In her coverage of the assault on Damascus, the Washington Post’s Liz Sly provided a prime example of how this media whitewashing works: Sly did not even mention Tahrir al-Sham’s links to al-Qaeda, referring to the group simple as « extreme. » She also described a U.S.-vetted FSA faction that was fighting alongside rebranded al-Qaeda, Faylaq al-Rahman, as « moderate. »
Another disturbing development that has been virtually ignored by U.S. mainstream media are the videos of Tahrir al-Sham and the FSA-affiliated Jaish al-Izza, which is fighting alongside rebranded al-Qaeda in the Hama offensive, attacking the Syrian army with TOW anti-tank missiles, which were manufactured by the American weapons company Raytheon and supplied to CIA-vetted rebels.
Echoing Western governments’ extensive support for armed rebels committed to overthrowing the Syrian government, Western media outlets have for years consistently downplayed the influence of extremists in the Syrian opposition.
Recent reports continue this trend. Headlines on the jihadist offensives in Hama and Damascus refer to sectarian extremist fighters ambiguously as « Syrian rebels, » and articles bury the extremists’ ties to al-Qaeda several paragraphs down in the story, where most readers, who simply skim headlines and leads, do not tread.
AlterNet analyzed numerous reports in major outlets and detailed how they have egregiously understated the role of al-Qaeda-linked militants in the recent attacks in Syria — while, at the same moment, fueling paranoia about infrequent attacks in the West.