Syria: The First Casualty

The following excellent article was written by Joe Giambrone in 2012 but is still highly relevant and a crucial aid to understanding the propaganda strategy employed by the Empire and its stenographers in the corporate media towards Syria:

The big lie concerning Syria is the most significant and outrageous myth that we are living under today.  As previous big lies fade into history, this particular crisis holds the most potential to flare up into a life-ending catastrophe across the planet.  Russia has now approved a shipment of attack helicopters to their ally Syria, and China remains highly skeptical of the western narrative regarding the massacre of women and children in Houla. Iran has offered to come to the aid of Assad in fighting the various Sunni militias, which have opened up multiple fronts across rural parts of the country.

In Military-Industrial-Media-Speak the president of Syria, Bashar Assad, is a “butcher” who massacres his own people, defenseless “activists” and “protesters” who cry out for his ouster across Syria; if only the benevolent western democracies would send more weapons and money to destroy the Syrian army, on their behalf, the world would be right again.  This lie has been exposed numerous times, and yet persists as if previous revelations had never occurred.  This requires a gullible, amnesic public that refuses to dig beyond surface headlines and corporate perception management.

Armed foreign fighters have been perpetrating a coordinated military assault on Syria since March of 2011.

Back in the middle of March, 2011, while the world’s press was enraptured by the uprising in Egypt, clashes in Daraa, Syria led to violence.  Not covered by US news sources, but reported in Israel and Lebanon, are the following facts on the ground:

Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday… On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and injuring as many as 100 others…  In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the government offered to release the detained students, but seven police officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday. (Israel National News, Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)

Jump ahead to May of 2011 (13 months ago), and Al Jazeera’s reporter in Lebanon runs into blatant censorship by his own employer.  The Qatari media organization disallows the broadcast of video footage showing heavily-armed fighters crossing the border from Lebanon into Syria.  Ali Hashem and other journalists at Al Jazeera, Lebanon, will resign in protest because of this blatant cover-up of a military incursion.  Al Jazeera’s reputation as an impartial news source is forever damaged.

A terror campaign then launches, by the armed opposition fighters, who use bombs, snipers and sabotage.

7/24/11 – Saboteurs blow up and derail a passenger train from Aleppo, Syria

8/14/11 – Report that NATO plans to send large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns to the Syrian rebels

12/23/11  – Syrian government blames al-Qaida after two car bombs kill dozens in Damascus

By December of 2011 Reuters reports:

“The United Nations says at least 4,000 people have died, with about a quarter of the dead from the security forces.” (Reuters, UK, Dec. 8, 2011, emphasis added)

That’s some so-called “protest movement” that can kill 1,000 armed police and soldiers.  Of course it was nothing of the kind.  Protest was the premeditated cover story to launch an aggressive, pre-planned assault against the Assad regime.

Western news media have relied extensively on the impressively named Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. This steadfast organization, according to Reuters, consists of one guy who runs a clothing shop in Coventry, England.  For some reason calling oneself the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights entices the world’s corporate press to call in 24 hours a day seeking counsel.  That’s how it’s worked out so far for Rami Abdulrahman.

Perhaps I should set up the American Monitoring Station of International Bullshit?  The US press clearly needs the guidance.  Even this week the Christian Science Monitor used Rami Abdulrahman as a “source” of what’s happening on the ground in Syria, printing his speculation as an eyewitness account.  He lives in London.

“[Rami Abdulrahman] said the use of tanks and attack helicopters to smash residential buildings and city infrastructure indicated they wanted to destroy areas, not just chase out rebels.” (CS Monitor,  UN Monitors find stench of death in Syrian town, 6/14/2012)

The CS Monitor is forced to concede further escalating violence by the rebels as well, even as its language attempts to paint the Syrian government as the party most responsible, relying on unverifiable “activists” repeatedly.

“Car bombings and suicide bombings have become increasingly common as the 15-month uprising against Assad becomes militarized [sic]. Most have targeted security buildings and police buses, symbols of Assad’s regime.”

The big lie that the “militarization” of the conflict is new gets repeated across western media.  The insurgents have targeted government buildings and personnel back in March of 2011.  Despite bombings and shootings being commonplace in Syria for over one year, the western press continually insists that it is just now becoming militarized.  This refrain appears in most U.S. news coverage of Syria.

Operation Syria Well Underway

The voice of the empire, The Washington Post, with its curious Goebbels-approved masthead font, admits:

“Classified U.S. diplomatic cables [via Wikileaks] show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the [Syrian opposition] group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other [unspecified] activities inside Syria…  The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005… ‘It is unclear to what extent [Syrian] intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations,’ the [State Department] cable stated, referring to funding from the U.S. government.” (The Washington PostU.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show, April 17, 2011) (emphasis added)

From the horse’s mouth: “proxy organizations” and “USG money,” since 2005-6.  But we can look back further in time, much further and find some curious Cold War strategic planning from Uncle Sam regarding Syria.

CIA and SIS [British MI6] should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension,” reads the “preferred plan” for regime change in Syria, dating back to 1957 and approved by president Dwight D. Eisenhower!  Back when Syria was the Soviet Union’s ally on the Mediterranean, the CIA and MI6 studied the problem and came up with actionable options for western war makers.

 “Driving the call for action was the CIA’s Middle East chief Kermit Roosevelt [who overthrew Mossadegh in Iran in 1953]…  ‘Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals…’  The plan called for funding of a ‘Free Syria Committee’, and the arming of ‘political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities’ within Syria.” (UK Guardian,  Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan, Sept. 26, 2003) (emphasis added)

Anything sound familiar?  How about this:

“Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.” (Operation NorthwoodsUS Joint Chiefs of Staff, March 13, 1962)

By February 2012, we have Israeli reports of foreign special forces inside Syria in violation of the UN Charter, a clear war crime:

“British and Qatari special operations units are operating with rebel forces under cover in the Syrian city of Homs just 162 kilometers from Damascus, according to debkafile’s exclusive military and intelligence sources… They are tactical advisers, manage rebel communications lines and relay their requests for arms, ammo, fighters and logistical aid to outside suppliers, mostly in Turkey.” (DebkafileFirst foreign troops in Syria back Homs rebels. Damascus and Moscow at odds, February 2012)

The Incident at Houla, Syria

Numerous civilians were killed on May 25, 2012 in Al-Houla, Syria.  Immediately, the Assad regime was blamed (as always) by the opposition public relations sources, those so-called “activists.”  The Syrian government’s artillery fire was noted by the United Nations.   The world’s press picked up on this opposition “activist” story, and soon the Syrian ambassadors were booted out of the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Exactly like a rehearsed and coordinated bit of political theater.

Corporate news continues to blame the Assad government for the Houla killings with the caveat usually included somewhere in the propaganda article that the claims are unverified and that investigations haven’t concluded.

Then a Russian news team investigated exactly who was killed, how and why. This investigation was followed by a German investigation by FAZ, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, and both reports come to a very different conclusion than that of the “activists.”  While the murders of women and children were brutal, barbaric and disgusting, it is the perpetrators that matter here. The civilians were not killed by artillery shells, but by small arms fire and/or knives.  They were not killed because of their opposition to the regime, but were families known for supporting Assad.  Several were Shiite living in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood.  The investigations reveal much.

“Note that once, the exactly same provocation failed at Shumar (Homs) and 49 militants and women and children were killed, when it was organized just before a visit of Kofi Annan. The last provocation was immediately exposed as soon as it became known that the bodies of the previously kidnapped belonged to Alawites. This provocation also contained serious inconsistencies – the names of those killed were from people loyal to the authorities, there were no traces of bombings, etc.” (Center for Research on Globalisation (translation)THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government”, Marat Musin, 6/1/2012)

Essentially, a small hamlet in Syria was invaded by “up to 700” insurgent fighters.  They attacked three government check posts in a lengthy battle, where the army returned artillery fire.  A contingent of these terrorists then went house to house seeking out political opponents and massacred the entire families of those who were still loyal to the government or who had converted from Sunni to Shiite Islam.

“When the rebels seized the lower checkpoint in the center of town… they began to sweep all the families loyal to the authorities in neighboring houses, including the elderly, women and children. Several families of the Al-Sayed were killed, including 20 young children and the family of the Abdul Razak. Many of those killed were ‘guilty’ of the fact that they dared to change from Sunnis to Shiites.”

They collected bodies and claimed that the victims were killed by army shelling, which was obviously not consistent with forensic analysis, nor with reality.

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) confirmed this Russian account of the Houla atrocities on June 7th.  The murdered families are named and described in more detail.

“Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine ZeitungAbermals Massaker in Syrien, 6/7/2012; Translation)

Previously German newspaper Der Spiegel published an interview with the Syrian rebels’ executioner and his death squad named the “burial brigade.”

“According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.” (Der SpiegelAn Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story, 3/29/2012)

The bulk of these “traitors” are likely Syrian civilians who remained loyal to the government.  Their deaths prompt no international outrage or crocodile tears, however.

After the artillery fire murder story of May 25th was found completely meritless, the claim regarding Houla shifted so that a pro-Assad militia called “Shabiha” must be the perpetrator.  This claim then went around the world without any evidence to support it, whatsoever.  It remains the quasi-official narrative, despite the identities and affiliations of the victims now divulged by Russian and German news media.  The murdered families were pro-government and a parliamentarian who was considered a traitor by the Sunnis, quite inconsistent with murder by a pro-government militia, yet very much consistent with a self-admitted rebel “burial brigade.”

Of course CNN asks “analysts” about the situation and we find that:

“Many [Shabiha] have shaved heads and sport thick black beards. The beards are a confusing touch, Weiss said, because they ‘want to look like Salafists’ so people will think they are the fundamentalist Sunnis they dislike and blame for violence.” (CNNRegime-backed militia does Syria’s ‘dirty work,’ analysts say, 6/7/2012)

So, when Salafist Jihadis actually do what they openly admit to doing, it can conveniently be blamed on Assad’s alleged militia?  This story has been through the looking glass for so long, there is little chance that an honest assessment can be found anywhere in the western media.

Who Are These Rebels?

At the end of January, 2012 the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria produced its report, which was swiftly buried because it did not adhere to the narrative spun by western “leaders.”  The well-armed, violent nature of the insurgency was described more clearly.  Thus, the observer mission was recalled from Syria so that they would not produce any more unhelpful evidence, unhelpful to those seeking regime change, which is a breach of the UN Charter and a war crime.

The Arab observers reported:

“The Mission noted that the [Syrian] Government strived to help it succeed in its task and remove any barriers that might stand in its way… The Mission noted that many [opposition] parties falsely reported that explosions or violence had occurred in several locations. When the observers went to those locations, they found that those reports were unfounded… the media exaggerated the nature of the incidents and the number of persons killed in incidents and protests in certain towns… Some media outlets have published unfounded statements, which they attributed to the Head of the Mission. They have also grossly exaggerated events, thereby distorting the truth.” (Report of the Head of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria for the period from 24 December 2011 to 18 January 2012)

Distorting the truth, mischaracterizing the situation, and lying to the world were exposed.  As was the actual violence on the ground perpetrated by the rebels.  Clearly Russia and China, India, Venezuela and Cuba can read plain English and are not reliant upon U.S. and western corporate news lies for their intelligence concerning the Syrian situation.

Immediately the U.S. pushed for a UN Security Council vote to unleash NATO on Syria, as it had bombed Libya the previous year and aided in the massacre of tens of thousands of Libyan civilians.  On February 4th of this year both China and Russia vetoed imperial plan A.  No UN blessing would be bestowed on this war against the Syrian regime.  Hillary Clinton called the vetoes “disgusting and shameful,” although she finds herself on the same side as Al Qaeda in Syria.  What is disgusting and shameful here?

The Arab observers had already exposed the nature of the conflict on the ground in Syria:

“In Homs and Dera’a… armed groups committing acts of violence against Government forces, resulting in death and injury among their ranks… some of the armed groups were using flares and armour-piercing projectiles… In Homs, Idlib and Hama… acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring othersincluding women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed... Such incidents include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army [the main opposition group] and some by other armed opposition groups. (emphasis added)

Disgusting and shameful are appropriate descriptions, but this is the covert insurgent force being described, not the Syrian government troops.  The same rebels that Hillary Clinton now admits to sending money, medicine and so-called “nonlethal” war material like tactical battlefield radios.  Clinton and U.S. Government denials of active participation in the Syrian insurgency are ludicrous on their face.  It is U.S. allies in the region who are the main suppliers of arms and money to the insurgents and the terrorist groups operating today in Syria.  These nations include Britain, France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; NATO is, of course, dominated by the United States; Israel is certainly not a disinterested party either.

Libyan rebels are also involved in Syria, including the former head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a group on the State Department’s terrorist list!

“Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, ‘met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,’ said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. ‘Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.’” (UK TelegraphLeading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group, 11/27/2011)

As far as the success story that is NATO’s unlawful assault on Libya, we have seen the Al Qaeda black flag flying over the court house in Benghazi, Libya.  Rep. Kucinich noticed this glitch in the system, and asked what the hell was going on in Washington?

“On one hand we have soldiers dying in Afghanistan fighting Al Qaeda.  On the other hand we just helped a group of people take over Libya, and the Al Qaeda flag is flying over their capital city headquarters… It’s time for America to get its story and its priorities straight…” (Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), 11/6/2011, Youtube)

America might just enforce the laws of the land against government officials who give material support to terrorist groups.


Western publics have missed the fact that the Assad government called for a new constitution and elections earlier this year in an attempt to defuse the situation and open up the process for more citizen participation.  This political option was completely unacceptable to the fanatical rebel factions who not only boycotted the elections but kidnapped candidates so they could not participate.  This gives some idea of the type of “democracy” these groups seek.  The referendum passed with 89% approval inside Syria, despite the nation being under siege from highly trained and heavily armed insurgents on multiple fronts.  A poll earlier this year showed that Bashar Assad retains 55% approval among Syrians, meaning he would remain president in a democratic contest, yet this is completely ignored in the Western press, which seems more comfortable siding with Al Qaeda type Jihadis and mercenaries paid for by gulf monarchies.

In a case of hypocrisy that George Orwell could appreciate, we have absolute tyrant kings in Saudi Arabia and Qatar preaching democracy – for Syrians.  And not just preaching, but putting their money, their arms and their souls on the line.  This is coordinated by U.S. allies, and this flagrant attack on a sovereign state continues, primarily because of western support and propaganda.

The case is very clear that a coordinated, multi-pronged and covert terror war has been massacring civilians and government troops across Syria for well over one year.  The Syrian troops have responded with lethal force, as any other government on the planet would naturally do under identical conditions.  Recall that the UN estimated about 1,000 Syrian soldiers and police killed as of last December.  Evidence has been suppressed of an illegitimate insurgency armed, trained and funded from outside of Syria waging a dirty war in order to provoke an even greater international assault on the Syrian state, along the lines of the Libyan model, and to force the illegitimate and unlawful goal of regime change.  Even regime change, a clear breach of the UN Charter, Article 2, and a war crime, is misrepresented to the western populations as if this was a legitimate political action for governments to pursue against whichever state they decide to target.

So many media lies have been exposed, which mischaracterize the situation on the ground, as exposed in the Arab League Observer Report, that western media cannot be trusted to tell the truth on this (or most other) issues.  Unreliable information intensifies an already dangerous situation, as nuclear powers face off in a high-stakes proxy war for control of the Middle East and access to ports and energy reserves.  This is a new chapter in the Great Game of world conquest, but it is not analyzed and interpreted accurately by the targets of these psychological operations, the western publics.

Originally published (

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