Two April attacks, two weeks apart, exposed the moral hypocrisy and depravity of mainstream Western media reporting on the war in Syria.
In one instance, more than 100 civilians, including 80 children, fleeing Shia-majority villages that have been besieged for two-year by al-Qaeda and its extremist allies were massacred in a suicide bombing.
In the other, dozens of civilians were killed in an alleged chemical attack that the U.S. and its allies immediately blamed on the Syrian military, although no solid evidence of this has been presented, and experts have questioned whether or not the Syrian military was really responsible.
The former attack, in the rebel-held town of Rashidin on the outskirts of Aleppo, was even bloodier, yet Western reporters seemed to strain themselves to cover it at all. The identity of its likely culprits — hard-line Salafi jihadist Syrian rebels who have for years been empowered by the U.S. and its allies — were omitted by major news outlets, and the victims were reduced to mere « regime supporters. »
Some pro-rebel pundits even tried to pin the suicide bombing (a favored tactic of extremist rebels) on the Syrian government, implying it bombed its own Shia supporters while they fled al-Qaeda, presumably just for fun.
By contrast, the preceding attack, in Khan Sheikhoun in the al-Qaeda-dominated province of Idlib, was on the front page of every newspaper. It was broadcast throughout the world, and used to justify a U.S. missile attack on the Syrian government, which destroyed some 20 percent of its planes, according to the Pentagon.
Details about both attacks were unclear. But media outlets, which often uncritically echo the U.S. State Department, jumped to conclusions about the tragedy in Idlib, and justified the Trump administration’s missile strike. The tragedy in Aleppo, on the other hand, was reduced to a mere « hiccup, » if it was even covered at all.
What explains the lack of attention on these villages, and the butchered reporting on the suicide bombing? They contradict the regime change propaganda the U.S. government and its allies have spread for years on the war in Syria. They inconveniently complicate the simplistic narrative that the Syrian government is the pure embodiment of evil, responsible for all civilian casualties, and the rebels are « moderate, » freedom-loving democrats.
The Rashidin massacre and the siege on al-Fua and Kefraya expose a harsh truth of the war on Syria: there is a strong contingent of the rebels that consists of murderous fundamentalists with a genocidal hatred of Shia and other religious minorities, and who would ethnically cleanse all of the diverse country if they could, as ISIS has tried to do.
The incredibly shoddy reporting on the incidents show that, while it is certainly true that the Syrian government has committed war crimes, the war crimes also committed by the extremist Salafi jihadist militants who dominate the opposition have been grossly downplayed.
When the White House released a brief deport accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons at Khan Sheikhoun, a prominent arms expert accused the Trump administration of « politicizing » the intelligence.
« I have reviewed the [White House’s] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack, » wrote Theodore Postol, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a withering assessment.
Postol, who has previously served as a scientific advisor at the Department of Defense, added that the source the White House used in its report « was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited. »
The expert’s report was ignored by the vast majority of major English-language media outlets.
In 2013, hundreds of Syrians were killed in a sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria, in the suburbs around the capital, Damascus. The U.S. government and its allies, once again, immediately blamed the attack on the Syrian government. The Obama administration was on the verge of using the attack to carry out regime change in Syria, at it had two years before in Libya (with utterly disastrous, bloody results). Yet it did not go all the way — and President Obama later admitted that the intelligence the U.S. had at the time was not solid.
Since then, reports by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, citing U.S. government reports and intelligence officials, have exposed how it was likely that the Ghouta attack was actually carried out by Syrian al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, not the government, using weapons the extremist group obtained from NATO member Turkey.
Then there was Theodore Postol, the arms expert called into question the U.S. intelligence on the Ghouta attack as well. He published another report, along with former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd, concluding that, based on the information the Obama administration provided, the range of the rocket used in the chemical attack was not long enough to have been fired by the Syrian government.
What’s more, many of the pro-rebel groups Western media outlets cited as supposed impartial observers of incidents in Syria have in fact received funding and support from the American and British governments and their allies. The Aleppo Media Center, for instance, has been funded by the French governmentthrough its Syria Media Incubator.