Author: Eva Bartlett

Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed Rebels Target ‘Every Syrian’: War diary by Western journalist Eva Bartlett on the truth about Aleppo

On Oct. 20 and again on Nov. 4, the Syrian government and Russia opened eight humanitarian corridors established for civilians and militants who wished to flee terrorist-held areas of eastern Aleppo, including militants who wished to surrender their weapons under amnesty. However, no one left on Nov. 4. Many residents within eastern Aleppo have said they are being held hostage and used as human shields by terrorists who shoot upon people attempting to leave through the humanitarian corridors. [Photo by Eva Bartlett, Nov. 4, 2016]

 
‘We were living in security and peace. These areas are being targeted, they want to force us to leave. Every Syrian is being targeted,’ one Syrian religious leader told a delegation of reporters who visited Aleppo earlier this month.

By @EvaKBartlett |

MintPressNews (on Facebook) (republished at: Global Research, SOTT)

In early November, Fares Shehabi, a member of the Syrian parliament from Aleppo, organized a trip to Aleppo for 13 Western journalists, including myself, with security provided by forces in the Syrian Arab Army.While I had traveled to Aleppo independently as recently as July and August, for many others in the delegation, it was their first visit to the city or their first visit since the war on Syria began in 2011.

On previous visits to Aleppo, I met with the Aleppo Medical Association and saw a maternity hospital hit twice by rocket and mortar attacks by militants under Jaysh al-Fatah (the Army of Conquest), a loose alliance of anti-government terrorist groups. I met with members of a branch of the Syria Civil Defense and Christian and Muslim religious leaders. Just north of the city, I visited Nubl and Zahraa, towns besieged for more than three years by the Free Syrian Army, the Nusra Front, and other affiliated terrorist factions before the Syrian Arab Army drove them out in February of this year. I saw the liberated region of Bani Zaid and the al-Layramoun industrial district. I interacted with civilians in public parks, streets, and markets.

Ahead of my trip earlier this month, I was interested to see what might have changed following the liberation of still more areas by the SAA. I also hoped to speak with civilians who had fled the terrorist-held areas of Aleppo’s eastern districts since I had last visited, during which time eight humanitarian corridors had been established for civilians and members of terrorist factions willing to relinquish their arms or to accept safe passage to areas in Idlib and government-secured parts of western Aleppo.

However, on Nov. 4, no one fled terrorist-held areas of Aleppo. Family members of civilians still there say their loved ones are being used as human shields by groups like the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, or Nour al-Din al-Zenki — the so-called “moderate rebels” and “opposition forces” backed by the United States, NATO, Israel and Gulf allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Returning to Aleppo

Homes opposite the terrorist car bombing blast in al-Zahra'a, Homs © Eva Bartlett

From Damascus, the bus traveled along smooth, paved roads to Homs, where we passed the entrance to Zahraa, a neighborhood plagued by terrorist car and suicide bombs. Moving out of Homs, we continued eastward along a narrow road for about an hour until we reached the Ithriya-Khanasser road, and the last leg of the trip to Aleppo.

Though the Ithriya-Khanasser road was flanked by the wreckage of buses and cars, attacked mostly by Da’esh (an Arabic acronym for the extremist group commonly referred to in the West as ISIS or ISIL) in recent years, and although Da’esh continues to creep onto sections of the road at night to lay mines, our travel there was without incident.

When I reached the southeastern suburb of Ramouseh in July, it was by taxi. The driver sped through the suburb, fearing Nusra Front snipers less than a kilometer away. He floored it for at least 500 meters, speeding through risky spots and weaving in and out of a valley in perfect range of terrorist shellings, ultimately reaching an SAA checkpoint before entering Greater Aleppo.

Castello Road was only means of entering Aleppo in August. The road, which runs into the northern part of the city, had recently been secured but still threatened by terrorist shelling.

Ramouseh was re-secured prior to our November visit, and again became the main means of entering Aleppo. In November, we traveled by bus, escorted by security, and the threat of snipers was weakened by SAA advances in recent months. Above the sniper embankment of barrels and sandbags, I had a clearer view toward Sheikh Saeed district — areas which terrorist factions had long occupied and from which they sniped and shelled Ramouseh.


*Ramouseh road when leaving Aleppo, Nov 2016.

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Overview of latest month-long visit to Syria (Aleppo and Damascus)

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*Nov 4, Castello road humanitarian crossing, shelled twice when I was there, and another 5 times, on a day meant to be for civilians to exit terrorist-occupied areas of Aleppo. No one exited.

This is a brief update to say I’ve recently left Syria (two days ago) after a month there (My sixth visit since my first eye-opening visit in April 2014). Articles to follow include interviews from two latest trips in November to Aleppo, as well as in Damascus, including:

ALEPPO VISITS:

From November 2-5, I joined a group of Western journalists for my third trip to Aleppo since July, during which time we:

-Met with Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi, head of the Chamber of Industry, who briefed us on Turkey’s assault on and theft of Aleppo industries and Aleppo in general, and arranged for visits to important areas of the city.

-With Rev. Ibrahim Nseir and MP Shehabi, went to neighborhoods devastated by terrorists’ shelling over the years; met with Christian and Muslim religious leaders who spoke love and unity, and very definitively against terrorism and for the sovereignty of Syria.

-Met with directors of al-Razi hospital and were there, and at the morgue, when some of the over 200 wounded and 18 martyred from the day’s terrorist bombings and snipings arrived on Nov 3. Account of that day of terror attacks and some of the victims on this post.

-Went to Bustan al-Qasr and Castello road humanitarian corridors on Nov 4 when Syrians (and Russians) did everything in their power to enable civilians to leave terrorist-occupied areas to the safety of government-secured greater Aleppo. Efforts were foiled by terrorists. Castello road crossing was hit by two terrorist-fired mortars while there, the second less than 100 m away from where I was giving an interview to Syrian TV. Fuller account on this post.

 

-Visited liberated Bani Zeid and Lairamoun (which I’d visited in August), seeing an FSA underground prison, the remnants of terrorists’ manufacturing of Hell Canon gas canister bombs, and more.

-Visited a centre housing Syrians displaced from eastern areas of Aleppo and sheltering for the past 4 years in government-secured greater Aleppo.

POST CONTINUES

Syria Interviews with Sean Stone on Watching the Hawks

Two parts to an interview done with Sean Stone on Watching the Hawks in October, 2016.

-Putting a Human Face to Suffering in Syria w/ Eva Bartlett, Oct 18, 2016, Watching the Hawks (shared on their Facebook page)


-A Different Perspective on Syria w/ Eva Bartlett, Oct 20, 2016, Watching the Hawks (shared on their Facebook page)

UN covers up war crimes in Syria, citing U.S. backed Al-Qaeda propagandists

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Oct 29, 2016, The Duran

Once again, unnamed sources and al-Qaeda in White Helmets are claiming that either the Syrian or Russian air force are responsible for deaths of civilians, this time an alleged 22 children in Idlib province.

Once again, American claims need no actual proof and defy damning satellite imagery contradicting the accusations.

Once again, the hypocrisy not only of American exceptionalism but also of the United Nations is staggering.

Regarding unsubstantiated accusations of an attack on what Western and White Helmets spokespeople are claiming was an airstrike on a school complex in Hass, Idlib, on October 26, UNICEF cried “war crimes”. With supreme audacity, UNICEF  Executive Director Anthony Lake further claimed that this “airstrike” may be “the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.”

Perhaps Lake was otherwise distracted when on October 1, 2014, terrorists car and suicide bombed the Akrama Al-Makhzoumi School in Homs, killing at least 41 children by conservative estimates, or up to 48 children by other reports, along with women and other civilians.

Even when different phoneticisations of the Arabic name are searched, no similar statement of condemnation and anguish for the children murdered at the Akrama school bombings can be found on UNICEF’s website, even prior to Lake.

Nor can any mention be found of documented recent terrorist shelling attacks on schools in greater, government-secured Aleppo.

Nor can any mention be found of the terrorist shelling of That al-Nitaqain elementary school in Dara’a on October 11, which in early reports had killed at least 5 students and critically-injured others.

Western-backed terrorists have a history of attacking schools throughout Syria; the lives of these students seemingly don’t matter to the UN body purporting to be concerned for  the lives of children around the world.

In actual fact, the UN is covering up the war crimes of terrorists the West backs.

Absurdities of West’s Latest Claims

Western officials and slavish media are reporting “almost two dozen children” killed in an “airstrike” on the Idlib schools, relying on the usual sources completely lacking in credibility: the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, run by Rami Abdul Rahman in his UK shop-office; unnamed activists; and the so-called White Helmets, funded to the tune of up to US$ 100 million by Western governments and operating solely in al-Nusra areas of Syria, and frequently seen holding guns themselves, as well as standing on the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers.

Aside from the issue of these dodgy sources, the claims themselves of Russian or Syrian airstrikes have very easily and quickly been debunked not only by the Russian Ministry of Defence with its satellite imagery of the area, but also by the exercise of common sense based on the photos presented as “evidence” by said dubious sources.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov in a statement said:

“As can be seen from the photos taken by the drone, there are no signs of damage to the roof of the school, or craters from airstrikes around it.

We have analysed the photo and video ‘evidence’ of the supposed attack. The video published in a range of Western media outlets appears to consist of more than 10 different shots, filmed at different times of the day, and in different resolutions that were edited into a single clip.

The photograph published by AFP shows that only one wall of the school is damaged, and all the desks inside the classroom are in place. The outer fence seen through the hole has no traces of damage from bomb fragments. In a genuine airstrike this is physically impossible – the furniture would have been swept away by the blast wave, and there would have been damage marks on the classroom wall and the outer fence.”

READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE DURAN

Killed in Turkey: No investigation two years after suspicious death of American journalist Serena Shim

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Oct 20, 2016, The Duran 

(republished at Global Research)

October 19 marks two years since the very sudden and suspicious death of American journalist Serena Shim near Suruç, Turkey, close to the Syrian border.

Although all signs point to foul play, indeed murder, by Turkish intelligence, until now the US government has neither conducted nor demanded an inquiry into the events of the alleged car accident which Turkish officials say was the cause of Shim’s death, let alone offer condolences to the family.

Serena Shim was at the time reporting on Ayn al-Arab (Kobani), from the Turkish side. She was, in her own words, one of the first, if not the first, on the ground to report on ,“Takfiri militants going in through the Turkish border”. These include not only ISIS but also terrorists from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).

As Shim’s sister Fatmeh Shim stated in 2015, “She caught them bringing in ISIS high-ranked members into Syria from Turkey into camps, which are supposed to be Syrian refugee camps.”

Serena Shim’s January 2013 expose, “Turkey’s Pivotal Role in Syria’s Insurgency: PressTV Report from Inside Turkey,” showed footage of what she estimated to be 300 semi-trucks “awaiting militants to empty them out”; included testimony explaining how Turkey enables the crossing of foreign terrorists “freely” into Syria; spoke of the funneling of arms via the Incirlik US Air Base in Turkey to terrorists in refugee camps or on through to Syria; and highlighted the issue of terrorist training camps portrayed as refugee camps, guarded by the Turkish military.

Shim named the World Food Organization as one of the NGOs whose trucks were being used to funnel terrorists’ arms into Syria, and stated this in her last interview, just one day before being killed. Notably, in that interview she also explicitly stated that she feared for her life because Turkish intelligence had accused her of being a spy. She told Press TV:

“Turkey has been labeled by Reporters Without Borders as the largest prison for journalists, so I am a bit frightened about what they might use against me… I’m hoping that nothing is going to happen, that it’s going to blow over. I would assume that they are going to take me in for questioning, and the next hope is that my lawyer is good enough to get me out as soon as possible.”

Two days later, Press TV announced her death, stating:

“Serena was killed in a reported car accident when she was returning from a report scene in the city of Suruch in Turkey’s Urfa province. She was going back to her hotel in Urfa when their car collided with a heavy vehicle.”

This was the official version of her death, although in subsequent versions the story changed. In a report one month later, Russia Today (RT) spoke with Shim’s sister, who said:

“There’s so many different stories. The first was that Serena’s car was hit by a heavy vehicle, who proceeded to keep on driving. They could not find the vehicle nor could they find the driver. Two days later, surprisingly, they had found the vehicle and the driver, and had pictures of the heavy vehicle hitting my sister’s car. Every day coming out with new pictures of different degrees of damages that have happened to the car.”

“Serena and my cousin who was the driver of the car were taken to two different hospitals. She was reported first dead at the scene. Then coming out with later reports that she passed away at the hospital 30 minutes later from heart failure?! ”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE DURAN

The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn’t

Outstanding and informative rebuttal to a recent piece by Eric Draitser on CounterPunch, as well as to the lies in general purported by corporate media and rights groups as to how events played out in Syria in the early days of the unrest/war on Syria. Gowans also provides a much needed lesson in historical context. Masterpiece, by Stephen Gowans!

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October 22, 2016

Apparently, the US Left has yet to figure out that Washington doesn’t try to overthrow neoliberals. If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were a devotee of the Washington Consensus–as Counterpunch’s Eric Draitser seems to believe–the United States government wouldn’t have been calling since 2003 for Assad to step down. Nor would it be overseeing the Islamist guerilla war against his government; it would be protecting him.

By Stephen Gowans

There is a shibboleth in some circles that, as Eric Draitser put it in a recent Counterpunch article, the uprising in Syria “began as a response to the Syrian government’s neoliberal policies and brutality,” and that “the revolutionary content of the rebel side in Syria has been sidelined by a hodgepodge of Saudi and Qatari-financed jihadists.” This theory appears, as far as I can tell, to be based on argument by assertion, not evidence.

Mass demonstration in support of Syria's secular Arab nationalist government, 2011. Mass demonstration in support of…

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Overcoming Savagery and Treachery, Maaloula’s Heroic Defenders Fight for the Future

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© Eva Bartlett

Oct 18, 2016, Strategic Culture Foundation, (republished at SOTT.net)

-Eva Bartlett

Since 2013, September has for the historic village of Maaloula been a month of tragic anniversaries. Crimes and atrocities committed by Western, Gulf, Turkish and Zionist-backed terrorists there in September alone include murders, maimings, kidnappings, and the beginning of what would be the vast destruction and looting of Maaloula’s rich and unique ancient heritage.

On September 4, 2013, a Jordanian suicide-bomber exploded his truck at the Syrian army checkpoint at the arched gate outside the village. This was immediately followed by attacks on Syrian soldiers nearby, mainly by al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorists—including Chechens, Uighurs, Turkestanis, Libyans, and Saudis, as well as locals.


Gate at the outskirts of Maaloula, where on September 4, 2013, al-Nusra and other terrorists carried out a series of coordinated attacks on Syrian soldiers, the start of the battle for Maaloula. © Eva Bartlett

On September 7, 2013, terrorists point-blank assassinated three unarmed Maaloula men after they refused to convert to Islam, critically injuring one of the men’s sisters.

On September 13, 2013, a group of roughly twenty Syrians, including a Maaloula local, climbed the mountains above the town in an attempt to observe the never-interrupted, nearly 1,700 year old, annual traditions of the Festival of the Holy Cross. Terrorists attacked the men, killing roughly half of them and abducting the others (1).

Although since March 2013 al-Nusra and FSA, among other terrorist factions, had occupied areas of the cliffs above and beyond the over 4,000 year old village, the September 4th attack began what would be an eight month battle by Maaloula’s defence forces, the Syrian Arab Army, and Hezbollah to liberate the village from terrorists who bombed, burned, looted, and in any way possible attempted to destroy the heritage of Maaloula.

According to Maaloula local defence soldiers, between September 4, 2013 and April 14, 2014, at least 200 soldiers of the Syrian army were killed in the battles to liberate Maaloula, including at least four who were savagely beheaded in the initial terrorist attacks. Their honourable sacrifices will not be forgotten.

The less-recognized heroes in Maaloula’s fight against terrorism were those villagers who defied terrorists’ commands or with arms resisted them, and continue to do so now.

In July 2016, I returned to Maaloula to see how life had improved since April 2014, and to hear the accounts of Maaloula’s heroic defenders and of a woman left for dead.

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