May 20 marked the start of the 2021 Syrian presidential elections. Syrians around the world outside of Syria will cast their votes—if their embassies haven’t been closed, or voting prohibited, in the countries they reside in that is.
As I wrote last week,
Western leaders hypocritically claimed concern for Syrians and wanted to ensure they live democratically – by funding and arming terrorists from around the world to slaughter them and destroy their homes, governmental buildings, and historic and cultural places–but continue to do everything in their power to make it difficult-to-impossible for Syrians to exercise their rights to vote for their president.
In closing Syrian embassies around the world, the regime-change alliance made very clear that they do not want the Syrian people to exercise their democratic right to vote in presidential elections past and future. They know that Syrians would come out in masses to vote for their president.
Otherwise, Syrians will, on May 26, vote in Syria. This is a historic moment: after 10 years of would-be regime change in Syria, ten bloody years of unnecessary war on Syria, Syrians voting, whether for Assad or not, are voting in defiance of the West’s attempts to install a puppet government.
In their attempts to overthrow President Assad, the West and allies have concocted accusation after accusation about alleged atrocities committed by Syria. Among the many fabrications, the more recent and perhaps notable was that of the April 2018, Douma “chemical attack” allegations.
The Douma “Chemical Attack”
Three years ago on April 7, France, the UK and the US (FUKUS) and their allies, along with the entirety of Western corporate media, alleged that the Syrian army had used chemical weapons on civilians in Douma, just northeast of Damascus.
The allegation was that a chemical agent airdropped onto the town had killed dozens of civilians.
As I wrote at the time, the West’s claims to have evidence to back these allegations was a transparent lie: what they had were dubious, unverified, video clips and photos shared on social media, provided by the Western-funded White Helmets and other partial and non-credible sources with affiliations to, and admiration for, Jaysh al-Islam and co-terrorist groups in eastern Ghouta.
One week later, the night before Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors were due to visit Douma (at the request of the Syrian government), FUKUS launched 103 missiles at Syria. Bombing within Damascus itself and putting the lives of Syrian civilians at risk.
They carried out this attack without waiting for any evidence at all, much less a full investigation by the OPCW. Far from a concern for the truth, or wanting to “protect” Syrian lives, FUKUS’ response was clearly about applying both political and military pressure to the government they had been trying to change for almost a decade.
Indeed, the immediate attribution of guilt to the Syrian government, alongside the promptness of the retaliation, suggests at least foreknowledge of the “attack”, if not outright responsibility for it.
Independent Media on the Ground in Syria
In contrast to the propaganda put forth from outside of Syria – by dubious propaganda outlets like Bellingcat, as well as most of Western media – a number of journalists actually went to the area in question and spoke with medical personnel and residents.
These include Russian and Syrian media, followed by foreign journalists including One America News Network, Vanessa Beeley, Robert Fisk, Germany’s ZDF, and myself.
We learned: there was no indication that any of the people brought in to the medical point had been exposed to a chemical agent; they were, instead, treated for normal shelling injuries, as well as for breathing difficulties due to the combination of smoke, dust, and their having taken refuge for extended periods in basements; they were all sent home after treatment, no one died in the makeshift hospital.
We also heard of the horrific suffering of civilians in eastern Ghouta, under the savage rule of Jaysh al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman, and the other terrorist factions occupying the region. In fact, most residents I spoke with were more desperate to emphasize how awful life had been under their rule than talk about what they clearly viewed as lies, the chemical allegations.
In one particularly notable early report, RT interviewed the 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, starring in the clip that went around the world: a clip showing Diab being hosed down in a chaotic hospital room, allegedly being treated for exposure to a chemical agent.
The boy told RT:
We were outside, and they told all of us to go into the hospital. I was immediately taken upstairs, and they started pouring water on me. The doctors started filming us here [in the hospital], they were pouring water and taking videos.
The Hague Press Conference
Diab and sixteen others — including a resuscitator, a paramedic who was working in emergency care, an emergency paramedic with the Syrian Red Crescent, a doctor with the emergency department — then spoke at The Hague.
Their testimonies dismantled the claims about a chemical attack in Douma.
But, as I recently wrote, instead of considering these Syrian sources, pundits and media sneered at the “obscene masquerade” regarding the testimonies.
Yes, the same media which uncritically endorsed the Twitter account of a seven-year-old English-illiterate Aleppo girl as gospel in the lead up to the liberation of Aleppo refused to consider the testimonies of seventeen civilians from Douma.
The same media refused the revelations of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) whistleblowers who spoke out, damning the final OPCW report for its glaring omissions – omissions that completely changed the narrative around Douma.
In October 2020, the UN Security Council itself refused to allow Jose Bustani, former general director of the OPCW, to speak. I urge people to read Bustani’s words on the cover up of OPCW expert findings around the Douma allegations.
It should be noted that it was largely due to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media that OPCW whistle-blowers spoke out, and thus that the report has been questioned. You can read some of their diligent research here.
As for Jose Bustani, for the sake of brevity, I will include just some of his words below, again encouraging readers to read his words fully.
[S]erious questions are now being raised over whether the independence, impartiality, and professionalism of some of the Organisation’s work is being severely compromised, possibly under pressure from some Member States.
Of particular concern are the circumstances surrounding the OPCW’s investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, on 7 April 2018. These concerns are emanating from the very heart of the Organisation, from the very scientists and engineers involved in the Douma investigation.
If the OPCW is confident in the robustness of its scientific work on Douma and in the integrity of the investigation, then it has little to fear in hearing out its inspectors.
If, however, the claims of evidence suppression, selective use of data, and exclusion of key investigators, among other allegations, are not unfounded, then it is even more imperative that the issue be dealt with openly and urgently.
For more nuance and details on the OPCW scandal, the suppressing of critical evidence in order to suit the regime changers’ narrative of a chemical attack having occurred in Douma, read Kit Klarenberg’s April 2021 article, in which notes:
The report released to the public was trimmed to just 34 pages, with all ballistic, forensic and witness evidence gathered by the Douma FFM, which completely dispelled the notion of a chemical attack, and pointed directly or indirectly to a staged incident, removed […] the West and allies continue to push the official, and incorrect, OPCW story, now going as far as ensuring Syria no longer has a seat at the OPCW table.
Clearly, no matter how much evidence against, and testimonies that counter, the West’s claims about a chemical attack in Douma, FUKUS is hell-bent on cramming this narrative down our throats. All in the name, of course, of concern for Syrian civilians. The same civilians the West is strangling under increasingly brutal sanctions against the Syrian people.
Testimonies From On the Ground in Douma
While much is being made of the official OPCW report and the ensuing OPCW leaks which contradicted the chemical claims, it is important to also consider the many testimonies of Syrian civilians and medical personnel, not only on the issue of a chemical attack or not, but also on the details of their lives under the savage rule of terrorist groups.
Vanessa Beeley went to Douma in April 2018, going to the makeshift hospital where the dousing scene was filmed. “All said it was not a chemical attack. Civilians in area confirmed this also. Shops hve re-opened, rebuilding has started, nobody presented any symptoms of CW attack,” she tweeted at the time.
Her subsequent article included testimonies of medical personnel and civilians, including Dr Hassan Ouyoun, who noted that he had not issued any death certificates for the April 7 “chemical attack victims,” and raised a number of important points:
I didn’t give any death certificate as a result of a chemical poisoning incident. This is a point against the White Helmets. How was the death “evaluation” carried out? Who did the examination? Who identified the cause of death? How was the burial carried out without a certificate from a doctor?
Valid concerns. And yet, Western media and talking heads instead ran with the dubious footage and narratives supplied by the White Helmets and terrorist-affiliated allies.
I myself went by taxi to Douma in late April, 2018, also going to the by then infamous hospital room in question. I returned to the district in early May to visit neighbouring towns.
As I wrote after my visit, the man I spoke with, Marwan Jaber, said that while hospital staff were treating normal bombing injuries and breathing cases, “strangers” entered screaming about a chemical attack and started hosing people with water.
Patients’ symptoms were “not in line with the symptoms of a chemical attack. There wasn’t pupil constriction or Broncho-constrictions leading to death,” Jaber recalled. “The symptoms we received were all symptoms of choking, patients affected by the smoke and regular war injuries. They came here, we treated them, and dispatched them home,” Jaber said, noting that none, not one, had died.
Nor were any of the hospital staff affected, as one might expect they would be had a chemical agent been used. The staff, as seen in the video produced by the White Helmets, wore no protective clothing, as would have been necessary when dealing with a toxic chemical.
In Marwan Jaber’s opinion, the unfamiliar men who barged into the hospital screaming weren’t trained in medicine. He went so far as to doubt whether they’d finished high school.
Life Under Terrorist Occupation
Before walking around Douma and speaking with residents, I walked down some of the wide and very long, well-reinforced tunnels which Jaysh al-Islam terrorists used to move below ground, including in vehicles, to avoid detection from the Syrian army and allies.
Part of the labyrinth of tunnels Jaysh al Islam terrorists formerly occupying Douma used to evade detection and thus prolong the misery of civilians.
Longer video here: https://t.co/gRFP9Xqktk pic.twitter.com/fNyvZ5Zg3Y
— Eva Karene Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) May 24, 2018
From my article:
As I walked around Douma, I asked residents about life there and especially about whether they believed there was a chemical attack in their town. Some replied they had no idea about an attack. But most replied decisively no, there hadn’t been any.
At a stand selling vegetables and fruits, Tawfeeq Zahran replied that he believed Jaysh al-Islam had spoken of a chemical attack to frighten them, to make them fear the Syrian army and government. Men around him nodded their agreement. They spoke more about their starvation under Jaysh al-Islam and about the public executions by sword that the terror group had routinely carried out.
A group of young men selling baked goods waved me over, handing me one. They also replied that they knew nothing of an attack. They were more concerned about the fact that, under Jaysh al-Islam, they couldn’t get the flour needed for their baked goods, much less food to live. This was a constant among every civilian I met: Their hunger and terror under Jaysh al-Islam’s rule.
Since most people I met in Douma and neighbouring villages wanted to speak about life under terrorist rule, I wrote a follow-up article focusing on that.
The chemical story was to them largely unimportant. But the terror they endured still haunted them, and likely will the rest of their lives.
Mahmoud Al Khaled, who spoke to Vanessa Beeley about the White Helmets’ involvement in organ theft, wasn’t the only Syrian civilian to speak about this. In December 2018, I wrote about a more than one-hour-long panel on the White Helmets at the United Nations on December 20.
That panel, along with the countless testimonies Vanessa Beeley and Maxim Grigoriev respectively collected, are essential listening and reading for those who want to understand the true nature of the White Helmets.
How any sensible person, much less any credible journalist or body, could rely on the White Helmets’ narratives regarding chemical attacks in Syria is truly baffling.
How the West Forgot Kidnapped Civilians and Ignored Executions
“Concern for Syrian civilians” has been the disingenuous rallying cry for all those pushing the Western war on Syria, from politicians to the press. But this “concern” only applies when it suits.
The Western media don’t actually care what civilians witnesses have to say about the so-called “chemical attacks”, the Western media don’t investigate what life is like for Syrian civilians living under terrorist occupation, or having their organs trafficked by Western-backed White Helmets.
And the Western media didn’t write about civilians kidnapped — used as slave labour, tortured, killed, and some freed when eastern Ghouta was liberated — because their scripts didn’t tell them to, or because they didn’t know: they weren’t in Syria, nor following Syrian media carefully.
Vanessa Beeley was, however, in Syria, and at the time tweeted:
Jaish Al Islam lied to secure their evacuation from #Douma. Only two buses have exited with kidnap victims. It is reported that remaining 3-5000 were executed prior to JAI surrender, many years before. All hope destroyed for waiting families. https://t.co/hY1H41xj6L
— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) April 10, 2018
As it turned out, although thousands were expected to be released, Jaysh al-Islam terrorists had apparently executed the vast majority.
Al Masdar reported:
With expectation to free up to 5 thousands captives, it turned out that only 200 of them remained alive throughout years of captivity.
Sources said that Jaysh al-Islam manipulated the Syrian government and Russian mediators by providing fake lists of the captives with the objective to secure a surrender deal whereby it militants can safely leave their bastion to the country’s north.
Thousands of the kidnapped were executed by their captors or died of illness, hunger or fatigue while forced to dig tunnels.
Hundreds of distressed families desperately waited for their kidnapped relatives at al-Fayhaa Stadium in Damascus as the last 2 buses carrying around 100 captives arrived at the overcrowded facility.
The day of their release, abductees spoke to Syrian media: they were kidnapped by Jaysh al-Islam and al-Nusra in December 2013 from the industrial area of Adra, north of Damascus. They were kept in cages and humiliated, tortured, forced to dig tunnels, including children. Children and adults were starved, children deprived of education and even of sunlight.
Thousands of kidnapped civilians, brutalized, tormented, starved, and the majority executed or died in inhumane, unlivable, circumstances, and not a peep from Western media. The same media that claimed to have sources all over eastern Ghouta.
A search from the period of March to August 2018 revealed only Syrian, Chinese, Russian, and Iranian news sites reporting on the issue. Deafening silence from Western media. Vanessa Beeley was one of the only Western journalists who cared enough to report on it, although at the time, waiting at the site where the kidnapped civilians would be brought, in order to speak with them and share their horrific experiences.
At the time of the abductees’ release, the Guardian’s Istanbul-based Shaheen devoted a scant few sentences to mentioning the matter, referring to them as “kidnapped individuals and prisoners of war” with no mention that they were civilians, including women and children, no mention of their numbers, and none of the outrage that would have filled days of Guardian articles were they “kidnapped individuals and prisoners of war” taken by the Syrian army.
Reuters also made scant mention of the abductees, also merely referring to them as prisoners, with no indication that they were Syrian civilians, including children.
Terrorists’ Chemical Capabilities
Some, while aware that the OPCW lied about Douma, still believe the corrupted body investigated honestly about previous chemical claims.
But there is much to indicate that is not the case, and much to indicate that, in fact, it has been terrorist factions that have many a time used chemicals against civilians and against the Syrian army.
Journalist Sharmine Narwani, in March 2018, exposed the likelihood that a chemical lab which she visited in Eastern Ghouta was used to manufacture chemicals which terrorists used in staged attacks.
This week, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated some Eastern Ghouta farmlands between Shifouniyeh and Douma and discovered a well-equipped chemical laboratory run by Saudi-backed Islamist terrorists. Not a single Western reporter showed up to investigate the facility.
It is now indisputable that Western-backed and Gulf-financed Islamist militants have the capabilities to produce the chemicals of war inside the battlefield – and not in the makeshift way that media suggests. This lab demonstrates that militants can amass foreign-made equipment, create production lines and procure difficult-to-obtain components.
When Vanessa Beeley went to Douma, she visited a chemical lab in an area controlled by Jaysh al-Islam, seeing a gas cylinder which looked similar to the famous Douma “chemical attack” cylinder.
#Douma – 2nd chemical weapon manufacturing site I visited yesterday. This site was in a Jaish Al Islam fortified, secure area where nobody could enter without passing their checkpoints. Similar cylinder to one claimed to have been used in alleged CW attack on 7/4. @21WIRE #Ghouta pic.twitter.com/6566x6St8l
— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) April 24, 2018
Interestingly, a CNN journalist who was with the delegation Beeley was with chose to ignore the scene.
Just prior to #Douma alleged attacks, I visited terrorist bomb factories with @CNN Frederick Pleitgen #Ghouta. We saw evidence of armed groups using chemical weapons, when Pleitgen reported Douma, he said nothing, blocked me on Twitter when challenged.
— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) April 21, 2021
Presumably, it didn’t fit in with his scripted narrative on Douma.
When she interviewed civilians in Hamouri, eastern Ghouta, a month before the chemical allegations, Beeley learned that terrorist factions and their White Helmet accomplices had intended to stage an attack then, but it was derailed by Syrian civilians who came out demonstrating with Syrian flags.
On the 6th of March, in Hamouriya, we decided to protest against Failaq Al Rahman and we raised the Syrian flag. We marched against the terrorist occupation. They (Failaq Al Rahman) and the White Helmets were preparing a chemical attack which they intended to blame on the Syrian Arab Army as they closed in on the militants. They were furious with us for our march and for raising the Syrian flag, because it ruined their plans.
Very hard to present a “chemical attack” with scenes of cheering, flag-waving, Syrian civilians…
Fast forward to Saraqib, Idlib, February 2020, not long after it was liberated, where Beeley saw a former al-Nusra training centre containing another chemical lab.
#Idlib #Saraqeb – former Nusra Front military training center, suspected used by #WhiteHelmets also. Contains chemical lab where I saw boxes of ball bearings, nitric acid & other chem ingredients – alongside number of small rockets that could be packed wth materials. Report soon. pic.twitter.com/9WD7SLtCKM
— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) February 24, 2020
Meanwhile, there are numerous instances of terrorist factions using chemicals against Syrian civilians.
Narwani’s Ghouta article also noted:
In Syria, the trouble began in December 2012 when the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front (a former IS ally), took over the country’s only chlorine manufacturing plant, a joint business venture with the Saudis located east of Aleppo. Damascus issued an immediate warning to the UN: “Terrorist groups may resort to using chemical weapons against the Syrian people… after having gained control of a toxic chlorine factory.”
Three months later, in what is viewed as the first real CW incident of the Syrian conflict, 26 people – the majority of them (16) Syrian soldiers – were killed in the village of Khan Assal in Aleppo in a reported chlorine attack. The next day, the Syrian government requested that the UN investigate the attack.
A few days later, there was another alleged chemical incident in Adra, northeast of Damascus, followed by a reported attack in Saraqeb, and then in Ghouta in August – the CW incident that almost triggered US military strikes. A Jordanian reporter on the ground in Ghouta interviewed witnesses who said the Saudis had provided militants with chemical weapons and that some had been detonated by accident.
Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam, publicly admitted in 2016 to using toxic agents in mortar attacks against Kurds in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsood. “During the clashes one of the Jaysh al-Islam brigades used [weapons] forbidden in this kind of confrontations,” the group said in a statement about the chemical attack, in which it claimed the perpetrator would be held accountable.
In November 2016, I spoke with the former director of al-Kindi hospital who told me of 65 casualties of what he and other doctors believed to be some sort of chemical attack, committed by terrorist factions.
In December 2018, Vanessa Beeley spoke with residents of the Khalidiyyah district of Aleppo where a week prior terrorists had committed a chemical attack, as well as in two other districts of the city.
In her upload of the residents’ testimonies, Beeley noted:
Nusra Front (rebranded as HTS) embedded in the Layramoun industrial area were responsible for the shelling of these districts with a total of 5 or 6 modified munitions containing toxic substances believed to be related to Amonium Nitrate (usually used as a chemical fertilizer).
Within hours of the attack, more than 150 civilians, including many children were treated for the effects of the toxic gas in the Aleppo hospitals – according to Dr Zaher Batal, head of the Aleppo Medical Association. Symptoms were streaming eyes, respiratory difficulty and tightness of the chest.
In March 2019, Vanessa Beeley wrote of a suspected chemical attack northwest of Al Suqaylabiyah, writing:
I was in Al Suqaylabiyah when this attack took place and I was able to visit the local hospital that received the 34 victims which included three children, one severely affected with respiratory problems. Victims complained of breathing difficulties, skin blisters, eye sensitivity, nausea and shock syndrome after the attack. One victim, Nawfal Tawbar, described the 1m high dense white smoke that enveloped the area after the mortars had exploded.
Clearly, there are numerous incidents of terrorist groups both having the capability to commit chemical attacks and their having actually done so.
Previous “Chemical Attack” Allegations
Douma was not first “chemical attack” the West accused the Syrian government of carrying out. Over the years there have been many others, all of which were marked by the same inconsistencies of narrative and evidence of foreknowledge that mark the “official story” on Douma.
At Khan Sheikhoun for example, as I wrote in my 2018 Douma article:
It is worth recalling that their report in the previous year, on the allegations of a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, contained “irregularities,” to put it mildly. The most glaring irregularity (mentioned in the annex section of their report) was the admission of 57 “victims” to hospital before any alleged attack even could have occurred. Another unexplained irregularity was sarin showing up in urine but not in blood tests from the same sample.
And at Ghouta, from the same article:
In 2013, the West and its media had accused the Syria government of a chemical attack in eastern Ghouta…These accusations were shot down by reports from investigative journalists, particularly Seymour Hersh, who concluded that terrorists possessed sarin and the workshops to manufacture rockets. Indeed, I saw one of these mortar and rocket workshops when in Saqba, eastern Ghouta. Massive amounts of missiles of varying sizes lay, as-yet unused, inside the workshop.
According to Mint Press News, Saudi Arabia also gave chemical weapons to terrorists in Ghouta for the 2013 attack. The Mint Press article cited anti-government fighters who said they’d been given chemical weapons which they didn’t know how to use, naming Saudi Prince Bandar as the source. So, in early May, I went to Kafr Batna where, in August 2013, hundreds of people had allegedly been treated at the Tuberculosis Hospital.
Mohammed al-Aghawani, administrator of the Tuberculosis Hospital which treated hundreds of alleged “chemical victims”, told me:
There was no chemical attack. I wasn’t at the hospital that night, but my staff told me what happened. Around 2am, there was suddenly noise, shouting, cars arriving at the hospital, bringing civilians. Some people, armed men, said there was a chemical attack. Some of them had foreign accents. They took people’s clothes off and started pouring water on them. They kept bringing people in till around 7am. Around 1,000 people, mostly children, alive, from nearby villages like Ein Terma, Hezze, Zamalka. Many people later said their children never came back.
Vanessa Beeley interviewed Ahmed Toumeh, a 42 year old from Hamouriya, about an alleged “chemical attack” in Zamalka in 2013:
Since the “chemical attack” in Zamalka in 2013 that supposedly killed 1300, people were fooled into not seeing it was an act between Nusra Front and their civil defence. When the chemicals were used, they had hospitals ready always two days before – they had information in advance of the supposed attacks. How could they know unless they were involved?
At that time (2013) there had been an earlier chemical attack by terrorist groups against the Syrian Army in Khan Al Asal. The Syrian government had invited UN investigators to Damascus. The same night the UN inspectors arrived, they (Nusra Front and White Helmets) prepared for the ‘chemical attack’ in Zamalka.
Everything was prepared. The video was filmed and produced, the water sprayers had been prepared two days in advance.
Many people were fooled by this act and from then on the White Helmets added to the image. They would film themselves rescuing children who were not hurt and they would take a wounded person and film him to change public opinion, to criminalise the Syrian government, portray the Army as destructive.
Shooting The Messengers
Those offering on-the-ground, substantive accounts countering the mainstream claims on Douma have been smeared and disregarded as Syrian or Russian propagandists. Ironically, most of those doing the smears have never set foot in Syria, much less Douma.
When Pearson Sharp, Vanessa Beeley, and myself shared our findings from Douma, we were predictably lambasted by Western corporate media like the BBC. And when others questioned the murky narrative, they too were smeared. As Vanessa Beeley wrote:
Academics, Professors Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward, came under concerted attack as did other members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media when they analysed the events and questioned the veracity of it being a chemical attack. In the UK, the Times published no less than four articles labeling myself and the “rogue” academics as “Assad’s useful idiots,” timed to perfection on the day that the UK, US and France launched their unlawful bombing campaign against Syria. A bombing campaign that was fully enabled by the ignominious rush to judgement by corporate media in the West.
The Atlantic Council is a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things.
They produced a whitewash article to discredit independent reporting on Syria, in which they dedicated a considerable segment to attacking both Vanessa Beeley and myself:
Many of the attacks on the White Helmets were both voiced and amplified by a group of pro-Assad bloggers, of whom the most prominent were British citizen Vanessa Beeley and Canadian citizen Eva Bartlett. These, in turn, were supported online by a group of Twitter users who have repeatedly targeted critics of the Assad regime. Neither Bartlett nor Beeley can be viewed as a credible or impartial commentator.”
A perhaps unintended result of their linking to articles we’ve written around Douma, and the White Helmets, is that open-minded readers might become informed instead of blindly believed the Atlantic Council’s nonsense.
There were more smears, but as usual they copy-pasted from prior ones, and don’t actually delve into the content of what we presented, which is testimonies of civilians — named civilians, even – in contrast to the “unnamed sources” or “media activists” Western corporate media so fondly make up.
An aspect of such character assassinations is implying that the reporting we do is effortless and we are essentially toured around by the Syrian government.
What the average reader may not realize is that even for ourselves, people known in Syria by now, there are the same bureaucratic procedures that all journalists must follow.
Further, unlike corporate journalists who have obscene funding and teams of people to help with research, translations, subtitling and even the logistics of planning a trip to Syria (visas, flights, travel from Lebanon, accommodation), we do everything on our own, with help from Syrian friends (accurate translations) and at our own expense.
Former producer Patrick Corbett elaborated on this to me a few years ago, saying:
If you’re working for a network like NBC, CBC, what people don’t realize is that behind the scenes you’ve got so much backup in every way. First of all, before you go out, you’ve got a team of researchers preparing things for you. You’ve got people who have contacts everywhere.
When you go to a place like Syria you have a fixer; a fixer is a local person who has contacts, can take you places..things like that. You go with things like a satellite phone, so you’re always in touch with your home base. If you have any problems, they’ll get people to you….
They’ve got somebody who will work with you doing your voice-over. When somebody stands in front of the camera, that’s not what’s coming out of their head, its what’s coming out of the corporate entity that is that news producing organization. They get paid six figure incomes to do what they do.
BBC Producer Admits (then Retracts) the Truth
While the BBC is guilty of some of the worst war propaganda against Syria in this 10 year war against the Syrian people, it is worth mentioning that one of the BBC’s producers vocally expressed his skepticism over the “evidence” provided after the alleged events of April 7, 2018.
As Vanessa Beeley noted in 2019:
Riam Dalati is on the BBC production team based in Beirut and describes himself, on his Twitter page, as an “esteemed colleague” of Quentin Sommerville, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent.
Dalati broke ranks with his UK Government-aligned media, on Twitter, to announce that “after almost 6 months of investigation, I can prove, without a doubt, that the Douma hospital scene was staged.”
…Almost immediately after the alleged incident in Douma, he tweeted out his frustration that “activists and rebels” had used “corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.”
The emotive wording of Dalati’s tweet, he was “sick and tired” of such manipulation of events, suggested that this was not the first time children had been used as props in a macabre war theatre designed to elicit public sympathy for escalated military intervention in Syria disguised as a necessary “humanitarian” crackdown on “Assad’s gassing of his own people.”
Dalati had been referring to the arranging of two children’s corpses into a “last hug” still life composition, a photo that went viral, rocketed into the social media sphere by activists who had collaborated with the brutal Jaish al-Islam regime while it tortured and abused the Syrian civilians under its control.
Yesterday, I posted the following:
Seems like many others also find this questionable. pic.twitter.com/PRRE3hNfws
— Eva Karene Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) April 12, 2018
Whatever the reason for Dalati’s exasperation, the tweet was deleted before a watered down version appeared. Dalati claimed that a “breach of editorial policy” and lack of context was behind this alteration. Apparently BBC employees are not allowed to be “sick and tired” of the exploitation of children to promote a war that will inevitably kill more children. Simultaneously, Dalati’s account was protected, making tweets visible only to approved followers.
Critical Issues Beyond Douma and the OPCW
While the issue of the OPCW coverup and distortion of facts on the ground is important, there are many other issues sidelined by media, including well-intended media.
There’s the fact that countless hospitals have been attacked — severely damaged or destroyed — by terrorists, to the silence of Western media and politicians. This in turn means Syrians in areas where hospitals have been damaged or destroyed are denied medical care.
The suffering of civilians under terrorist rule is one. Thankfully, as most of Syria has been liberated from terrorist rule, there are now fewer civilians subject to their barbarism.
What has not been eradicated and has only gotten worse and worse are the criminal, brutal, sanctions against the Syrian people.
An article from the South African Broadcasting Corporation noted:
Electricity rationing in Syria has reached its highest levels due to the government’s inability to secure the fuel needed to generate electricity. This is mainly due to the damaging international economic sanctions led by the Western powers including the IIT protagonists France, UK and the US.
[…]The value of the Syrian pound has crumbled to almost nothing. Today it is about 3,660 pounds to one US dollar. An average wage is less than 2 US dollars a day.
The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019…is credited with bringing about starvation, darkness, plague, misery, robbery, kidnappings, increased mortality rate and the certain destruction of a nation that was once a beacon of hope across the Middle East.
International aid no longer reaches Syria compared to pre-Caesar Act. Many agencies are scared of falling foul of the harsh Act, which in short makes life a living hell for millions of ordinary Syrians.
In his overview of the Douma chemical lies, Kevork Almassian, of Syriana Analysis, also spoke of the harsh realities Syrians endure now, thanks to the war and the brutal western sanctions against Syrians:
Just imagine that for a second, that you have to wait for two to three to four hours to buy one package of bread that can suffice you maybe for two days for you and your family. Just imagine that you have to wait 20 to 48 hours on a gas station to fill a little bit fuel for your car. It’s unimaginable, you cannot imagine that because you’re not living that, but it is happening now in 21st century.
It is high time to put the Douma hoax to rest. It’s also beyond time to acknowledge the huge sacrifices of the Syrian army (and allies) in fighting terrorism and restoring peace to Syria.
Meanwhile, while cynical Western war propagandists mock the Syrian presidential elections, Syrians in Syria and around the world hold massive demonstrations in support of their president, as they did in 2014.