Journey To Aleppo: Exposing The Truth Buried Under NATO Propaganda

undefinedThe extent of the destruction inflicted upon the Kurdish-held Sheikh Maqsoud by the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels” and the scars of the battle for its liberation are highlighted in the state of the neighborhood’s infrastructure. (Photo by Vanessa Beeley)

ALEPPO, Syria — Aleppo has become synonymous with destruction and “Syrian state-generated” violence among those whose perception of the situation in the war-torn nation is contained within the prism of mainstream media narratives.

The NATO-aligned media maintains a tight grip on information coming out of this beleaguered city, ensuring that whatever comes out is tailored to meet State Department requirements and advocacy for regime change. The propaganda mill churns out familiar tales of chemical weapons, siege, starvation, and bombs targeting civilians–all of which are attributed to the Syrian government and military, with little variation on this theme.

The purpose of this photo essay and my journey to Aleppo on Aug. 14 was to discover for myself as a Western journalist the truth behind the major storylines in the US and NATO narrative on Syria.

East and west Aleppo

Most Western media fail to highlight the “tale of two cities” playing out between eastern and western Aleppo. The east is occupied by a number of groups backed by the United States, NATO, and their allies in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Israel. Civilians in the government-held area of western Aleppo describe these groups broadly as “terrorists,” often without noting any specific group.

Over 1.5 million civilians live in the government-held areas of western Aleppo, including 600,000 civilians who fled eastern Aleppo in 2012. Of the 200,000 to 220,000 people living in the terrorist-occupied areas in the eastern parts of the city, an estimated 50,000 or more are members of the so-called “rebel” factions and their families, according to the Aleppo Medical Association.

In most Western media reports, little mention is made of this division of Aleppo which was created by the incursion of factions of armed insurgents (or, as the mainstream media and US government call them, “moderate rebels”) which drove hordes of civilians out of the eastern parts of the city into the safety of the Syrian government-held western area.

Moderate rebels

Western media delights in perpetuating the narrative of the “brave opposition forces” being “pounded” by Syrian and Russian air raids. What they fail to mention is that the identified 22 brigades that operate in and around Aleppo are made up of US State Department-funded terrorist fighters.

Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki is among these brigades. Video recently surfaced of its members abusing and beheading a child, Abdullah Issa, from a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Aleppo.

There are also various offshoots of the Free Syrian Army, the US-armed and -funded “moderate” opposition group that was trained by the CIA, which now relies upon the Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), al-Qaida’s arm in Syria, to bolster its arms and logistics capabilities.

The Nusra Front makes up 80 percent of the terrorists on the ground in eastern Aleppo. (The group recently announced a rebranding campaign in which it changed its name to the Front for the Conquest of Sham, or Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, and has made outward attempts to distance itself from al-Qaida. It has, however, made no changes to its leadership or extremist, elitist ideology; thus, this article will continue to refer to the group as the Nusra Front.)

Chemical weapons

The use of chemical weapons against civilians in western Aleppo by the terrorist groups, particularly the Nusra Front, is anathema to Western media. Instead, the media picks up spurious reports issued by “activist” groups and “citizen journalists” which claim to be working inside Aleppo. As in the case of a Sept. 7 report from Al-Jazeera on the Syrian Arab Army launching chemical attacks on civilians, this information is disseminated with alarming alacrity by journalists based in Washington, London, or elsewhere, who have limited ability to verify this information or assess what’s really happening on the ground prior to publishing. The fact that the Nusra Front took over the only chemical factory in Aleppo in 2012 is swept under the carpet of inconvenient truths. And while the mainstream media doesn’t report it, former U.N. weapons inspectors and MIT rocket scientists have also confirmed that the Nusra Front has powerful chemical weapons capabilities.

The activist groups and citizen journalists

Media pundits outside Syria rely on “activist groups” and “citizen journalists,” who are invariably embedded in areas occupied by groups such as the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, assorted Free Syrian Army brigades, and even Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known in the West as ISIS or ISIL). Whether they are individual activists or groups like the White Helmets or Aleppo Media Center, it is hard to define them as independent or objective when they are known to receive funding from the United States, NATO member states, and state-funded institutions like USAID–all of which have a vested interest in the “regime change” road map in Syria. The “evidence” these sources produce rarely deviates from the official US narrative and reinforces the propaganda that drives the train of lies that justifies intervention.

A fairly rudimentary investigation into the roots of the Aleppo Media Center reveal that it is funded by the French Foreign Office, which celebrates NATO- and Saudi-armed mercenaries as revolutionaries. The Aleppo Media Center is a member of the Syrian Expatriates Organization, and it also receives “support” from the Syrian Media Incubator, a creation of Canal France International, “the French cooperation agency and media operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

The French foreign ministry announced in January 2014:

In April 2014, CFI will open a media centre, the Syrian Media Incubator, in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 60km from the Syrian border, to the north of Aleppo. This collective workspace aims to provide modern telecommunication tools and support Syrian journalists who are determined to continue relaying news from their country, whatever the cost.

France can hardly be considered an impartial player in the neocolonialist game. In July 2015, the country’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was taken to court by a group of Syrian plaintiffs who accused him of stoking the Syrian conflict in 2012.

The case cited several incidents in which Fabius was perceived to have praised the Nusra Front, including one in which he told Le Monde that the group was “doing a good job.” The grieving families consider his refusal to designate the the Nusra Front a terrorist organization in 2012 and his move to condone the group’s actions on the ground as major contributing factors in maintaining the brutal war on Syria and its people.

It is the duty of journalists to question the impartiality of reports from these organizations claiming to be independent. Western journalists are quick enough to dismiss reports that run against the grain of their narrative as being “pro-Assad.”

After the Aleppo Media Center posted the video of Omran Daqneesh on Aug. 17, the image of the Syrian boy covered in dust and blood was broadcast across global media networks without a single question regarding some glaring anomalies surrounding this incident. The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, The Associated Press and its many, many subscribers, the Los Angeles Times, The Telegraph, CNN, and Time are just some of the mainstream media outlets which reproduced this video and images from it without hesitation.

A Google search for “Fox News and Aleppo Media Center” returns an astounding number of results. So, Fox News relies upon a French Foreign Office-funded organization which produces propaganda from pro-NATO “activists” planted in Aleppo. Hardly “fair and balanced” reporting.

Humanitarian disaster and siege

In informing the Western world that the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad is responsible for the siege of Aleppo, the Western media is selling the public a humanitarian war. “Syria’s rebels unite to break Assad’s siege of Aleppo,” according to a headline in the Guardian on Aug. 6.

This particular article actually celebrates the use of suicide bombers in the “rebel” capture of the SAA military academy in southern Aleppo. It describes the area as “the heart of Aleppo,” but that’s a very misleading term which suggests “rebels” have broken into the depths of the government-held western Aleppo. It’s an untruth that becomes a truth in the minds of a public which relies upon a “respected” media outlet to provide them with insights into the Syrian conflict.

These articles often do not mention the humanitarian corridors established by the Syrian state and Russia, or the amnesty deals being offered to the “armed opposition” fighting in Aleppo. When these subjects are mentioned, though, it is in passing or with a negative slant that undermines the very real efforts toward reconciliation being made by the Syrian state. The ministry of national reconciliation is headed up by Dr. Ali Haider, a member of the genuine, nonviolent Syrian opposition, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

On July 27, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported:

The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces has been sending text messages calling on the militants in the eastern part of Aleppo city to lay down arms and seek a settlement of their legal status, and urging citizens to join national reconciliations and expel foreign militants from their localities.

Nor does the media mention that the United States and European Union are imposing crippling economic sanctions on Syria, while also actively pouring in thousands of weapons and millions of dollars in funding to the 360,000 foreign mercenaries committing human rights abuses throughout Syria.

Aleppo is, indeed, under siege, but that siege is being imposed by the “moderate opposition” groups on civilians in western Aleppo and those living under a terrorist occupation in eastern Aleppo. Humanitarian convoys heading into western Aleppo are forced to pass through high-risk areas occupied by the Nusra Front and the myriad other terrorist groups operating there.

In August 2015, I shared a report from a resident of Aleppo on my blog. It reads, in part:

I feel nothing but rage when I see these thugs and criminals on the other side of the city pouring thousands of litres of clean, fresh water into the disease infested river under the noses of the thirsty Syrians they are claiming to liberate. They are the terrorists, they are the monsters in this story and they are committing daily mass crimes against the citizens of Aleppo but this is never mentioned by the western media. Are we not Syrian? Does our plight mean nothing, does our story not count? This is Aleppo, the real Aleppo, not the western media fantasy, this is our sleeping, waking, perpetual nightmare of life under terrorist occupation.

As Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari, Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council in January:

The true siege is on 23 million Syrians and it is being inflicted upon them by the US, U.K. and EU government sanctions.

Along with the US-led coalition’s bombing raids that have targeted power plants and other essential infrastructure, these sanctions have decimated the civilian health and education sectors in Syria. If Syrians are starving or unable to receive treatment for severe injuries or chronic illnesses, it is because NATO is imposing a war upon them, introducing mercenary fighters who are paid to murder and drive Syrians from their homes, and blocking supplies and equipment from reaching hospitals and schools.

Of course, all of these topics are worthy of stand-alone articles. My trip to Aleppo was curtailed slightly due to the escalation in fighting between the SAA and various “moderate rebel” and mercenary groups headed up by the Nusra Front. I was, however, able to glean some very valuable information and statements that go a long way toward discrediting the NATO-aligned media narrative.

One Syrian man in Aleppo told me:

Almost everything they blame the government or the army for in the last five years was actually carried out by the terrorists, by NATO. They are targeting infrastructure, hospitals, kids, women. They are raping women. They are using chemicals, chlorine, mustard gas.

I’ve withheld his name out of respect for his safety–a common issue in a city that has been under a constantly evolving media and terrorist siege since the NATO intervention gathered momentum in Syria almost six years ago.

The information siege has been imposed upon Aleppo by American and European mainstream media, as well as various offshoot media funded by the Gulf states or Turkey that rely heavily on al-Qaida as sources. It has ensured that little real news has been able to escape the propaganda tent erected over a city that resisted all attempts to be drawn into the armed insurrection from the very beginning of the dirty war on Syria.

And this dirty war is one that had been incubating long before it officially began in December 2011, as demonstrated by State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, which show that plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the government had been forming as early as 2006.

What often goes unreported is the punishment meted out to Aleppo’s civilian population by the multiple brigades of terrorists armed, funded and even trained by the United States, NATO members and their allies in the Gulf states and Israel. The mainstream media instead scrambles to further vilify the SAA and Assad government by any means available to them, including the dissemination of later debunked and discredited reports.

Traveling from Homs to Aleppo

Travelling with a fellow independent journalist, Eva Bartlett, a translator, and a taxi driver, I entered Aleppo on Aug. 14 via Castello Road, which some mainstream media have taken to calling “Death Road.” To get there, we were given a security clearance which enabled us to travel via roads that, from the western city of Homs onward, snake through areas where various terrorist groups, including Daesh, are never far from the route or where the threat of kidnapping is to be taken into account. Entry into military areas once inside Aleppo could not be approved without SAA protection and accompaniment.

In Homs I witnessed what is a familiar sight throughout Syria: buildings scarred and battered by years of terrorist attacks. I was told that we were passing what was once known as 60th Street, but has since taken a new name, Street of Death (Shara al-Moot), as it came under terrorist attack from north, south, east and west. These attacks employed snipers, mortars and suicide bombers; it seems there were no restrictions on ways for terrorists to kill the Syrian people in Homs.

Traveling north on the road from Homs to Hama, we came to a major SAA checkpoint at a crossroads teeming with life. Waiting for the inevitable security check, I had the opportunity to lean out of the taxi window and observe. Photography, however, is forbidden at checkpoints.

These SAA checkpoints are common throughout Syria. Their main purpose is to check cars for explosives and weapons or extremist militants such as Daesh or the Nusra Front, who might be attempting to pass undetected from one governorate to another. Cars and other vehicles are used as suicide bombs in many areas, particularly in Homs’ al-Zahra’a neighborhood, which has been targeted many times, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries.

A steady stream of buses and livestock wagons came into this checkpoint from the directions of Hama and Homs. Many of the buses were carrying families clutching their belongings, possibly refugees, and vans were topped with assorted boxes and bags.

We got a wave from passing SAA soldiers, who, despite the severity of the fighting in Aleppo and the surrounding countryside, never displayed anything except courtesy and respect–something I found to be true throughout my four-week journey around Syria. One soldier sat cross-legged on top of a tank that was on a transporter parked at the crossroads, and he smiled in the already sweltering morning heat as he waited for his comrades to join him.

The SAA equipment was noticeably battle-weary. Their weapons bore the marks of war and had not been replaced for some time. And while public images of Daesh fighters usually feature weapons and other supplies that look like they’ve just been taken out of the box, many SAA soldiers were wearing boots and uniforms with heavy wear and tear.

The SAA is affected by the sanctions enforced by the United States and European Union, but the various terrorist brigades backed by the United States, NATO, their allies in the Gulf states and Israel are not. The latter’s supply chain is unbroken and unaffected, thanks to the Turkish gun and equipment running services via its porous borders with Syria.

US and EU sanctions effectively prevent any supplies from entering Syria via legal channels, and we frequently saw the detrimental effects this has had on essential civilian infrastructure as well as military personnel and equipment.

However, illegal supply channels have not been affected, ensuring perpetual conflict by arming and equipping the many brigades of “moderate rebels” and “opposition forces.” Whether it’s Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates sustaining Daesh with arms flowing in through the Balkans, or the United States supplying its rotating cast of “moderate rebels” with weapons via Turkey, there is no turning off the logistics and armament tap to the “armed opposition.”

In April, for example, an IHS Jane’s report featured a packing list for a December 2015 US arms shipment to “Syrian rebels” via the Syria-Turkey border. The report stated:

The cargo listed in the document included AK-47 rifles, PKM general-purpose machine guns, DShK heavy machine guns, RPG-7 rocket launchers, and 9K111M Faktoria anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) systems. The Faktoria is an improved version of the 9K111 Fagot ATGW, the primary difference being that its missile has a tandem warhead for defeating explosive reactive armour (ERA) fitted to some tanks.

It should be noted that this particular arms shipment to the “moderate rebels” was made during a ceasefire agreement that had been implemented across many Syrian governorates.

This 2014 video report from Deutsche Welle further explains the gun-running process from Turkey to Syria, a process that continues to this day. DW explains in the introduction to the video:

Every day, trucks laden with food, clothing, and other supplies cross the border from Turkey to Syria. It is unclear who is picking up the goods. The hauliers believe most of the cargo is going to the ‘Islamic State’ militia. Oil, weapons, and soldiers are also being smuggled over the border, and Kurdish volunteers are now patrolling the area in a bid to stem the supplies.

It is hard to disassemble the various factions of armed militants. Many times I asked for clarification on which armed group had carried out a specific attack and was told that most Syrians made no such differentiation. According to civilians, these groups are made up of criminals, mercenaries and terrorists, and their titles are irrelevant.

The United States has played this fact to its own advantage, using the “intermingling” of “rebel” groups as an excuse to impede Russian and Syrian efforts to target officially designated terrorist groups, such as Daesh and the Nusra Front, in case US operatives are among them. As such, US operatives in groups they are supporting effectively become “human shields” for the terrorist groups that the US is ostensibly waging war against, like Daesh.

In an April 28 press briefing, John Kirby, a spokesperson for the State Department, noted:

[W]e know it’s a very fluid, dynamic environment, that there are – that there is intermingling between the groups. Some of that is by design because they want to be near one another and some of it is by happenstance. And it is why strikes in and around Aleppo become a more problematic issue, because it’s very difficult to separate some of these groups from one another geographically in order to – and then to be precise enough that only the group that you’re trying to go after is going to be hit.

Along our route into Aleppo, assorted vehicles were being used to transport SAA soldiers–ramshackle livestock trucks with open backs, old buses, brightly colored supply wagons–but the level of respect and admiration with which the soldiers were viewed by Syrian civilians was palpable.

Antiimperialism in Syria

After the checkpoint between Homs and Hama, there is a stretch of road which is notorious for vehicles of bandits forcing cars and buses off the road before kidnapping passengers. Despite the risks it held, the stretch of road was picturesque, lined with maize, olive groves, and sunflowers. The first signs of livestock–chicken, sheep, and cows–dotted the greening landscape.

Passing through the city of al-Salamiyah, we were told that Daesh was encamped about 10 kilometers east of the road. Looking out across the seemingly interminable desert stretching into the horizon, it was hard to imagine that we were visible to these terrorist entities.

As the road continued toward Aleppo, we reached an area where Daesh had drawn closer and we were told they were only 2 kilometers away. Trucks were passing us on their way from Homs to Aleppo carrying supplies for SAA soldiers, I presumed as reinforcements for the campaign against the terrorist enclaves in al-Ramouseh, a suburb in southeast Aleppo.

Eerie reminders of the war being imposed upon Syria rose up out of the desert, like the burned-out trucks and cars overturned and disintegrating slowly in the blazing heat. An apocalyptic vision of a country being torn apart by another NATO intervention, a dirty war being inflicted upon a sovereign nation, with the objective of “regime change” regardless of the bloodshed and devastating costs incurred by the Syrian people.

As we drew closer to the outskirts of Aleppo, it became apparent that the SAA had closed the usual western route for security reasons. We were diverted to the east of the city via Khanaser, a town in the al-Safira district, and finally the industrial city of Sheikh Najjar before the road doubled back in toward the northern entrance into western Aleppo via the Kurdish-held Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood.

We skirted some of Aleppo’s most densely terrorist-occupied areas in eastern Aleppo. Again, these terrorists might be Daesh, the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, or Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki, among many others. This map clearly shows the areas held by various factions of armed insurgents. Black represents areas held by Daesh; green: “moderate rebel forces;” yellow: Kurds; red: the SAA; and olive: contested areas. This map is constantly changing as the SAA advances, particularly in al-Ramouseh.

At this point, the “sniper banks” became more noticeable, sand and rubble piled high on either side of the road, sometimes topped by car remnants and scrap metal or barrels used as a screen to protect travellers from sniper sights and fire.

Prior to reaching Castello Road we arrived at a T-junction, and our confused taxi driver hesitated before turning right.

Another vehicle tore after us within seconds, with SAA soldiers on board who yelled at us to turn left. Turning right would take us directly into a Daesh-held area, they warned.

Nearing the entrance to Aleppo, not far from the city’s northwestern industrial area of al-Layramoun, we passed a checkpoint where the soldiers urged us to maintain our distance from other vehicles. There was a high risk of terrorist mortar fire, they explained, and putting distance between vehicles meant reducing casualties if one vehicle was hit.

Following fierce clashes, SAA forces had recaptured al-Layramoun from the Nusra Front and the 16th Division of the Free Syrian Army in July. The area is strategically important, as it borders Castello Road, which had been a major artery for supplies and arms for the terrorists streaming in directly from Turkey. Once the SAA retook the area, however, it effectively cut terrorist entities off from the Turkish supply chain.

In the fields along the route were dozens of unexploded gas canisters, the “hell cannon”-fired bombs usually packed with explosives, glass, shrapnel, nails, and even chemicals. Those which had not hit their targets littered the countryside. These are the improvised missiles fired on a daily basis into the Syrian government-held areas of western Aleppo by the various armed insurgents occupying the eastern parts of Aleppo.

Current figures from the Aleppo Medical Association put the population of government-held western Aleppo at 1.5 million civilians. Another 200,000 to 220,000 people–a quarter of whom are terrorists and their families–are living in the eastern parts of the city controlled by various factions of armed insurgents backed by the United States, NATO and their allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel.

However, according to On the Ground News, a media outlet known for harboring sympathies for the “rebel” forces, there are no civilians left in eastern Aleppo.

Passing the former Aleppo Central Prison

We passed the former Aleppo Central Prison, where the Ahrar al-Sham coalition, Daesh, and their associates staged a prolonged siege, holding SAA soldiers trapped inside from April 2013 to May 2014. According to a revelatory Al-Akhbar article written after the liberation of the prison by SAA forces attacking from outside, there were two main reasons for the siege:

The militants wanted to achieve two secondary goals: recruiting some prisoners after ‘liberating’ them, and taking advantage of the prison’s strategic location. That is in addition to the main goal of freeing dozens of Islamist prisoners, the majority of whom (61 to be precise) belong to Jund al-Sham.

It’s another fact never mentioned by the media beating the drums of war who are working in lockstep with the State Department to maintain the “Assad must go,” “no-fly zone,” “boots on the ground” narrative: Across Syria, the so-called “moderate rebels” released prisoners–convicted rapists, murderers and other hardcore criminals–in order to swell the ranks of their terrorist armies.

Entering Aleppo

We entered Aleppo via Sheikh Maqsoud, a Kurdish-held neighborhood that has been severely attacked by the terrorist gangs surrounding it, including the 16th Division of the Free Syrian Army and the Nusra Front. The decimation of the neighborhood was as shocking as it is in every other town, village, or city that has been pounded by NATO-backed terrorists’ hell cannon mortar fire and a variety of rockets, explosive bullets and missiles fired from launchers ranging from rudimentary, improvised devices to the more sophisticated US-supplied equipment.

Yet the weapons–missiles, gas canisters, water heaters, and any other container at hand which is packed full of lethal explosives and limb-shredding materials–are rarely highlighted or even mentioned in the mainstream media. The unnamed Syrian whose account I published on my blog, also reported:

The terrorists are using mortars, explosive bullets, cooking-gas cylinders bombs and water-warming long cylinders bombs, filled up with explosives and shrapnel and nails, in what they call ‘Hell Canon’. (google these weapons or see their YouTube clips. The cooking-gas cylinder is made of steel, and it weighs around 25 kg. Imagine it thrown by a cannon to hit civilians? And imagine knowing that it’s full with explosives?

Dr. Mohammed Jassim, a volunteer medic, told RT recently:

February and April of 2016 was the worst period for Sheikh Maqsood we got thousands of attacks, so many different kinds of shelling, and according to my statistics we had almost 800 dead and injured civilians, and the neighbourhood was largely destroyed.

On April 20, US Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, updated reporters at the Pentagon via video feed from his station in Baghdad. He admitted that, at the time, “It’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo.”

The atmosphere was tense as we entered Sheikh Maqsoud. The Kurds are in control of this region but we were told not to take photos near the checkpoints manned by Kurdish forces.

The weaponization of children

Amid the terrorist attacks and the daily massacres of Syrian civilians by Western-backed “moderate rebels,” the children maimed and mutilated by these attacks are almost invisible to the mainstream media. The mainstream media does, however, showcase stories like that of Omran Daqneesh–stories which serve and propel the NATO narrative despite the dubious sources from which they emanate.

If the Western media is truly concerned about the children affected by war, where was the outrage in July, when Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki, a US-backed terrorist group, beheaded a 12-year-old Palestinian boy named Abdullah Issa?

Why did the State Department find it so difficult to unequivocally condemn this hideous crime against one innocent child, and yet another was immediately described by that same State Department as “the real face of what is going on in Syria?”

The Guardian reported quoted State Department spokesman John Kirby as saying:

That little boy has never had a day in his life where there hasn’t been war, death, destruction, poverty in his own country.

According to the Guardian, Kirby further “suggested Omran’s case should spur efforts to secure a broad cessation of hostilities.” No need for an investigation prior to catapulting this image into the realms of propaganda designed to tug at the heartstrings.

Abdullah’s brutal decapitation did not provoke calls for the cessation of hostilities from Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki or a commitment from the State Department to stop arming and supporting his “moderate” murderers.

Video of Abdullah’s brutal beheading gave the US “pause about any assistance” to his murderers; video of Omran, bloody and covered in dust, elicited a range of calls to arms, including a no-fly zone, military intervention, increased restrictions on humanitarian aid, and reinforced sanctions.

It’s important to understand where the story of Omran Daqneesh started. It was broken by the aforementioned Aleppo Media Center and “photojournalist” Mahmoud Raslan (sometimes spelled Rslan), who has been identified as the militant in the following photo, taken with the Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki members who executed Abdullah Issa.

undefined

Mahmoud Raslan (in blue; bottom left) taking a selfie with two of the men who tortured Abdullah Issa. Photo: Mahmoud Raslan (in blue; bottom left) taking a selfie with two of the men who tortured Abdullah Issa. (Photo: The Canary)

The story of Omran Daqneesh was produced by two highly questionable sources–and, in the case of Raslan, possibly criminal–yet it was deemed credible and worthy of mass promotion by Western media.

In an Aug. 31 opinion piece for teleSUR, Tim Anderson, an Australian academic and writer, highlighted the difference in the media’s treatment of Omran and Abdullah:

The images of little Omran, put out by jihadist support groups, gained widespread attention from the western media, which has backed the sectarian gangs through more than five years of brutal terrorist war. On the other hand, video of the murder of little Abdallah was largely ignored, or scorned with claims that the boy was really 18 years old, or a spy for the pro-Syria Palestinian militia Liwa al-Quds.

What is perhaps most disturbing about the comparison between these two stories, is the cynical abuse and weaponization of children that is being supported by the NATO-aligned media machine. This is a calculated use of one child as a psychological instrument to promote and legitimize war, while the torture and cold-blooded execution of another is marginalized to protect the US agents who perpetuate that war.

Behind ISIL

City of Aleppo

As we drove further into the suburbs of Aleppo the damage became less intense. A veneer of normality obscured the terror that this city faces each day as it comes under attack from the armed insurgent groups camped at the boundaries of their refuge from Salafist extremism and ethnic cleansing–a threat hugely feared by the religious minorities in government-held western Aleppo.

Dr. Nabil Antaki is one of the 4,160 doctors working in western Aleppo who are largely ignored in the NATO-aligned media. He said minorities, like those in Shiite Muslim and Christian communities, were terrified that if the SAA were to be driven back by the assorted aforementioned terrorist gangs, it would result in a situation similar to that of Mosul, Iraq, where these minorities would be massacred.

These minorities, according to Dr. Antaki, were making contingency plans to leave the city in convoys to attempt to protect themselves from the terrorist hordes if they did break through SAA defenses.

Visiting Bani Zaid

Bani Zaid, a town in the northern part of the province of Aleppo, had been liberated by the SAA in July, just a few weeks prior to our arrival in Aleppo. Before liberation, the neighborhood had been used as a launchpad for the deadly “hell cannon” missiles into residential areas in western Aleppo, so the development was hugely celebrated by the Syrian people.

Information was sketchy on the actual liberation, but we were told that airstrikes and artillery bombardment lasted for one week after the SAA had laid siege to the area.

We were told that there had been a large number of Nusra Front fighters and members of the 16th Division of the Free Syrian Army embedded in Bani Zaid. The SAA had dug tunnels to within a few meters of the militant positions prior to engaging in fierce face-to-face battles with the terrorists for five days before the liberation was completed and the militants broke ranks to surrender or flee the area.

A de-mining program was still underway in Bani Zaid when we were walking around, so we were not able to stray from the main streets or enter any of the buildings or sniper nests constructed from barrels that appeared at intervals along the roadsides. Most of the terrorist “hell cannon” missile launchers had been destroyed by the SAA and allies when they liberated the area.

We met with a few SAA soldiers and civilian volunteers in Bani Zaid who opted to camp inside the liberated town to stand guard over the deserted streets and houses.

Ihab, a member of the Syrian volunteer forces known as the National Defense Forces, has three sons–all of whom are fighting in the SAA. One of his brothers had already been killed while fighting against the NATO proxy invasion of Syria.

One of his three sons was fighting from inside the SAA military academy close to al-Ramouseh, and another was on the outside also battling terrorist insurgents.

Al-Ramouseh is one of the most hotly contested parts of Aleppo. Liberation of this area by the SAA will mean the opening of another road to Damascus from the south of Aleppo that has been under the control of various “moderate rebel” factions for some time.

Ahmed, another civilian volunteer, has chosen to live in a bombed-out home where he can protect Bani Zaid from terrorist incursions. He has been living in these conditions since the liberation because, he said, “it is my duty to protect my country.”

He made his surroundings as comfortable as possible and sold cigarettes to soldiers as a meager income generator.

During this short tour of Bani Zaid we also saw the remains of the house that had been used as the headquarters of the US-backed and -equipped 16th Division of the Free Syrian Army. The brigade was headed by Yousef and Khaled Hayani, two brothers. Khaled was killed in the air raids; Yousef survived.

The 16th Division has been responsible for many of the missile attacks on residential areas inside the Syrian government-held western Aleppo and the Kurdish-held Sheikh Maqsoud.

These massacres and vicious attacks are regularly ignored by the NATO-aligned media, including their network of Western-funded NGOs which hold sway over public opinion with fabricated reports and unsubstantiated accounts always in lockstep with NATO member state objectives in Syria, including “regime change.”

Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist.

Printed with permission from Mint Press News.

УСА вампир
RELATED POSTS
Remember The Golan Heights?
During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Syrian forces had surprised Israel and were fast approaching the edge of the steep Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the 1967 war. It seemed as if Syrian armor and infantry would retake Golan, then pour down into Israeli Galilee. Soviet recon satellites observed Israel moving its nuclear-armed, 500km-range Jericho missiles out of protective caves and onto their launch pads. At the same time, Israel was seen loading nuclear bombs on their US-supplied F-4 fighter-bombers at Tel Nof airbase. Believing Israel was about to use nuclear weapons against Syria and Egypt, Moscow put huge pressure on both ...
READ MORE
What Is The Obama Regime Up To?
Obama has announced new sanctions on Russia based on unsubstantiated charges by the CIA that the Russian government influenced the outcome of the US presidential election with “malicious cyber-enabled activities.” The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a report “related to the declaration of 35 Russian officials persona non grata for malicious cyber activity and harassment.” The report is a description of “tools and infrastructure used by Russian intelligence services to compromise and exploit networks and infrastructure associated with the recent U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities.” The report does not provide ...
READ MORE
The Origin Of Jihadism
The origin of jihadism is prohibited from being reported truthfully — this truth is prohibited by all of the Establishment ‘press,’  including almost all ‘alternative news’ sites — in the West, because it challenges all of the “sensitive” buttons (all of the bigotries, to put the matter in plain terms); and, though this fact (the Establishment’s bigotries, and its hypocrisy to preserve and protect their bigotries even while condemning those of other people) will prevent almost all of the news-media that I send this to from publishing it, nothing prevents me from writing it; so, here it is (in whatever ...
READ MORE
The history of “Humanitarian Warfare”: NATO’s reign of terror In Kosovo, the destruction of Yugoslavia
The following text was written in the immediate wake of the 1999 NATO bombings of Yugoslavia and the invasion of Kosovo by NATO troops. It is now well established that the war on Yugoslavia was waged on a fabricated humanitarian pretext and that extensive war crimes were committed by NATO and the US. In retrospect, the war on Yugoslavia was a “dress rehearsal” for subsequent US-NATO sponsored humanitarian wars including Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), Syria (2011), Ukraine (2014). Who are the war criminals? In a bitter irony, the so-called International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague ...
READ MORE
CIA Continues Cover up of Involvement in Chile’s 9/11 Military Coup
Though intelligence documents from the 1973 coup period have been declassified since 1999, the CIA continues to censor them. The CIA continues to withhold information on its involvement in the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that led to the death of President Salvador Allende in Chile, followed by adeadly dictatorship, according to documents posted Friday by the National Security Archive. In the list of published documents, the section regarding Chile is censored. The President’s Daily Briefs, the intelligence reports given daily to the U.S. president, in particular former President Richard Nixon days before Allende’s death, were among those censored. Allende during his last moments ...
READ MORE
Ukraine Atrocities: The Illegal Use Of White Phosphorous Fire Bombs Against Donetsk Civilians
A report on August 15th from Russian Television alleged that the Ukrainian government that the U.S. installed in February of this year was resorting to internationally banned white phosphorous firebombs in order to help destroy the million people who lived in the now Ukrainian separatist capital of Donetsk. It lands super-hot and starts fires and burns to death almost anyone it touches. The Ukrainian separatists are the residents in Ukraine’s southeast, where Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian President, was elected overwhelmingly by the votes of the people in this region in 2010. They reject the government that Obama installed, and are therefore seeking independence from it. ...
READ MORE
Libya: From Africa’s Richest State Under Gaddafi, to Failed State After NATO Intervention
This article was first published on October 19, 2014. This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Western-backed assassination of Libya’s former president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the fall of one of Africa’s greatest nations. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. After NATO’s intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As ...
READ MORE
Who Will Pray For The Victims Of French Colonial Aggression?
What has happened in Paris last weekend is surely tragic indeed. At least 129 civilians were murdered in blatant terrorist attacks on civilian areas. The mainstream media and social media hysteria is understandable given the surprise nature of the attacks and the geographical location in which they took place: Paris, the city of love. However, if the public truly care about the deaths of innocent lives perhaps they should direct their anger, frustration, fear and political grievances at the French government. The sympathy, fear and unity that the public feel is not only a powerful distraction from truly awful atrocities that ...
READ MORE
China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power
First published on GR in March 2012 The study of world power has been blighted by Eurocentric historians who have distorted and ignored the dominant role China played in the world economy between 1100 and 1800.  John Hobson’s[1] brilliant historical survey of the world economy during this period provides an abundance of empirical data making the case for China ’s economic and technological superiority over Western civilization for the better part of a millennium prior to its conquest and decline in the 19th century. China ’s re-emergence as a world economic power raises important questions about what we can learn from its ...
READ MORE
Israel: America’s “Mad Dog” in Syria
Israel has played an increasingly provocative role in the destructive conflict unfolding within and along Syria’s borders since 2011. To many observers, it appears Israeli policy borders between opportunistic and unilateral aggression. In reality, Israel’s role in the Syrian conflict fits a much larger and long-term pattern with Anglo-American plans not only for Syria but for the entire region. A more recent row between Israel and Syria was the reported incursion of Israeli warplanes into Syrian airspace, including attacks near the eastern Syrian city of Palmyra. Palmyra hosts an ongoing battle between Syrian forces and the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) terrorist ...
READ MORE
British Colonials Starved To Death 60 Million-Plus Indians, But, Why?
  The chronic want of food and water, the lack of sanitation and medical help, the neglect of means of communication, the poverty of educational provision, the all-pervading spirit of depression that I have myself seen to prevail in our villages after over a hundred years of British rule make me despair of its beneficence. — Rabindranath Tagore If the history of British rule in India were to be condensed to a single fact, it is this: there was no increase in India’s per-capita income from 1757 to 1947.[1] Churchill, explaining why he defended the stockpiling of food within Britain, while millions died ...
READ MORE
“The Civilized World” Strikes Again: Donald Trump, a Complete Puppet of the Military Industrial Complex
It is apparent given the timelines and the lack of time given to verifying the validity of accusations concerning the gas attack in Homs, Syria, that plans had already been coordinated for such an attack. Watching the mainstream media the viewer receives the impression from the wording of the announcers reports and questions for the “experts” that the matter was already decided in favour of the U.S. military strike on the airbase. I see pictures of Colin Powell at the UN holding up glossy photos of supposed chemical weapons manufacturing plants. It demonstrates to a high degree how easily manipulated Trump ...
READ MORE
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading As Democracy
For the first time since WW II, overt fascists hold real power in Europe. Radicalized ultranationalists. Anti-Semites. Hate-mongers.  Cold-blooded killers. Whitewashing high crimes. A puppet regime. America’s newest colony. Mocking democratic values. Violating fundamental rule of law principles. Unaccountably. Western leaders won’t explain. Nor will the media. Hard truths are buried. Ukraine’s government usurped power forcibly. Putschist rule has no legitimacy. Especially regimes waging war on their own people. Murdering them in cold blood. Committing horrendous human rights abuses. Tolerating no opposition. Ruling by intimidation. Force-feeding neoliberal harshness on impoverished people. Making life unbearable overall. More on this below. On December 4, Wall Street Journal editors published ...
READ MORE
Bosnia, Cyprus and Kosovo: America and Islamism in the Balkans
Central Bosnia in 2016: Flags of the ISIS The conflicts that engulfed the former Yugoslavia still remain unresolved in the political arena and open to Western political shenanigans and covert meddling from Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Bosnia and Kosovo.  Orthodox Christianity faces many attacks and only a naïve individual would claim that America and the hands of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are clean. America and other Western nations did little to stop Turkey invading Cyprus in 1974 and creating a de-facto nation and altering the demographics of northern Cyprus and using this area for military purposes. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs ...
READ MORE
Videos On Ex-Yugoslavia: Reverse Side Of The Truth
Four Serbian monasteries from the Middle Ages in Kosovo and Metohija still not destroyed by local Albanians Четири српска средњевековна манастира на Косову и Метохији која још увек нису срушена од стране месних Шиптара U.S.A. documentary movie about the fabricated lies by Bosnian Muslims and Croats about the civil war in Titoist Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia during the time of the destruction of Yugoslavia, 1991-1995. This documentary movie (26 min.) was never publically shown. Документарни филм у трајању од 26 минута производње Сједињених америчких држава о исфабрикованим лажима од стране босанских муслимана и Хрвата о грађанском рату на просторима титоистичке Босне и ...
READ MORE
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people. Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El ...
READ MORE
Twenty Years Of Dictatorial Democracy
James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors The presidential campaign has mortified millions of Americans in part because the presidency has become far more dangerous in recent times.  Since 9/11, we have lived in a perpetual emergency which supposedly justifies trampling the law and Constitution.  And the illegalities will not end after Tuesday’s vote count.  Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have signaled that they will perpetuate power grabs in the next four years. For generations, politicians have touted voting as a magical process which almost automatically  protects the ...
READ MORE
The United States as Destroyer of Nations
In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 – an invasion which many Iraqis believe left their country in the worst condition it has been since the Mongol invasion of 1258 — there was much discussion in the media about the Bush Administration’s goal for “nation-building” in that country.   Of course, if there ever were such a goal, it was quickly abandoned, and one hardly ever hears the term “nation-building” discussed as a U.S. foreign policy objective anymore. The stark truth is that the U.S. really has no intentions of helping to build strong states in the Middle ...
READ MORE
Iraq Invasion – Anniversary Of The Biggest Terrorist Attack In Modern History
Since terrorism’s tragedy is again in the news, it is timely to revisit perhaps one of the biggest acts of terrorism in modern history – the illegal invasion and destruction – ongoing – of Iraq. March 20th marked the thirteenth anniversary of an action resulting in the equivalent of a Paris, Brussels, London 7th July 2005, often multiple times daily in Iraq ever since. As for 11th September 2001, there has frequently been that death toll and heart break every several weeks, also ongoing. America and Britain have arguably engaged in and generated the legacy of one of the longest recorded attacks ...
READ MORE
Remember The Golan Heights?
What Is The Obama Regime Up To?
The Origin Of Jihadism
The history of “Humanitarian Warfare”: NATO’s reign of terror In Kosovo, the destruction of Yugoslavia
CIA Continues Cover up of Involvement in Chile’s 9/11 Military Coup
Ukraine Atrocities: The Illegal Use Of White Phosphorous Fire Bombs Against Donetsk Civilians
Libya: From Africa’s Richest State Under Gaddafi, to Failed State After NATO Intervention
Who Will Pray For The Victims Of French Colonial Aggression?
China: Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence as a Global Power
The US Has Invaded 71 Nations Since 1776 – Make 4 July Independence From America Day (2014)
Israel: America’s “Mad Dog” in Syria
British Colonials Starved To Death 60 Million-Plus Indians, But, Why?
“The Civilized World” Strikes Again: Donald Trump, a Complete Puppet of the Military Industrial Complex
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading As Democracy
Bosnia, Cyprus and Kosovo: America and Islamism in the Balkans
Videos On Ex-Yugoslavia: Reverse Side Of The Truth
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
Twenty Years Of Dictatorial Democracy
The United States as Destroyer of Nations
Iraq Invasion – Anniversary Of The Biggest Terrorist Attack In Modern History