Yet Another Video Shows U.S.-Funded White Helmets Assisting Public Executions in Rebel-Held Syria

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By Ben Norton,  a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project and Max Blumenthal, senior editor of the Grayzone Project at AlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah. His most recent book is The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. You can follow Norton on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton and Blumenthal at @MaxBlumenthal. Originally published at Alternet

Syria Civil Defense, popularly known as the White Helmets, can be seen in a new video assisting in a public execution in a rebel-held town in Syria. It is at least the second such execution video featuring members of the Nobel Prize-nominated group.

The White Helmets have received at least $23 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a wing of the State Department. The British Foreign Office and other European governments have pitched in as well.

Frequently cited as an invaluable source of information by major Western media outlets, the group was the subject of an Academy Award-winning 2016 Netflix documentary, The White Helmets.

Endorsements from A-list Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney and Justin Timberlake, as well as Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, have followed.

Large corporate media networks have yet to report on the dark side of the White Helmets, however, and films like the widely celebrated Netflix feature function as uncritical commercials for the group, helping to keep the public in a state of ignorance about the domination of the Western-backed Syrian armed opposition by extremist Salafi jihadist groups, and about the civil conflict in general.

While CNN and other outlets rely heavily on footage taken by White Helmets members, not one major Western media outlet has reported on the latest execution video starring the group’s uniformed members.

The video, which Syrian opposition activists uploaded to Facebook, shows three men from the White Helmets rushing into the center of a crowd, mere seconds after an alleged criminal was shot in the head, and removing the body on a stretcher. A member of the White Helmets can be seen celebrating along with the crowd of onlookers.

WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers.

The men in the video were clearly identified by their signature white helmets, along with vests embroidered with the Syria Civil Defense logo.

The public execution took place in the small city of Jasim, in Syria’s southern Daraa province — which is often described as a hub for “moderate” rebels. Activists posted the video on May 16 on the Facebook page Coordination of the City of Al-Harra, Mother of the Martyrs, a site for the opposition in the neighboring city of Al-Harra.

Two days later, Syria Civil Defense released a carefully crafted statement admitting its members were involved in the execution. The statement noted that a tribal council in Jasim had asked the White Helmets “to humanely dispose of the body of a person that had been sentenced to death, by the local court, for murder.” The group said it had “conducted an investigation” into the execution, and in response dismissed a White Helmet leader, while temporarily suspending two other team members.

Executing an Oscar-Worthy Performance

This is not the first time the White Helmets have appeared as participants in a public execution.

A jarring execution filmed in 2015 in the rebel-held town of Haritan shows two members of Syria Civil Defense waiting just off camera while a member of Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, reads out a death sentence, before shooting a man dressed in street clothes in the head. Seconds later, the White Helmets team tosses the man’s body onto a stretcher and scrambles away.

WARNING: This video features violence that may disturb viewers.

The 2015 video prompted a carefully worded statement by the organization, condemning the killing and claiming its members were simply fulfilling their task by performing “the emergency burial of the dead.”

A British public relations outfit called the Syria Campaign was hired by an influential British-Syrian billionaire, Ayman Asfari, to market the White Helmets to the Western public. As Max Blumenthal has reported for AlterNet, the Syria Campaign was itself the creation of a slick New York City- and London-based public relations firm called Purpose. Among the PR group’s greatest achievements was fundraising for the widely celebrated Netflix documentary.

This year, the makers of the film were awarded with an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. As he received the honor before millions of viewers around the world, director Orlando Einsiedel read a prepared statement from Read al-Saleh, the director of the White Helmets: “Our organization is guided by a verse in the Quran: ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’”

But the execution videos call into question the White Helmets’ claims to act as an impartial, life-saving rescue organization, and raise serious questions about the motives of its funders and promoters within public relations firms and mainstream newsrooms.

‘Hidden Soldiers’ of Al-Qaeda and ISIS?

The White Helmets operate exclusively within the armed Syrian opposition, working closely with al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and even ISIS. The British journalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie inadvertently exposed the group’s relationship with ISIS when he referred to a White Helmets team as “the Islamic State’s fire brigade” in a propaganda video he was forced to participate in.

Videos and photos of White Helmets members posing triumphantly on the corpses of Syrian soldiers and joining fighters in accosting an alleged political opponent have circulated throughout social media.

In March 2015, the extremist-sympathizing opposition media outlet Sarmeen posted a video featuring the White Helmets gleefully joining a chant with Salafi jihadist fighters in Idlib, as they fire a fusillade of bullets into the air.

A member of Syria Civil Defense grabs a flag from one of the militants and begins waving it: a black flag with the shahada in white letters, a common Salafi jihadist symbol, emblazoned with the name of Jaish al-Sunna, an extremist Islamist militia that is allied with Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate and that has reportedly recruited child soldiers with the help of the al-Qaeda-linked fundamentalist Saudi warlord Abdullah al-Muhaysini.

Another upload to YouTube, posted the same day by the rebel media outlet, shows White Helmets joining the extremist militants in songs and chants.

Al-Muhaysini, the ideological leader of Syria’s Salafi jihadist rebels, has repeatedly praised the White Helmets. The Saudi warlord, who has been implicated in numerous war crimes in Syria, including mass executions of captured Syrian soldiers, insisted in an interview that there is no difference between the “mujahideen” (Salafi jihadist fighters) and the White Helmets. He even favorably described Syria Civil Defense members as mujahideen.


In May 2015, a White Helmets member named Muawiya Hassan Agha posted a grotesque video to Facebook (since deleted) that showed extremist Syrian rebels torturing two captured soldiers they later executed. Agha had also been filmed celebrating the capture of Idlib by al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. Rumors circulated that Agha was dismissed from the White Helmets when his involvement in the atrocities came to light.

This March, a leader of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the powerful newly rebranded al-Qaeda-led rebel coalition in Syria, hailed the White Helmets in a special video message as the “hidden soldiers of the revolution.”

For more coverage of the White Helmets scandal, read Max Blumenthal’s two-part investigation here and here, and Gareth Porter’s expose of White Helmets misinformation.

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  1. MoiAussie

    Yves, the second par in the section ‘Hidden Soldiers’ of Al-Qaeda and ISIS? is a messed up twitter block that needs attention. It’s been overquoted so all the html tags have been turned “& lt”, etc.

  2. HBE

    B. From MofA has been all over this for quite some time, nice to see it picked up by the mainstream adjacent (alternet) finally.

    But obviously he and this article are completely wrong. And the Netflix video and George clooney should be trusted without question. /s

    What extremist warzone ever has seen moderate aid workers free to move and do as they please, I’ve yet to see a story of them being attacked or even slightly hassled by the extremist mercenaries, who have absolutely no compunction about civillian execution. Why it’s almost as they are a paid propaganda arm of extremist mercenaries.

    One of MofAs nice walkthrough post on the WH.

    1. b

      Thank you for mentioning that I have been all over this before those Alternet “hipsters” showed up.

      Note that Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton (together with Raina Khalid) have been for years the most ardent supporters of the “rebels” in Syria.

      Max wrote an agree letter to Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese paper that had contracted him for op-eds, when Al-Akhbar rightfully defended the Syrian government position on the Jihadist “rebellion”.
      RNN about that move:

      Now these opportunists have cleaned up their archives, deleted their old tweets and damn the Jihadist they highly praise just two or three years ago.

      I despise these people.

  3. Doncastro

    Just because these men had on official white helmets and vests does not mean they were official members of the white helmet organization. You know better than to suggest otherwise.

    1. Charles R

      Why would the official statements not mention the individuals never were official members when instead the statement, from 18 May 2017 and cited in the article above, states “the individual actions of one member impacts the reputation of all volunteers and the organization as a whole?”

      Why take institutional responsibility for unofficial individual actions and officially discipline those individuals if they are not officially members of an official organization?

    2. Ultrapope

      “Official” members? Its a volunteer organization in the middle of the hellscape that is the Syrian Civil War. I would venture to guess that when they get an interested recruit its more of a “great, here’s a hat and vest” rather than a “contact HR and we’ll get you through the screening process”.

      That being said, I have a huge problem with this section of the article:
      “The British journalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie inadvertently exposed the group’s relationship with ISIS when he referred to a White Helmets team as “the Islamic State’s fire brigade” in a propaganda video he was forced to participate in.”

      John was kidnapped and forced to participate in this video. He said whatever they wanted him to say, whether it was true or not. Think the author really shot himself in the foot by including this as evidence against the white helmets.

  4. Tobin Paz

    The White Helmets keep on winning awards:

    Video Shows Syrian White Helmets Accepting Award From Al-Qaeda

    “With the Syrian revolution going into it’s 7th year, Hay’at Tahreer al-Sham (Nusra) finds that it is its duty to honor the hidden soldiers who spent their days and nights serving their people so it organized an honorary ceremony to give some gratitude to those with the White Helmets.”

  5. johnnygl

    I’d like to pause for a moment and take stock of what is the larger meaning of what episodes like this say about our ruling classes and elites.

    It’s scarcely believable to me at times just how awful these people really are. They’re all willing to actively partake in a project to whitewash, aid and abet AL QAEDA. I mean, really, how awful are you as a person to stay committed to something like this!?!!???

    These are the people who attacked us on 9/11, and their affiliates and the ruling class wants to be clever and use them as a tool for regime change to fight for a patch of desert with little strategic value for us….and for what??!!?? Just to stick it to the russians?!!?! To make israel feel a little less insecure?!??!

    Maybe in the 1980s you could excuse a little naivite about what ‘blockback’ might mean. But there’s just no excuses anymore. The people involved know they’re prepping the ground for future terrorist attacks.

    I marvel at the level of insanity required to believe that supporting jihadis to achieve regime change is a good idea.

    Okay, rant over…thanks for all who’ve read this.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If the global powers stopped meddling in the Middle East, Israel would have to figure out how to get along with its neighbors. And the rest of the neighborhood would have to move away from antisemitism.

      1. JohnnyGL

        There’s meddling, on the one hand. There’s plenty of history behind it, as we nakedcap types generally have some familiarity with. It’s not a pretty history. USG has helped out some really bad dudes (Saddam comes to mind).

        But then there’s supporting Al Qaeda….I continue to marvel at the extraordinary level of moral depravity required to make that a consistent policy for quite a few years now. There’s very clearly NOTHING good that can come of this.

        1. Damson

          …. ‘consistent policy for quite a few years now. :

          It’s worse than that. Much worse.

          Al-Quaeda was created by the CIA to start a Russia – Afghanistan border war, as a strategy to weaken the USSR.

          They were recruited from Pakistan, where the leader was a known medieval barbarian, with a penchant for particularly gruesome despatch.

          Once in place, Brzenski persuaded Jimmy Carter to support the ‘mujahadeen’ as a strategy to lure Brezhnev into an unwinnable quagmire.

          The recruitment from an international pool of mercenaries/takfiris has continued ever since to redraw borders according to the desires of sponsors using nation – state resources for globalist/transnational agendas – especially in the so called ‘security services.’

          Over eighty countries supplied the majority of takfiris to dismember Syria, chief among them, Turks and Checjhens.

          There are even thousands of Chinese Ughurs along the Turkish – Syrian border.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Seems to me that what israel’s Arab and other nearby populations and governments display is not ‘antisemitism,” that wonderword of Hasbara-shield, but anti-Zionist. Not that anyone can claim any moral high ground there in the “Holy Land (sic)”, in most cases.

        And reading in even the Israeli press shows that “Zionism” is no universal adhesive amongst even the Israelis or Jews living elsewhere either. The Israelites aka Likudniks and their adherents and temporary parliamentary alliances have maybe 200 to 400 nuclear weapons all ready to fire off, have taught the Empire the art of impunity and chutzpah when it comes to riding over ‘international law’ and “silly sovereign national boundaries,” and shown how a tiny tail of maybe 3-4 million people can wag a dog numbering 310 million. And set a pretty high standard for massive public and private corruption, protected by Iron Domes of immunity to any kind of restraint or “rule of law.”

        Just another house of cards, waiting for a little breeze to bring it fluttering down — possibly with the exercise of the Samson Option along the way…

    2. Stephen Gardner

      Nice rant. And I agree 100%. I will say however that I think guys like Clooney just do it because the cool kids are doing it and their publicist recommended it. I doubt he has much ideology beyond his own relevance as a “star”. Maybe I’m just jaded but I saw a lot of Brangelina’s charitable work as free publicity to support her image. Public relations dominates the life choices of those who must stay in the public eye. Count on it.

      1. Sluggeaux

        Nice rant!

        Our culture is obsessed with entertainments; as a result we glorify un-educated and intellectually mediocre narcissists like George Clooney, Donald Trump, and every player in MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL, who we elevate to multi-millionaire status for preening and prancing in front of cameras. We equate wealth with worthiness.

        We’re sick. No wonder most Americans seem to accept that “Kalashnikovs for All” is the road to world peace. What could possibly go wrong?

      2. JohnnyGL

        I’ve got no patience for the Hollywood types any more than the ‘deep state’ intel world folks or anyone else involved in this. Celebs have got plenty of resources to put to good use vetting the people involved in these kinds of things. They shouldn’t be praising or endorsing anything without knowing exactly what’s going on. If they legitimately don’t know and they’ve been duped, or if they’re knowingly participating in a whitewashing propaganda campaign, to me, it really doesn’t matter either way.

        It doesn’t take a ton of brain cells to stop for a minute and question about why there are slickly produced documentaries and well-funded PR campaigns only about Syria and there are none about Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, and Afghanistan, etc.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t claim great inside knowledge but I know from someone who works in aid agencies in north Africa that Clooney actually has a good reputation with on the ground people as someone who generally informs himself about the issues he is dealing with and gets his hands dirty behind the scenes (a bit like the late Roger Moore) – he’s not the typical celeb just looking for publicity – at least with regard to his work in Sudan. I suspect this is just an issue outside his area of knowledge that he’s fallen for the establishment line on.

        Perhaps I’m being too easy on him, but I’ve come across quite a few people who would normally be very clued in who have fallen for the White Helmets schtick. It wasn’t until quite recently and I did a bit of digging that I realised just how much of a propaganda construction they are.

        1. Guglielmo Tell

          A suggestion for Clooney: instead of knocking himself out doing political movies or suffering another amnesia attack while shooting a sequel for “Syriana”, tell him to call Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez back to shoot a sequel to “From Dusk Till Dawn”. That bar from hell would be the perfect image today of both Wall Street and Washington.

  6. patrick

    Maybe someone who knows how to get hold of Bernie Sanders (and Justice Democrat Ro Khanna) and set them straight about the farce that is the ‘white helmets’.

  7. DA

    It’s disappointing to see NC circulating Norton’s blinkered, odious and opportunistic “reporting.” As other commenters have noted, the White Helmets are operating in a hell-hole, under essentially constant bombardment for more than six years now, and with the Assad regime and its enablers having committed the vast majority of civilian killings – over 90%. U.S. involvement in the conflict is hardly praiseworthy, but has been widely misunderstood as self-proclaimed “progressives” in the West have recklessly swallowed and perpetuated Assad’s / Russia’s propaganda – because they frankly can’t be bothered to educate themselves about the origins or evolution of the conflict. One would have liked to think that Yves and Lambert were better than that, but I suppose life is full of disappointments.

    For anyone still sufficiently in touch with their humanity and epistemological humility to be willing to read something that is informed, balanced and responsible, they could do worse than to start with this recent piece from Marcus Halaby:

    1. Harry

      Just curious but where did you get your 90% number from? Cos it seems unlikely that the regime is responsible for civilian deaths in areas controlled by ISIS or AQ.

      In addition that figure is not entirely consistent with the increasing support among Syrians for the regime.

      1. DA

        Syrian Network for Human Rights puts the number at 94%: I’m sure there are legitimate questions to be asked about their methodology (presented in detail in the linked report) but that number isn’t pulled out of thin air, and it’s very, very high. If you can provide a plausibly more reliable source that also presents its methodology, I’d be keen to know of it.

        The increasing “support” for the regime among Syrians has to be considered in light of the remarkable lack of political protests in Saudi Arabia, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently found so praiseworthy. I’m not saying that’s the only factor, but you can’t just wave it away as irrelevant after six years of indiscriminate bombing and torture.

            1. Ivan

              Stop spamming idiot. You have made your point. Only a thoroughgoing idiot can make the claim that 90% of civilian deaths are caused by Assad’s forces; when the opposition contains such entities as al-Nusra and ISIS.

            2. Plenue

              The fact that it’s UK based is kind of a big clue. Just like that other obvious MI6 front, the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’, which seldom met a headchopper it couldn’t run cover for. Everyone who reports on Syria who is actually worth a damn is at least based in Lebanon, and frequently actually reports from Syria itself.

    2. Plenue

      “the Assad regime and its enablers having committed the vast majority of civilian killings – over 90%.”


      As far as I’m concerned the truth about who and what the White Helmets are was fully revealed when there wasn’t a single one to be found in East Aleppo after it was liberated. And they were never in West Aleppo or Damascus, which have been under regular bombardment from the ‘moderate rebels’ for years. If they were truly a neutral aid organization, I would expect them to operate wherever civilians are being killed. Yet conspicuously they only ever show up in places jihadi headchoppers control.

      1. DA

        “Yet conspicuously they only ever show up in places jihadi headchoppers control.”

        A remarkable claim from someone with the brain-freezing presumption to demand “evidence” – without, apparently, having the energy to consult Google.

        1. MoiAussie

          Next you’ll be telling us that it must be true that the White Helmets are good guys because you read it in the NYT or WaPo, complete with google link.

    3. Tobin Paz

      The article you pointed out is pure rubbish. Not only is it devoid of any historical context i.e. the United States has been seeking regime change for decades, but it also makes the thoroughly debunked claim (and no less than by the United Nations) that Assad was behind the 2013 Ghouta attack. That alone reveals the author to be either uninformed or a propagandist.

      It also does not mention that the United States is in gross violation of international law by being in Syria and arming and funding rebels/terrorists against a sovereign nation.

      If you truly want to read something factual, start with the following:

      The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn’t

      Here is a little known fact for you, Assad had a higher approval rating than Obama. The Iraqi destruction was based on lies… the Libyan destruction was based on lies… how many more countries need to be destroyed and people killed before you realize that you are being lied to?

      1. Plenue

        I’ve always been dubious of that article. I’ve become very used to doubting the reporting of ‘reputable’ sources like the NYT, so why should I be inclined to trust them on this point? Just because it would bolster my position?

        At this point I very much lean to there having been some genuine protests and unrest against the Assad government, but an unrest in which at least domestic jihadi elements were present from the very beginning, and which foreign powers very quickly hijacked. So it may be true that there was real public dissent against the Syrian government, but it’s also true that, for instance, there was never any uprising in Aleppo City and the ‘rebels’ had to invade the city from the outside.

        The impression I get from there being so many refugees that have fled the country altogether is that there are a very large number of people who have essentially declared ‘a pox on both their houses’ and aren’t willing to fight for Assad, but aren’t willing to live under a bunch of sex-crazed headchoppers either, much less fight for them. But of the people who haven’t fled the country, it seems there are a large number of people who might otherwise be opponents of Assad, but with the choice being between him and the jihadis, they’ve rallied behind him. So I think it’s clear that whatever genuine domestic basis the ‘civil war’ may have at some point had, it’s been completely dominated by fanatics and paid mercenaries for years, probably for the vast majority of the time it’s been going on.

      2. DA

        If you’re so ignorant of the pre-existing political realities of Syria – the one-candidate elections, the torture dungeons, the networks of informers, the ruling-family plundering of the economy – as to see no problems with claims about Assad’s “popularity” prior to events of early 2011, then nothing I can say here will mean anything to you. Go well.

        1. Tobin Paz

          They were external polls conducted post 2011 and throughout Obama’s presidency. I’ll make this easy for you with two questions:

          1. Is the United States, and its allies, legally in Syria?
          2. Is the United States, and its allies, legally funding “rebels” against the sovereign country of Syria?

          If you can’t answer yes to either question then I kindly suggest you stick to a subject you are familiar with.

          1. DA

            Your questions betray your obsession: You think the important questions to be asked about Syria are about the U.S. role. It doesn’t occur to you to ask questions about Syrians. I’ll make this easy for you with two questions:

            1. Do people who come under fire from their ruling regime in response to peaceful protests ( have a right to to take up arms in self defense?
            2. Do people fighting for survival in self-defense who find themselves massively out-gunned have a right to seek financial, military or other support from whatever outside parties are willing to provide it – regardless of whatever compromising agendas those parties may have?

            If you can answer no to either question, then it’s clear you’ll always be prepared to stand with the oppressor, and against the oppressed.

            1. Tobin Paz

              Your narrative quickly falls apart when reality is brought to light. The Western media’s coverage right from of the start of the conflict falsely claimed that Syrians wanted the ouster of Assad when external polls showed that the majority of Syrians supported Assad.

              Even the New York Times and Time reported that Assad had popular support. Little attention was paid to the large pro-government protests. Or that the United States has been planning regime change for decades. Think about that for a second and put it in context of what you are saying.

              Also missing from the Western reporting was that the “protestors” were heavily armed and more police and security forces were killed. The fact that many of these protests were infiltrated by Western “fighters” was completely omitted.

              Former Al-Jazeera reporter Ali Hashem had footage of armed men crossing into Syria from Lebanon. Al-Jazeera refused to air this. Keep in mind that Qatar partially funds Al-Jazeera, wants the overthrow of Assad, and supports ISIS.

              Your questions betray your obsession: You think the important questions to be asked about Syria are about the U.S. role.

              Only a disturbed individual would characterize pointing out that the United States is in clear violation of international law and committing war crimes as an obsession. And why can’t you war crime apologists answer the following questions:

              1. Is the United States, and its allies, legally in Syria?
              2. Is the United States, and its allies, legally funding “rebels” against the sovereign country of Syria?

              You are implictly supporting the rape, beheading of women and children, and wholesale massacre of the Syrian people by Western funded and armed terrorists. Congratulations champ, give yourself a pat on the back.

          2. DA

            BTW, South Africa’s apartheid regime was also “sovereign” so, by your logic, the ANC should have dutifully foresworn all foreign assistance in its struggle to emancipate the country’s majority non-“white” population – opting rather to stand around praying, reading the UDHR and singing Kumbaya, while their families, friends and neighbors were gunned down in the streets, or kidnapped, tortured and killed under cover of darkness. Quite the progressive vision of the world you’ve got there, Tobin Paz.

            It’s really a shame that Yves has allowed her generally very useful website to become complicit in this toxic nonsense.

        2. MoiAussie

          A full awareness of “the pre-existing political realities of Syria” seems to make it possible for you to excuse and support the west’s intervention, acts of undeclared war, carelessness with civilian lives amounting to war crimes, and cultivation of radical islamic terrorists in Syria, not to mention the endless blatant lies and fabricated propaganda trying to justify this and create cause for even more of same.

          The regime in Damascus was not and is not a model of enlightened democratic rule. Everyone who pays attention knows this. Neither was Iraq under Hussein, or Libya under Gaddafi. But none of these countries deserved the intentional destruction wreaked upon them by the west, which cannot ever be justified by pointing the finger at the misdeeds of their governments.

          Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Ukraine, Pakistan, and the US, for that matter, are not models of enlightened democratic rule. All have their torture dungeons (legalised in the US), networks of informers, and ruling-family plundering too. So be consistent and start calling out those countries too, or cease with your regurgitation of western propaganda on Syria.

          1. DA

            Once again the Western-centric obsession with the actions and intentions of the U.S. prevents consideration of anything else; it doesn’t even occur to you to seek to understand the perspective of those who rose against Assad. See my response to Tobin Paz for a corrective. Nowhere have I endorsed U.S. intentions for, or involvement in, Syria; you are simply projecting.

            1. MoiAussie

              I suspect my understanding of the origins of the conflict in Syria predates yours. Understanding the origins is good, but more important is understanding how the conflict has developed over time, and how the goals of the main participants and their backers have evolved. In any case, the original question here is the nature of the White Helmets, and you have offered nothing but an obsession with the origins of the conflict and the misdeeds of Damascus and regurgitated western propaganda to counter the view put forward in the piece.

              1. DA

                Do tell: Who are the “main participants” in the Syrian conflict, in ranked order?

                Please also indicate the criteria used to establish the ranking.

                Thanks in advance.

                1. MoiAussie

                  Notable that your replies now make no pretence of trying to address the issues raised, and have sunk to pure trolling.

                2. Plenue

                  Really? You want to play this game? Okay:

                  The General Situation:

                  A. Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction.
                  B. The Salafist, The Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.
                  C. The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.


                  C. If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

                  – Defense Intelligence Agency Classified Report, August 2012, Acquired via Freedom of Information Act Request by Judicial Watch, 2015

            2. Plenue

              Actually my overriding obsession is that a war that has killed killed many thousands and displaced millions end. It’s quite clear that this ‘civil war’ never had much domestic support, and that support has shrunk further the longer the conflict has gone on. The only reason we’re now in the sixth year of this conflict is because the ‘opposition’ gets extensive foreign aid, both directly from the West and, more often, from Turkey and the Arab Gulf States under diplomatic cover of the West. Western powers are not some minor bit player; they’re crucial to this entire mess.

    4. JohnnyGL

      I checked out your link for a few minutes, and the writer blames Assad for the chemical attack in Al Ghouta. That’s almost definitely NOT true and is a big warning sign that the writer isn’t knowledgeable enough or is trying to mis-inform.

      Also, the writer tries to claim Obama ‘outsourced’ support for rebels to the Gulf States. While that’s true to an extent, how are we to explain how Al Nusra Front/FSA managed to get a hold of hand-held TOW missiles, allowing them to smash Syrian tank regiments throughout 2014-2015 and force Assad to withdraw forces from almost the entire eastern half of the country?

      Maybe it’s the $1bn a year program to arm Syrian “rebels”?

      I’d humbly suggest you skip the link that you’ve suggested, and read more from what I’ve linked and more from Sy Hersh on this topic. “Who’s Sarin” and “The Red Line and the Rat Line” would be a couple of good stories to start with.

      If Sy Hersh alone isn’t enough to make you ask hard questions about who used chem weapons, here’s MIT prof Theodore Postol writing for the NYT….

        1. Plenue

          I guess it needs to be reiterated that Seymour Hersh made his name with two key stories. The first was the outrageous, offensive claim that US soldiers had massacred hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians in cold blood. He was 100% correct. The next was the even more outrageous, downright insane claim that the Nixon White House was running a vast conspiracy to secretly carpet bomb Cambodia, complete with an entire parallel chain of command and fake paperwork to hide the entire operation from Congress. This story was orders of magnitude greater in outlandishness and complexity than anything else he ever reported in his career. It was also 100% correct. Just as he was with every other story in his career. Seymour Hersh has nothing to prove to make me trust him.

          The only one pathetic and disgraceful here is you. And no one here is taking what you’re offering, so you best go and earn your paycheck elsewhere.

          1. DA

            Hersh was once a formidable reporter – which makes his recent senescence all the more lamentable. Or, in your world, does no one every grow old?

            The fact that you’ve chosen to ignore Idrees’ detailed exposé of Hersh’s decline is duly noted, with regret.

    5. zapster

      Evidence against the White Helmets has been mounting. Many of their ‘rescues’ are staged–they’re in no danger at all. And even where there has been an attack, they only help the jihadis, not normal Syrians–as was seen in the video of the bus bombing that happened recently. They’re an arm of Al Nusra, a propaganda production company, not a real emergency aid group at all.

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