I don’t know any of the details yet, but the Syrian Kurdish YPG has arrested the director of the White Helmets/Syria Civil Defence and closed their offices in Afrin.
The men of Kafranbel are very upset.
I wonder what Philip Hammond thinks of this – the head of a British-backed ‘humanitarian’ group bring arrested by another group the UK apparently supports?
There have been other reports recently regarding fighting between the YPG and Western-backed factions in Aleppo; It is difficult to see how Syria can ever return to a sense of normality with so many different groups fighting among one another.
Ahrar al-Sham, Nusra and their FSA allies shelled Sheikh Meqsud in northern Aleppo yesterday evening and this morning. #TwitterKurds#Syria
The British Foreign Office has spent at least £2.5 million on what it calls ‘search and rescue’ in Syria, stating in a public document on non-humanitarian aid to the country:
To date, twelve 25-man civil defence teams from towns in Idlib
province have received UK-funded training and equipment to carry
out fire-fighting and search & rescue to help save lives. Over the
next six months, additional teams across Northern Syria will be
trained thanks to UK support.
These ‘civil defence teams’ are the White Helmets, which as I have previously written function alongside takfiri groups such as Jahbat al-Nusra; appearing in their propaganda videos and helping them carry out executions. The group are presented as being a completely neutral actor, with their website proclaiming:
The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of “Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality” as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation. This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved – so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.
The White Helmets mostly deal with the aftermath of government air attacks. Yet they have risked sniper fire to rescue bodies of regime soldiers to give them a proper burial.
Russian involvement has galvanised rebels from across the ideological spectrum, accelerating defections to Jabhat al Nusra, and sending ripples of anger through the rebel opposition.
On Saturday, the strikes appeared to hit a rescue team in the northwestern province of Idlib. 29 year old Issam al-Saleh was killed in a follow-up air strike as his team searched for survivors from the first.
After defecting from the regime along with his six brothers, Mr Saleh had spent 18 months working with the White Helmets, a team of first responders that has been described as among the bravest in the world.
“Russian and Assad officers will be accounted in the ICC for their crimes against humanity,” said Mr Saleh’s cousin and the leader of the White Helmets, Raed al Saleh.
It is unclear how such people can claim impartiality, and it seems that the Foreign Office has little concern with making such assertions, having tweeted last week:
Therefore publicly establishing that the White Helmets work on behalf of the British government and the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ (with the opposition really being nothing more than Western intelligence assets to begin with). As one of the main participants working tirelessly to militarily overthrow the Syrian state for the last several years, neither the UK nor the groups it sponsors can in any way be considered as impartial actors in the conflict.
Raed al Saleh, noted in The Telegraph as the group’s leader, has given numerous speeches to the UN, US Congress etc agitating for a no-fly zone to stop ‘the regime’. You can read examples by Googling his name.
The real purpose of the White Helmets project is to provide a constant stream of ‘barrel bomb’ propaganda to Western audiences (sometimes with added chlorine), thus providing a myth which – similar to the myth of the ‘African mercenary’ in Libya 2011 – can be invoked to justify ‘humanitarian intervention’.
Then, in several years time, despite what was once the Syrian Arab Republic remaining engulfed in war and poverty, Western governments can justify – even boast – about attacking the country because they stopped the regime from committing genocide via barrel bomb; with no one pausing to question which particular group the Syrian government and their armed forces were trying to exterminate.
Supposed ‘human rights activists’ are constantly shrieking that there is a genocide taking place in Syria. I once read that we shouldn’t be concerned about a possible future genocide of Alawites when there is currently a genocide of Sunnis going on right now. Yet a majority of the Syrian army is Sunni, and importantly, are actually Syrians; whereas a large majority of the opposition are not Syrian at all. Therefore the reality of the war is in fact the opposite of what the media has been making it out to be for years: of the Syrian people fighting a dictator; that Assad is ‘killing his own people’.
Noam Chomsky once noted:
As for the term ‘genocide,’ perhaps the most honorable course would be to expunge it from the vocabulary until the day, if it ever comes, when honesty and integrity can become an ’emerging norm.’
And so the same can be said of the word ‘neutral’, where now those very same nations who have been investing billions of dollars in destroying Syria seem to think that they can be viewed as honest peace brokers, and groups such as the White Helmets, who are so clearly working on behalf of the opposition, are able to claim that they are not supporting either side.
The US and its poodle the UK are in need of a good dose of reality: perhaps Russia’s intervention in Syria can bring them back down to earth, as this exceptionalist propaganda isn’t fooling anyone anymore.
The White Helmets, or ‘Syrian Civil Defence’, claim to be a private non-profit company registered in the UK.
They call themselves:
A global advocacy group standing in solidarity with non-violent Syrians and their struggle for a peaceful and dignified future.
They began their campaign 3 years into the Syrian insurgency…just when the Syrian army’s luck seemed to be on the upside…
We started on the 3rd anniversary of the uprising at a time when Syria was slipping off the media and political agendas of countries around the world. The violence has never been as fierce as it is now or the humanitarian needs as great. Now more than ever the world needs to engage on Syria.
They only seem to operate in areas controlled by the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda) such as Idlib…
and can be seen here cleaning up after a Nusra execution in Aleppo…
They were standing right off-camera with a body-bag at the ready.
Here they can be seen jubilantly waving the Nusra black flag…
and here (minus a White Helmet uniform) holding a weapon:
This time in uniform and armed:
Who are they?
The Syria Campaign’s four listed ‘campaigners’ have worked for companies such as the BBC and Avaaz – both known for their rabid anti-Syria propaganda. The BBC disgraced itself with its ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ episode of Panorama (see Fabrication in BBC Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children for more details), as well as numerous other outright lies on the conflict,
and Avaaz for its countless petitions calling for a no-fly zone.
Basically they are what is now par for the course in these imperialistic proxy interventions: a shadowy non-governmental organisation funded by governments and their corporate cronies, and passing themselves off as being motivated solely by altruism. It was a letter signed by dozens of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch that resulted in the UN Security Council voting to implement a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011, based on wild claims which all turned out to be false. We know how that turned out; unleashing a similar hell on the whole of Syria would be far worse.