, I suppose.

We’re not going to overthrow Damascus, Russia and Iran. The United States must take responsibility for turning Iraq into a Shiite-dominated country that is backed by Iran. This changed the balance of power in the region. We tried to destroy Hezbollah and failed.

What I’m pointing out is that America has a long tradition of supporting Shiites against Sunni rebels in Iraq, and in a sense they want to reverse that in Syria, and they’ve found that it’s difficult to do it because Russia is doing the same thing. The real challenge for the United States in Iraq is to try to get the Sunni population to be brought back to cities after they’ve been driven out and the Islamic State has been destroyed. And we’re seeing  a lot of success with that in Ramadi, and Tikrit where recent reports claim that about 90 percent of the Sunni population have been returned. And that’s very promising. The question is, how do you get that to be done in Syria?

How do we get the population of Aleppo to return once it’s taken by Russia and Assad? It’s going to happen, and America is not going to stop that. Can you repair? Do you want Syria to become North Korea? That’s where it’s headed today if the United States decides it wants to go against Putin and Assad by doubling down on sanctions and trying to force other countries from rebuilding relations with Assad. I think that’s a mistake. Assad is going to win unless America does some major heavy lifting. I think that’s the wrong policy to stick our heads in the ground.

Q: More than five years into the war, what should be the American strategy towards Syria under a Trump presidency?

Our first interest is not to get into a war with Russia and Iran that is prolonged and that will hurt the Syrian people. The Syrian people have been the victims of this ongoing Cold War between the Sunnis and the Shiites. We have stoked the flames of that war by continuing to help the Sunnis enough so that they can’t lose but not enough so they can win.

I don’t think we should try to win the war for the Sunnis by arming them. The only places that still have people in Syria are the government-occupied cities, which are chockablock full of refugees and everybody else who has already lived there. We would just drive those people out if we arm Sunnis to take those cities. That would be the most foolish policy and would lead to tons more refugees.

We do not want to drive Erdogan into the arms of Russia. Erdogan has played that card. He’s shown us that he can close [the airbase at] Incirlik or go to Russia. We have no interest in forcing him to do that. That may mean allowing him to expand his rebel-controlled part of Syria. He may exact that as a price, and that has to be negotiated with Russia. We need to sit down with Russia, Iran and Turkey and figure out how much Syrian territory Turkish proxies can take. But we’ve got to get the Kurds in there. We cannot forsake the Kurds. It’s going to be a delicate act of diplomacy.

Assad thinks he’s going to re-conquer all of Syria, and it’s possible. If he gets Russian and Iranian backing and if Turkey really is inimical to the PYD, then the PYD will have to go back to Assad. They’ll accept some kind of autonomy, but they’re going to have to accept Assad’s sovereignty the same way the Kurds in Iraq have done. It depends on Turkey’s stance. Obviously Turkey made peace with the Kurds in Iraq, but Erdogan may very well may not be willing to court that kind of autonomy because the PYD is so closely connected to PKK. That’s going to play into Assad’s hands because the Kurds are going to have to come back to him and hide under his umbrella.

Again, is it in America’s interest for the Turks to partition Syria with a northern enclave? If the difference between allowing the partition of Syria and making a deal with Russia is that we can keep Erdogan in our orbit, then maybe we have to do it.

Q: On a final note, Dr. Landis, one which I realize could be the subject of a book in of itself: What are your final thoughts on President Obama’s foreign policy legacy with regard to Syria?

President Obama and Hillary Clinton decided that Assad was going to fall and that they could carry out regime change smoothly in Syria without too much damage. This was a terrible mistake. They failed. I don’t think they failed because they didn’t shuttle enough arms in early enough. I think they were wrong to try to pursue regime change in the same way that Bush was wrong to try to pursue regime change in Iraq. The US belief that it could spread rule of law and institutional democracy in the Middle East as it exists today without spending a lot more money and time, decades, was naïve.

I think that Obama was correct to limit US involvement in Syria because it would have been endless, and would not have ended happily. Breaking down the very delicate and fragile state structures that have been created in the Middle East over the last 100 years since the emergence of nation states has not done anybody any favors. It takes a long time for authority, for legitimacy, to emerge again, and the Middle East is very fragmented along so many lines: sectarian, tribal, village, country, city, rich and poor. We’ve turned those lines into battle lines. People are killing along those lines.

Those lines were there. The dictatorships were horrible. Assad was brutal and so was Saddam Hussein and most of the monarchies and states in the Middle East because they lack legitimacy. Their publics are not united around a common national idea. To just wipe them away and expect that some kind of democracy and unity are just going to emerge in their place was very naïve. What has emerged is all of these traditional loyalties and fragmentation in a very brutal world.

I think Obama was smart to see the dangers and to try to resist. I fault him for not resisting hard enough for allowing Clinton to create the Friends of Syria, to tell Obama that Assad is going to fall and to get America involved in a war that it wasn’t going to win and wasn’t willing to win. America hasn’t taken responsibility, and it won’t take responsibility. In Iraq it’s failed to take responsibility. We haven’t taken responsibility in Libya, and we’re not taking responsibility for our assistance to Saudis in Yemen and helping to destroy that country.

I know that tons of elite Syrians were hoping that they could produce a democracy and bring justice, rule of law to Syria. They are brokenhearted. They look to the US as the only power that could possibly bring them back their homes. They wanted to come back and rule Syria, and they’re never going to do that now. America tried to do that in Iraq. We thought we could give it to the well-educated elites of Iraq: the Shalabi world. I think Shalabi probably spoke for a lot of Iraqis.

We haven’t been able to do that with the SNC that we help put together and that was populated by well-educated, well-meaning Syrians. Those are the people who believe that Obama has been a feckless leader and should have just crushed Assad and produced rule of law in Syria, democracy, and institutions. I think that’s very naïve. I think the liberals in the Middle East are small class of people. They become crushed in between various radical forces who are willing to use much more force than they are. They end up fleeing and becoming exiles, the White Russians of the modern Middle East. It’s a shame that America cannot put them in power and have them rule in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Libya, but they can’t.

It was naïve to think that they could, and we’ve learnt a very horrible lesson with a big path of destruction behind it for which the United States is in part responsible.

The White Helmets

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Vanessa Beeley
​The White Helmets are perhaps being demonstrated to be the most crucial component of the US and NATO shadow state building inside Syria.  Led by the US and UK this group is essential to the propaganda stream that facilitates the continued media and political campaign against the elected Syrian government and permits the US and NATO to justify their regime of crippling economic and humanitarian sanctions against the Syrian people.

If this latest mechanised ‘NGO’ blueprint is successful then we could see it being re-deployed as key to future neo-colonialist projects. The White Helmets are a direct intra-venus line into the terrorist enclaves within Syria, acting as a conduit for information, equipment and medical support to maintain the US NATO forces.

Is this the future of warfare, is this the “swarming” outlined in a 2000 report produced by the RAND Corporation and entitled: Swarming and the Future of Conflict.

“The emergence of a military doctrine based on swarming pods and clusters requires that defense policymakers develop new approaches to connectivity and control and achieve a new balance between the two. Far more than traditional approachesto battle, swarming clearly depends upon robust information flows. Securing these flows, therefore, can be seen as a necessary condition for successful swarming.”

[Update 22/6/2016] An important “previously unpublished interview with Jo Cox” was released today by Adam Barnett.  In this interview Jo Cox makes a clear statement regarding the way the UK Government should be maximising the use of their assets, the White Helmets, inside Syria:

“Second thing: many organisations, whether it’s the White Helmets or others, have got really creative ideas about how to operate under the siege and civil war conditions. They’ve got really interesting ideas about channelling money, getting aid in, thinking creatively about how they operate, which DfID [Department for International Development] should be listening to. [emphasis added]

And then the third thing is about giving airtime to civil society groups, making sure that they get more time on panels– and making sure this is representative of the diversity of civil society views as well, whether that’s women’s groups, or the White Helmets, or NGOs, or just doctors or people who are literally trying to get on with making society function in response to the humanitarian crisis.”

Is this why we are seeing what is, in effect, crowd funding for  proxy war? Do we really want to look back and be “judged by history” for enabling conflict and state terrorism, violating international law and invading sovereign nations.  Are we prepared to accept the consequences of such actions, consequences that should be taken by our governments alone but are now being diffused outwards to the general public.  Is this an attempt by our government to disassociate themselves from their criminal actions?

To condense our research on the Syria White Helmets, we have collated all relevant articles and interviews below.  We condemn wholeheartedly any senseless murder but we recommend that there is serious public and political re-evaluation of the morality of funding a US NATO organisation established to further “regime change” objectives in Syria.

Clinton wants to do Libya again — now to Syria

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By Tony Seed

This is the result of NATO bombing of Sirte to “enforce the no-fly zone” in Libya.

Sirte-destroyed-1

Eric Zuesse (I’m sending this commentary on Craig Murray’s recent post to all news-media🙂

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and President Obama — and some NATO partners) did it previously to Libya, and here was the result (as discussed by the retired British career diplomat Craig Murray, at his craigmurray.org.uk, who has kindly allowed me to distribute it to other newsmedia) [and I as editor will add a few clarifiers and questions in brackets] (and then afterward, I shall add my own comments); so, here is Craig Murray:

When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a “no-fly zone” they actually mean the opposite. They mean that NATO should be given untrammeled access to the [Syrian] airspace to carry out mass bombings – but that nobody else [including the Syrian government] should.

We saw it in Libya. The argument goes like this. NATO aircraft need to enforce the no-fly zone. To do this in safety, they need to attack and destroy any ground-to-air weapons capabilities on the ground. That does not just include surface-to-air missiles, both carriage mounted and hand held, but anything that can be pointed upwards and fired. They need to take out by more bombing any stores that may house such weapons. They need to take out any radar installations, including civilian ones, that may pinpoint NATO aircraft. They need to destroy any runways and hangars, including civilian ones. They need to destroy by bombing all military command and control centres, including those in built-up areas. They need to destroy the infrastructure on which air defence relies, including electricity generation and water supply, including civilian assets.

I am not exaggerating. That really is the doctrine of NATO for enforcing a “no-fly zone”, as previously witnessed in Iraq and Libya. It really was NATO aircraft which did to the beautiful Mediterranean town of Sirte the destruction which you see in that picture – in order to enforce a no-fly zone. Enforcement of the no-fly zone was the only authorisation NATO had for the massive bombing campaign on Libya which enabled regime change, which enabled rival jihadist militias to take over the country. They showed their gratitude by murdering the US Ambassador. The failure of central government led to Libya becoming the operating site from which a number now in the hundreds of thousands of boat refugees have crossed to Europe.

Now they wish to do precisely the same again. Make no mistake. Those calling for a “No-fly zone” do indeed want to stop the bombs falling on jihadist-held areas of Aleppo. But they want to replace this with NATO dropping a vastly greater weight of vastly more powerful weaponry on areas held by the Assad regime. They are relentless warmongering bastards, pretending to be motivated by humanitarian concern.

There are no easy answers in Syria. Without Russian and Syrian government air power, Syria might well already have fallen to disparate groups of murdering religious fanatics, who would then have redoubled their existing tendency to also kill each other. The pretence that there is any significant number of pro-western democratic rebels is ludicrous nonsense. But so equally is the pretence that the Assad regime is a decent regime. It is not and never has been. There is always this pathetic reductionism in the western media to conflict as between “good guys” and “bad guys”. They are all killing civilians. They are all bad guys.

If all bombing were to stop, the danger is that jihadists would again gain the upper hand. But in a situation where there are no good options, I think that is still better than the continued bombing of civilian areas held by jihadists. The fact that the West has repeatedly done this massively in Mosul or Fallujah does not make it right for the Russians or Assad to do it now. The moral balance now must be for a halt to all bombing and all military air operations – including by NATO. [But would this enable the jihadists to take over Syria?]

A security council resolution could be tabled calling for the end of all military flights, by anybody, over Syrian airspace. The UK and US would oppose that, and so would all those Tories and Blairites pretending to advocate a no-fly zone in the House of Commons. That would show up the bastards for the evil hypocrites they are.

ADDED NOW BY ERIC ZUESSE:

The extraordinarily honest “Moon of Alabama” blogger commented, a year ago:

I asked what purpose this media campaign [pumping a no-fly-zone] may have. It now seems clear that it is part of preparing the European public for all-out war on Syria, its government and its people.

The Guardian editors use the created migrant crisis to demand that “something” be done. They ridiculously first remind us that the false “no-fly-zone” campaign against Libya ended in a country ripped apart and more refugees only to then demand a similar campaign in Syria. Saner British voices remind us that “western” meddling in the Middle East is the source, not the solution for the current catastrophes.

But the BBC lets us know that the UK government is preparing for war on Syria despite an earlier parliament vote against such a move:

Ministers will start to make a case for British military action in Syria next week — with Downing Street keen to take the “next step” against so-called Islamic State — the BBC understands.

France is, of course, on board

Obama won’t unleash the Syrian no-fly zone — and war against Russia, and the nuclear destruction of human civilization (World War III) — but he is instead leaving that to Hillary Clinton. Here is what she has said about it:

To the Council on Foreign Relations, on 19 November 2015:

CLINTON: We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Opposition forces on the ground, with material support from the coalition, could then help create safe areas where Syrians could remain in the country, rather than fleeing toward Europe.

This combined approach would help enable the opposition to retake the remaining stretch of the Turkish border from ISIS, choking off its supply lines. It would also give us new leverage in the diplomatic process that Secretary Kerry is pursuing. …

QUESTION: When you were secretary of state, you tended to agree a great deal with the then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. Gates was opposed to a no-fly zone in Syria; thought it was an act of war that was risky and dangerous. This seems to me the major difference right now between what the president — what Obama’s administration is doing and what you’re proposing.

Do you not — why do you disagree with Bob Gates on this?

CLINTON: Well, I — I believe that the no-fly zone is merited and can be implemented, again, in a coalition, not an American-only no-fly zone. I fully respect Bob and his knowledge about the difficulties of implementing a no-fly zone. But if you look at where we are right now, we have to try to clear the air of the bombing attacks that are still being carried out to a limited extent by the Syrian military, now supplemented by the Russian air force.

And I think we have a chance to do that now. We have a no-fly zone over northern Iraq for years to protect the Kurds. And it proved to be successful, not easy — it never is — but I think now is the time for us to revisit those plans.

I also believe, as I said in the speech, that if we begin the conversation about a no-fly zone, something that, you know, Turkey discussed with me back when I was secretary of state in 2012, it will confront a lot of our partners in the region and beyond about what they’re going to do. And it can give us leverage in the discussions that Secretary Kerry is carrying on right now.

So I see it as both a strategic opportunity on the ground, and an opportunity for leverage in the peace negotiations. …

QUESTION: Madam Secretary. Hi. Back to the no-fly zone. are you advocating a no-fly zone over the entire country or a partial no-fly zone over an enclave where refugees might find a safe haven? And in the event of either, do you foresee see you might be potentially provoking the Russians?

CLINTON: I am advocating the second, a no-fly zone principally over northern Syria close to the Turkish (ph) border, cutting off the supply lines, trying to provide some safe refuges for refugees so they don’t have to leave Syria, creating a safe space away from the barrel bombs and the other bombardments by the Syrians. And I would certainly expect to and hope to work with the Russians to be able to do that. [She expects Putin to join America’s bombing of Syria’s government and troops and shooting-down of Russia’s planes in Syria, but no question was raised her about this.] …

To have a swath of territory that could be a safe zone … for Syrians so they wouldn’t have to leave but also for humanitarian relief, … would give us this extra leverage that I’m looking for in the diplomatic pursuits with Russia with respect to the political outcome in Syria. [She expects Russia to agree to join her war against Russia.]

During a debate against Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries:

In a debate with Bernie on 19 December 2015, Hillary argued for her proposal that the U.S. impose in Syria a “no-fly zone” where Russians were dropping bombs on the imported jihadists who have been trying to overthrow and replace Assad: “I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.” She said there that allowing the jihadists to overthrow Assad “would help us on the ground to protect Syrians,” somehow; and, also, that, somehow, shooting down Russia’s planes in Syria (the “no-fly zone”) “gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.”

Bernie Sanders’s response to that was: “I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.” He didn’t mention nuclear war as one of them.

Syria: Army Captures Vast Region in Eastern Ghouta

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Syrian Army troops and popular forces continued their advances in the key town of al-Reihan and its countryside, capturing more building blocks, factories and lands in Eastern Ghouta on Wednesday, military sources said minutes ago.

“Syrian government forces have inflicted a heavy death toll on the militants and captured Jame’a mosque, city hall, sports stadium, over 30 machinegun-equipped bunkers and defense positions and 15 large strongholds,” the sources said.

“The Syrian army soldiers have opened their way into an industrial zone in al-Reihan region and captured three factories that manufacture electrical devices, oil and electrical cables,” they added.

“Army’ engineering units have thus far defused a large number of bombs, explosive traps and landmines planted by the militants in buildings near the town’s graveyard,” the sources went on to say.     

In relevant developments in the province on Tuesday, Syrian Army troops and popular forces ambushed a group of terrorists in Eastern Ghouta, leaving dozens of militants dead or wounded.

Syrian government forces carried out a successful ambush operation against the gathering of the Takfiri terrorists in the strategic village of Reihan near Douma, inflicting major losses and heavy casualties on them.

Based on local sources fierce clashes are underway inside the village as the pro-government forces are trying to capture Reihan.

“Jeish al-Islam terrorists have called on their comrades to rush to their aid,” the sources added.

“If the Syrian Army seizes back Reihan, they will surround Tal Kurdi and inch closer to surrounding Douma,” they pointed out.

 

BREAKING: Israeli Warplane and Drone Shot Down Over Golan Heights by Syrian Air Defences

Sept. 13, 2016 by Vanessa Beeley 

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The news is coming in of a statement from the Syrian Military Command, claiming that Syrian air defenses have brought down an Israeli warplane and drone illegally entering Syrian airspace in Quneitra.  Quneitra is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in south-western Syria. It is situated in a high valley in the long disputed Golan Heights.

This report from Syrian Arab News Agency:

“Quneitra, SANA – The General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces announced on Tuesday that the Israeli enemy’s air force attacked a Syrian military position in the countryside of the southern Quneitra province around 1:00 am on September 13, 2016. The General Command said the Syrian air defense forces responded to the attack and shot down an Israeli warplane to the southwest of Quneitra and an Israeli drone to the west of Sa’sa’. It noted that the Israeli attack came in support of the armed terrorist groups and in a desperate attempt to raise the deteriorating morale of their members due to the heavy losses they have suffered in Quneitra.”

“The Syrian army says it has shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone inside Syria following an Israeli attack on Syrian army positions in the south, state media report.

Syria’s official SANA news cited the Syrian military as saying that the intruding aircraft had been detected and targeted by the country’s air defense system while they were striking Syrian military positions. The warplane, it said, was downed in western Quneitra and the drone in an area called Sa’sa’ and located on the Damascus Reef.

Soon after the report, the Israeli military denied that any of its aircraft had been shot down in Syria, claiming that two missiles were fired at them during the airstrike on Quneitra but missed.

Israeli fighter jets had attacked two Syrian army cannons in the Golan Heights, where Quneitra is located, early on Tuesday morning. It was the fifth such attack in just over a week.

Israel seized parts of the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.”

“Never believe anything until it has been officially denied” – Claude Cockburn.

Israel is denying that it’s aircraft was downed by Syrian air defenses, according to the Independent:

“Israel has denied the Syrian government’s claim to have shot down an Israeli fighter jet and drone at the start of a fragile seven-day truce in the country’s civil war.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) immediately refuted the report, saying a Syrian anti-aircraft battery had shot at its aircraft but missed their target.

“Early this morning, two missiles were launched from Syria after the IAF targeted Syrian artillery positions,” a spokesperson said. “IDF aircraft were not harmed.”

As 21WIRE has previously reported, over the past 4 years during the present Syrian conflict –multiple incursions and attacks have been carried out by Israel and its airforce inside Syria, including instances where the IDF has targeted Syrian civil infrastructure, as well as Syrian security and military installations on ground.

Is it a coincidence that this Israeli invasion of Syrian airspace come after a powerful statement from Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad, discussing reconciliation while visiting recently liberated Daraya,  and promising that Syria will re-take all terrorist held areas? Particularly when one considers that it is effectively Al Nusra [Al Qaeda in Syria]that has occupied the illegally Israeli claimed areas of the Golan Heights.  The same Al Nusra that is being treated in Israeli hospitals and that has never fired a shot in Israel’s direction. Report from SANA:

“In statements to the national media, the President said “Visiting Daraya today has plenty of meanings. They may be symbolic, but they are not addressed to the Syrian people as I and the Syrian people… have been in the same situation since the beginning of the crisis.”

He added that the Syrian people have been aware of the reality of the conspiracy and the existence of traitors and agents and the external factor and share the same feelings whenever an area is taken by the terrorists or liberated by the army or when a reconciliation agreement is achieved.

The President affirmed that the message of his visit to Daraya is addressed to those who have worked against Syria and bet on its collapse, especially those countries that got directly involved in conspiring against Syria and supporting the terrorists and the Syrian traitors and agents who chose to be part of the foreign plot.

“We as state, by coming to this area, also send a message to those [sides] that the Syrian state is determined to retake every area from the terrorists and restore security and safety,” stressed the President, adding that the state is also resolved to reconstruct all that has been destroyed physically and on the human level.

“We come here today to replace the false freedom they tried to market at the beginning of the crisis, including about Daraya, with the real freedom; the freedom that starts with restoring security and safety, goes through reconstruction and ends with the independent national decision,” said President al-Assad.

He reiterated that the message is addressed especially from Daraya “since there are some who were annoyed that [Daraya] was brought back home and had issued official statements, and they are Western officials.”

He addressed those parties saying “You are sad and extremely distressed, whereas we are happy; firstly because Daraya is back, and secondly because you are sad and distressed,” adding that the when the conspirators reach a point where they are feeling distressed, “it means that things are going in the right direction.”

The President dismissed as “malicious” and “dangerous” the talk about “demographic changes” being attempted by the Syrian state in the areas taken from the terrorists or where reconciliations happen.

He went on saying that this talk targets not only Daraya but Syria as a whole as it aims at creating the impression that the Syrian society is dismembered where social groups are at odds with each other to show that the Syrian cities are divided along sectarian, racial or religious lines.

The President, however, affirmed that there is no need to worry about this issue as this game has been played so many times and that it has now become difficult to market such a concept as “demographic change” because the Syrian people have high-level awareness and they have learned a lot throughout the crisis.

As for his message regarding the areas that are still under the gunmen’s control, President al-Assad called on the Syrians to walk towards reconciliation, stressing that experience, especially over the past three years, showed that the Syrian state has kept all its promises and has always been open for reconciliation and for stopping the bloodshed.

The doors of the homeland, he reiterated, will always be open to those who want to get back on the right track at any time and at all levels.

“However, those who are determined and insist on acting as tools in return for a handful of dollars, we simply say to them ‘the armed forces will continue their work unhesitant and undaunted and regardless of any internal or external conditions until restoring security and safety to all areas in Syria,” the President said.”

Israel has a history of denying its military losses or downplaying its defeats.  The fact that the Military Command in Syria has made a public statement concerning their air defence reaction against this Israeli incursion into its airspace, particularly over the long-disputed Golan Heights, demonstrates that Syria has reached the end of its patience with Israeli aggression and lawlessness.

This is potentially a game-changer.  It is a response to the US and Israeli hegemony in the region that cannot be ignored.