Syrias „revolution“: What we did NOT (want to) see

„Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict“
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/336934-syria-war-conflict-narrative/
Did you know this? That 88 Syrian soldiers were killed in that very early phase of the Syrian civil war?

5 years ago the Syrian „uprising“ or „revolution“ started in the city of Deraa. It is not much that we really know about the details and the dynamics that triggered the deadly cycle of cause and effects which – not long later – climaxed into a spirale of violence that now enters it´s sixth year.

The western mainstream media and along with it the media of it´s Gulf Arab allies – especially the state-owned channels Al Arabiyya and Al Jazeera –  knew the „facts“ from the beginning:
Unarmed people demonstrated peacefully for democracy
– The state security forces responded with lethal force without a real reason

While it is true that security forces in Deraa strongly overreacted to youths spraying anti-government graffiti on the walls of a school by torturing some of them and insulting their parents when they protested against the treatment of their kids, this narrative which exclusively displays the opposition perspective of the events leaves other, less pleasant facts untouched.
Though the uncomfortable facts undermining the romantic myth of the „peaceful revolution“ are still widely un(der)reported by most western news outlets, other more independent sources have revealed them:

„But there were signs from the very start that armed groups were involved…A Syrian television crew, working for the government, produced a tape showing men with pistols and Kalashnikovs in a Deraa demonstration in the very early days of the “rising”.“
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syrian-civil-war-five-years-on-2011-bashar-al-assad-isis-iran-conflict-a6929186.html

„According to several different opposition sources, up to 60 Syrian security forces were killed that day in a massacre that has been hidden by both the Syrian government and residents of Daraa.
One Daraa native explains: “At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed.”
Beyond that, the details are sketchy. Nizar Nayouf, a longtime Syria dissident and blogger who wrote about the killings, says the massacre took place in the final week of March 2011.“
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/

Here is another case of early violence against the Syrian army which western media either denied or attributed to the army itself. This article, however, debunks the media lie and clearly identifies armed opposition as the perpetrators:
http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/western-press-misled-who-shot-the-nine-soldiers-in-banyas-not-syrian-security-forces/

„According to the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the combined death toll for Syrian government forces was 2,569 by March 2012, the first year of the conflict. At that time, the UN’s total casualty count for all victims of political violence in Syria was 5,000.“
So, 50% of the casualties were soldiers of the army. Do you still believe that the „opposition“ was unarmed and peaceful? Considering this enormous death toll of the Syrian army, do you still believe that they „overreacted“?

No country likes to have the media of hostile western countries on its soil, especially after Iraq 2003 and Libya 2011 blatantly showed how media deliberately misreported events, concealed „unfavorable“ facts and exaggerated/overemphasized other facts. The Syrian government had no interest in exposing weakness and revealing the degree of it´s loss of control in some cities. Western and Arab media and governments simply declared all reporting by Syrian and pro-Syrian sources „propaganda“ and treated every claim by Syrian „activists“ as undisputed truth.
Whenever army soldiers were killed, Al Jazeera and co. had an „activist“ on the phone line explaining that the Sunni soldiers were executed by Alawite officers because they refused to shoot at unarmed civilians or because they wanted to defect. This myth, often cited by anti-Syrian mass media was so ridiculous that even Rami Abdulrahman from the frequently quoted pro-rebel Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) commented it as follows: „“This game of saying the army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this because it is propaganda.”
Especially in the first year of the civil war, the primary source of western news channels, the activists, were quick declaring every person killed by the Syrian army as „civilian“. This was exposed as a lie by – no joke! – Al Jazeeras own reporter Nir Rosen: „Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.“

One of the best-known and most cited „activists“ was Danny Abu Dayyem. Watch this video that exposes him and embarasses CNN:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lWB5ssifTg

Another „prominent“ Activist and primary source for Al Jazeera was Khaled Abu Saleh, who was also exposed as a liar and forger of news:
http://counterpsyops.com/2012/07/07/khaled-abu-saleh-a-multitask-syrian-hacktivists-on-western-payroll/

So, for many months the fairy tale was perpetuated of a population enduring it´s governments unlimited and unjustified violence peacefully and patiently until one day it had enough and decided to „defend“ itself. Some went so far to claim that this allegedly nonviolent phase of the „revolution“ lasted almost one year. This is a brazen lie. In a single incident in early June 2011 – note that this is less than three months after Deraa – some 120 soldiers and police were killed in the city of Jisr al Shughur.
This is what Syria expert Joshua Landis tells about the massacre: „There is little evidence of wide-scale mutiny of Syrian soldiers. No solid evidence that they shot at each other, and some evidence that the young men of Jisr set a trap for Syrian soldiers with simple weapons and dynamite…The Syrian government then published tapped phone calls of activists in Jisr that it collected on the eve of the initial combat. If they can be taken at face value, the activists establish a plan to send all the women and children of the city to Turkey. They were instructed to tell foreigners that Syrian military personnel shot each other. When enlisted men refused to shoot on unarmed demonstrators, their Alawi officers mowed them down – that was the story to be told to the Western press.“:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0cwLeMX8MA

Despite persistent media claims that the Syrian forces were acting with „irresponsible“ or „disproportional“ brutality, video clips like the following from Douma near Damascus (not later than March 2012) show a different picture: The soldiers carry no weapons, they are throwing stones back at the demonstrators:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdWH-SlIz6w

This video from Homs (not later than 2012) is even more unmasking for the „unarmed opposition“ as it shows armed „civilians“ firing at unarmed riot police:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsfsMVEO3nc

One thing is crystal clear: Syrias „uprising“ was armed and violent from its very first days. No doubt, many innocent people were killed by the security forces, but to claim that the violence was one-sided, that the protesters were unarmed and entirely peaceful, that police and army had no reason to resort to violence means ignoring the bitter truth of the not so romantic beginnings of what became a full scale armed insurrection.

Supported by no evidence „The Telegraph“ revives the Assad-ISIL cooperation myth

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11455602/Oil-middleman-between-Syria-and-Isil-is-new-target-for-EU-sanctions.html
Below some ridiculous and hollow claims that anyone can easily refute:

„the rise of the jihadist movement [ISIL] has served Mr Assad’s interests by allowing him to pose as an essential bulwark against Islamist terrorism.“
Wrong: Before and parallel to ISIL there were and are jihadist movement that are hardly less sectarian and radical: The Nusra Front, The Islamic Front…
https://radioyaran.com/2014/09/11/the-vetted-moderate-rebels-of-the-free-syrian-army-who-and-where-are-they/

„Isil fighters captured the oilfields of eastern Syria in 2013. Since then, the regime is believed to have funded the jihadists by purchasing oil from Isil.“
Ah…so, the author and his sources do not KNOW anything, they just speculate.

„the regime is understood to be running some oil and gas installations jointly with the terrorist movement.“
Really? Then, why is the „regime“ vehemently fighting ISIL at the Jadal gas fields in eastern Homs province? And more important: Why is ISIL attacking it´s „customer“ and „oil and gas provider“ if they are maintaining a „joint venture“?

„Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary…added: „…yet another indication that Assad’s ‚war‘ on Isil is a sham and that he supports them financially.““
The Syrian Army suffered some of its highest casualties in major battles against ISIL:

a) at the Tabqa military airport in Raqqa province
For months Tabqa was besieged and under continuous attacks by ISIL:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Al-Tabqa_air_base
In addition to the hundreds of soldiers killed in battle, another 200 army soldiers were taken captive and executed:
„Following the capture of Tabqa air base a number of images and videos have been posted online showing around 200+ men, reportedly captured soldiers, being marched out into the desert and executed.“
https://bellingcat.checkdesk.org/en/story/60

b) at the Jadal or „Al Shaer“ gas fields:
„The victorious Islamic State summarily executed an estimated 300 captured regime soldiers and civilian employees“
http://syriadirect.org/main/30-reports/1719-prelude-to-a-massacre-the-downfall-of-a-raqqa

c) at the Division 17 and Brigade 93 in Raqqa province:
„Hundreds of Syrian army soldiers scattered to the safety of nearby villages still opposed to the Islamic State, or fled to the Syrian army’s 93rd Brigade, roughly 45km northwest of Division 17. An estimated 50 caught inside Division 17 were quickly killed, their heads removed and rammed on metal pikes lining the streets and parks of A-Raqqa city. More than 85 Syrian army soldiers died during the Islamic State’s final operation to capture Division 17“
http://syriadirect.org/main/30-reports/1719-prelude-to-a-massacre-the-downfall-of-a-raqqa

d) at Regiment 121 in al Hasakah province:
„in Al-Hasakah province, the Islamic State commander Umar Al-Shishani led a near simultaneous assault against Regiment 121..The Islamic State claims to have killed more than 100 soldiers at Regiment 121“
http://syriadirect.org/main/30-reports/1719-prelude-to-a-massacre-the-downfall-of-a-raqqa

As a matter of fact and for many months the Syrian Army has deployed two of its most experienced commanders to fight ISIL: In Eastern Homs it was until recently Colonel Suhayl al Hassan, the commander of the special forces unit „The Tiger forces“. During the most crucial operations he was assisted by another special forces unit called the „Desert Falcons“.
In Deir al Zour the government forces are led by nobody less than Major General Issam Zhahreddine.
Despite the above mentioned setbacks the Syrian Army has inflicted heavy losses on ISIL, among them:
„On 28 August, Syrian fighter jets launched a precise attack on an IS HQ in the city of Mohasan, during a meeting between military leaders and sharia judges. The attack resulted in the death of most leaders inside (numbering six), while others were wounded.[20][50] Another airstrike occurred the same day against an IS camp near Baath Dam, killing and wounding dozens of insurgents“
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Eastern_Syria_offensive

And just today the following was reported:
„In Hama province, meanwhile, government forces conducted air strikes on an IS convoy, killing 26 jihadists, including a senior local commander, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said.“
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/contents/afp/2015/03/syria-conflict-is-assyrian.html

So, the only „sham“ and the true shame, Mr. Hammond, is your alarming lack of knowledge with regards to an army that – contrary to yours, the UKs – is fighting the real war on terror, while paying a high price in human blood.

 

Did Bashar forget to „wipe Homs from the map“?

Back in early 2012 Nicolas Sarkozy was pressing for military intervention in Syria to prevent Bashar al Assad from massacring the people of Homs like Ghaddafi wanted to massacre the people of Benghazi. The following article is reminiscent of Sarkozys „warning“ back then:

„Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Sarkozy, “wants to wipe Homs from the map like Qaddafi wanted to wipe Benghazi from the map.”“
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/wiping-out-6832
This was obviously quite a bizarre analogy referring to something (wiping off Benghazi) that actually never happened.

2 years after the allegedly imminent massacre of civilians or as Sarkozy said the wiping off the map of Homs, the Syrian Army drove out the rebels and retook control of the „capital of the revolution“, but interestingly two things occured of which one actually DID NOT happen despite predictions to the contrary:
1. The government forces did NOT massacre the people
2. Instead of fleeing to the „safety“ of „liberated“ rebel-held areas many of Homs´ inhabitants who had fled the city earlier started returning to Homs

Now a flashback to the original siege of Baba Amr in 2011/12:

The entire western news coverage of the siege of Homs´ Baba Amr district was deceptive and polemic serving merely the purpose of demonizing one side of the conflict.
Baseless claims were made to the effect that the Syrian Army was besieging and indiscriminately shelling entire Homs, Syrias 3rd biggest city. BBC ran a report quoting a rebel (or pro-rebel civilian) that in entire Homs only two bakeries were intact.
Taking a look at this map it becomes clear that Baba Amr is a peripheral district of Homs and putting it under siege is by far not tantamount to besieging entire Homs:
https://i2.wp.com/news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/58789000/gif/_58789122_syria_homs_624_v6.gif

 

Is Homs under siege?

Reading the media about Syria one more than once reads about the city of Homs, „the cradle of the revolution“ being under siege by the Syrian army.
Taking a closer look it turns out that not the entire city, but only a relatively small portion of it, the „old city“ is under regime siege:
BBC map of besieged areas in Homs

No question, such a siege is a horror for the ordinary population and certainly it is an unjust act of collective punishment, but one should also keep in mind that the siege is not the result of an evil government simply hating its citizens. Rather the siege is a direct consequence of armed rebels abusing the local population by effectively taking them hostage and turning their houses to firing grounds, hideouts, tunnels, weapons depots and bomb making fabrics.

Syria: military news and BBC interview

Excellent short interview by Bouthaina Shaaban, Assads advisor:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24828294

Western and arab media is interested in exaggerating the role of Iranian ground forces in Syria, but what about this?
„The number of British Islamists who have gone to Syria to fight in the war there is in the „low hundreds“, a senior UK intelligence official says.“
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24856553

„Syrian troops have retaken a key rebel-held town south of Damascus“
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24849809

„Syria troops launch major offensive in Aleppo. Soldiers retake parts of strategic airbase near international airport in northern province.“
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/11/syria-troops-launch-major-offensive-aleppo-201311863542920283.html

„Insurgents Capture a Major Ammunition Depot“
http://eaworldview.com/2013/11/syria-forecast-insurgent-offensive-major-ammunition-depot/

Homs: The massacre that did NOT take place

Sarkozy once pressed for an intervention in Syria when „Assads army“ was pounding the rebel-held Baba Amr district. Sarkozy warned that unless the „international community“ intervenes (militarily) Assad would commit a massacre just as Gaddafi would have done in Benghazi if Nato had not attacked his forces.
Now, warning of a massacre by pointing to a massacre that never occurred is itself ridiculous, but those who have followed the utterances of the likes of Bush, Blair, Sarkozy and co. since the Iraq war (2003) at latest are used to brazen lies and bizarre comparisons.

Now, it seems that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Syrias regular army – which contrary to incorrect mainstream media reports – is predominantly Sunni (including many high ranking commanders such as the defense minister) is „making  key gains in Homs“:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23483717

Homs was given the title „Heart of the revolution“. It is Syrias 3rd largest city with a population between 600.000 and 1,2 million people, predominantly Sunni.
Taking into account these facts and assuming as a „fact“ the rebels claim that they represent the (will of the) majority of (especially Sunni) Syrians, one could (and should) expect two things to happen:
a) (almost) the whole population should rise up in support of the rebels and push back the army, if not even inflict heavy casualties on it
b) the allegedly sectarian SAA will commit against the „civilian population“ the massacre it did NOT commit in February 2012 when it retook Baba Amr

Instead rebel spokesmen are lamenting the purported participation of Hezbollah fighters on the side of the SAA as a major reason for the latters strength. Why and how should a few hundred to few thousand Hezbollah fighters matter when the rebels not only themselves are relying (increasingly) on all kind of arab and non-arab „foreign combatants“ but also supposedly enjoy the backing of Homs´Sunni majority?