Covered in dust and bruises with hair disheveled from having survived a blast, the blood beginning to crust over half his face, a seeming placidity — hands anchored on his legs, all-but unmoving — could not mask the stoic trauma in little Omran Daqneesh’s eyes.
Gazing hauntingly from the back of an ambulance in Aleppo in August 2016, Omran’s image snared the heartstrings of the world — even those previously hardened to the hopelessly tangled morass in Syria — transmogrifying into a single human form the suffering of innocent Syrians at the whims of entire nation-states embroiled in proxy war upon war in the name of political squabbles.
But, while the West took up Omran’s cause, Westerners did so under the pretense the child had been bloodied by an airstrike or missile launched by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or their allies from Russia — his image rekindling the fire of contention propaganda designed to support the United States’ goal of regime change.
But it was a lie — from mass media’s parroted claims the boy had escaped an airstrike within an inch of his life, to bandages eventually wrapped around Omran’s head — virtually none of the narrative stemming from the starkly persistent image bore the weight of truth.
“We did not find out how the incident happened,” Mohamad Kheir Daqneesh, Omran’s father, told reporter Kinana Alloush and others in interviews this week. “I pulled my family members out of debris. Omran was with me, while White Helmets took him away and started taking photo of him.”
Daqneesh, noting the sound of fighter jets or missiles did not precede the blast which ultimately killed Omran’s 10-year-old brother, explained he had to shave the boy’s head and ferret him away from overwhelming media attention — and from rebel fighters and sympathizers who sought perhaps to wrest the symbolic child from the relative safety of his family.
Journalists allied with al-Nusra Front — variously, Fatah al-Sham or Levant Liberation, an offshoot of al-Qaeda — demanded the father adhere to the narrative Assad was responsible for Russians bombing the neighborhood, and, thus, their suffering and tragic predicament. They even offered sizable sums to sweeten the pot.
He refused — on principle, as well as on the basis of knowledge likely some contrary was true.
In fact, the attempt to wrangle a narrative favorable to the U.S.-led coalition hasn’t ceased — even amid the emergence of the family’s actual plight, pro-Western media outlets like the Guardian and Washington Post maintained speculation and withheld details disputing the original maudlin horror evinced in the August 17, 2016, image of Omran in the ambulance’s orange chair.
Where Alloush and other journalists, interviewing Daqneesh with Omran by his side — now clean cut and hinting smiles — listened intently to the man fed up with misinformation circulating for almost a year, Western corporate media insisted there could be no way to verify whether coercion forced him to speak out.
Mohamad — gasp — supports the rule of Assad.
But where eagerness to paint the Syrian war in the broad strokes of good versus evil might have fabricated the story to the benefit of shared goals possessed by the West and barbarous militants, reality is never so simple.
Nor is it so verily sterile and concrete, even when tinged with hollow tears from a world audience eager to pin blame and continue dropping bombs as usual.
War’s messes cannot be encapsulated so facilely in the resigned, dusty face of a single child — not when thousands of children whose stability, limbs, life, and homeland have been ripped to shreds — but go unnoticed by the same corporate media backing interventionist policy wreaking that havoc in the first place.
Omran, it turns out, suffered only minor injuries — not even severe enough to warrant head bandages, much less a footnote in history as the poster child for why the West must oust Assad — and he left the hospital after receiving first aid to return to whatever remained of their home in Aleppo.
“He only sustained minor injuries, but the militants exaggerated this fact. They said on numerous occasions via their media that he died, until finally admitting that he’s alive. They are not to be trusted,” the elder Daqneesh asserted.
“While I was rescuing my family the militants filmed my kin getting out of the house, in order to use these images for propaganda … I never had any dealings with their organizations and I never accepted their so-called humanitarian aid.”
Months of hiding, dodging further unwanted attention, plagued Daqneesh — until ire at brazen manipulation of his son boiled over into statements with journalists clarifying Assad and the Russians should not bear blame.
Terrorists — some armed, trained, backed, and laughably reclassified by the West and its allies as ‘moderate rebels’ — still aim to depose Assad and dominate Syria. In some places, they do.
And while it would be equally as farcical to sterilize atrocities committed by Syrian and Russian forces, denying Western and American complicity in the horrors besieging civilians belies a pomposity in politicized warring — with children like Omran unknowingly symbolizing two fundamentally differing justifications for its continuance.
Omran isn’t Syria. But because he is Syrian, the ugliness of conflict in the Middle East — stoked by a laundry list of geopolitical, religious, and other conniving agendas — found shameless solace in emblazoning his image on propaganda conveniently supporting each, individually.
And shamelessly so.
If Omran Daqneesh is to be a poster child of this war, then let the five-year-old grace only posters calling for its end — for a return to a life Westerners might not be familiar in its normalcy, but which suited the majority of Syrians.
Until, that is, the time the otherwise insular conflict took on proxy outgrowths and began using traumatized children as pawns.
If you wish only to never see another Omran — less so, his counterparts, who were fortunate enough to escape the additional burden of the international floodlight, but who suffered worse fates — then war must end. Troops must be delivered back to their families. Death must cease to be a commodification of the need to intervene in affairs of sovereign nations.
Diplomacy, even that not fully in sync with either warring party, must return as a viable alternative to the murder writ large in pro-war arrogance and propaganda.
Otherwise, there will be more Omrans — worse, there will be an interminable list of children lost to war, whose names and faces only their families will mourn.
That, not a situation manipulated to appear as something more, is the true horror of war.
By Claire Bernish From The Free Thought Project
The recent London terrorist attack, which killed 4 people, is plastered all over the mainstream media, even with special articles already on “who were the victims.” So why are the U.S. terrorist attacks on Syrian barely mentioned?
It is apparently not enough that Syrian citizens are being attacked and terrorized by ISIS, they also have to fear terrorist attacks from the U.S. and its allies.
US forces were conducting an airdrop of Kurdish fighters around the Syrian town of al-Mansour, near the ISIS capital city of Raqqa, and carrying out heavy airstrikes to cover the drop.
One airstrike targeted a school in the town which was being used to house civilians from the surrounding area displaced by the fighting. At least 33 civilians were killed, reported CBS.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 33 dead had been recovered from the rubble so far, and that only two survivors had been recovered yet. Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, another NGO, reported the school sheltered around 50 displaced families, which might suggest the toll will continue to rise, according to BBC.
As expected, the Pentagon is evasive about the terrorist attack and civilian casualties, confirming that they carried out multiple airstrikes in the immediate vicinity of the incident, but claiming there is “no evidence” that they hit a school in the course of that.
All signs point to the U.S. being behind this attack, which makes this the second US strike causing large civilian casualties in Syria in the past week, with the previous attack further west in the village of al-Jineh destroying part of a mosque and killing at least 49 civilians, and according to some reports as many as 75.
If the U.S. is bombing Syrian civilians, even blowing up schools and houses of prayer, then who are they helping in the war against ISIS?
Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the lawmaker who accused the U.S. government of funding and arming ISIS and introduced a bill to prevent it from happening in future, recently disclosed that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during her recent trip to Syria. The move has reportedly angered many of her fellow congressmen and women.
Upon returning from the war-stricken nation, Gabbard released the following statement in the form of a press release:
“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.
“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”
According to the press release, Gabbard met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protesters in 2011, widows and family members who fight alongside al-Qaeda groups, pro-Assad troops, humanitarian workers, and students, to name a few. Gabbard also met with high-ranking officials such as Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aon and Prime Minister Hariri, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, and Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo.
Initially, Gabbard allegedly had no intention of meeting Assad, as she stated in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt that it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we can achieve peace,” she told Tapper.
The meeting with Assad is incredibly controversial because of numerous allegations by the U.N. that Assad has committed crimes against humanity.
“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” she added. “In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur there has to be a conversation with him.”
Not surprisingly, the media has hyped up this visit as outrageous but has omitted some very glaring hypocrisies that arise as a result of Gabbard’s trip to Syria.
First, the Obama administration and Bush administration both drew serious allegations of war crimes, but if Gabbard had met with either of those former presidents, it’s doubtful anyone would have batted an eyelid.
Second, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with Assad in 2009, even though, after nine years in office, Assad was clearly responsible for all of the things western media has been relentlessly accusing him of doing since 2011.
Third, Gabbard’s meeting symbolizes the ridiculousness of America’s foreign policy decision-making system. A few hundred old men and women who have never been to Syria — nor care to go — sit in a room and deliberate a piece of paper deciding whether or not to drop million dollar tomahawk missiles on a relatively poor country. Even when these decision-makers are well aware of the horror their edicts will unleash, they are never required to visit the country, talk to its people, or understand the situation and better educate themselves. In the case of Syria, Congress wasn’t even required to approve the air campaign that began in 2014, as Obama authorized airstrikes without their approval anyway.
Gabbard’s move should be applauded — not ridiculed. Singling Assad out as some sort of mass-murdering psychopath while foreign leaders routinely meet with alleged war criminals such as Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s leadership, and Henry Kissinger, to name a few, is the epitome of U.S.-NATO arrogance.
Gabbard may have met with a mass murderer, but she also met with numerous people on the ground — the people who matter most. After doing so, she concluded:
“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.”
No one can criticize her strategy because, for the last six years, no one has even attempted it.
By: Darius Shahtahmasebi From: The Anti Media
November 22, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The US-European funded “Syrian Civil Defence” also known as the “White Helmets,” have been incrementally exposed as perhaps one of the most extensive and elaborate deceptions in modern war propaganda. Posing as both “rescuers” of civilians trapped in alleged Syrian and Russian airstrikes, and “monitors” reporting alleged “atrocities” carried out against armed militants fighting the Syrian government, evidence has mounted that they are in fact accomplices with militant groups including listed terrorist organizations, as well as propagandists.
In early October of this year, protesters in Europe easily recreated virtually every “rescue” scene portrayed by “White Helmets” simply by applying flour and red paint to their faces and lying in the streets of European cities. As part of the “Save Aleppo” campaign, the protesters likely sought to bring the “reality” of the “White Helmets'” work to Western audiences, but maybe did so a little too literally – revealing that many of the scenes portrayed by “White Helmet” camera crews in Syria were likely staged in a very similar, theatrical manner.
In real warfare, bombardments generally leave behind unspeakable carnage, including bodies burned beyond recognition, dangling limbs, gushing wounds, and piles of tangled gore. The “White Helmets'” videos are suspiciously absent of these realities, and instead feature almost exclusively the flour and red paint extras seen protesting in Europe’s streets last October.
It was noted last October that the only feature missing from the “White Helmets”-inspired protests in Europe was the backdrop of a ruined city and rubble to “bury” actors in.
But a recent video shared on Facebook by Syrian activist Mimi Al Laham, exposes this charade with this final feature included.
What appears to be a “White Helmet” video shot in a style known as the “mannequin challenge” – in which actors remain still as a camera moves around them similar to a technique employed in Hollywood movies for dramatic effect – has surfaced on YouTube.
It begins with three men attempting to remain still as a camera moves around them. The men are posing in the rubble of a collapsed building. Two men are dressed as “White Helmet” volunteers, and the third man is laying down with his legs partially buried beneath rubble. An audible sound effect is added to the soundtrack – similar to that heard in a war movie when a character is dazed and his ears are ringing – before suddenly the characters begin moving and shouting – the volunteers begin “unburying” the trapped man who feigns screams of pain.
Aside from the “mannequin challenge” stylization, the video is utterly indistinguishable from the full summation of the “White Helmets'” previous “filmography.” Like all of the “victims” the “White Helmets” have “saved,” the man in this video is clearly not physically injured and is simply covered in dust just as protesters in Europe were, and just as all of the alleged “victims” the “White Helmets” have claimed to save in Syria have been in the wake of alleged airstrikes.
Serious Ethical Questions Raised
In this video, the three men are undoubtedly actors. The “victim” was undoubtedly, intentionally buried in preexisting rubble, not trapped in it from an airstrike. The fact that two of the actors are fully dressed in “White Helmet” uniforms acquired through the tens of millions of dollars provided to the organization by Western governments, reveals a potentially serious breach in ethical behavior – similar to ethical violations committed by legitimate medical and rescue workers who use their resources and protected status for political or military purposes, rather than missions of mercy.
The “White Helmets” are perhaps the perfect embodiment of the entire Syrian “opposition.” A facade created by foreign interests to divide and destroy an entire nation, unhinge an entire region, all while posing as heroes of “freedom,” “democracy,” and “humanitarianism.” For other supposed nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide receiving funding from the US and EU, they should seriously consider the company they find themselves among – terrorists, liars, and actors preying on people’s good intentions while exploiting misery they themselves are directly involved in creating.