Excellent reporting on Syria

Things are not looking good for the British government at the moment. Their flaky story about Skripal cumbling by the day and now apparent confirmation that the “gas attack” in Douma was a hoax too.

This is the report from British journalist Robert Fisk. Robert Fisk doesn’t work for RT or the Morning Star. He has a reputation as a good, independent, journalist. He writes in the Independent. Fisk’s account of the “gas attack” is based on an interview with a doctor in the hospital used in the videos. It wasn’t a gas attack. Rather; people were suffering from smoke inhalation. Someone ran into the emergency room and shouted “gas” – this started the panic; which was then filmed and uploaded to YouTube by the White Helmets.

This account tallies with those produced by Russian state media – using different witnesses. Of course one can posit that Russia has somehow managed to persuade all the 22 eyewitnesses they have produced for the OPCW – some at least of whom are doctors – to tell a coordinated lie. But then: who is talking “conspiracy theory” now?

Fisk is an exception in British journalism. Today’s issue of the Independent carries another story on Douma in which it refers to the White Helmets as a “relief organisation”. The White Helmets are nothing of the sort. They are funded – with millions of pounds – by the Foreign Office. At the start of the Syrian civil war when William Hague was Foreign Secretary it was openly announced that the British strategy on Syria would be to help the “resistance movement” to document human rights abuses by the Assad regime. The White Helmets are the result. There can be no doubt that the White Helmets are managed by MI6/the SAS. This gives credence to Russian claims that the Foreign Office asked the White Helmets to stage last week’s “chemical attack”.  But the British press continues to present the White Helmets – who are fully aligned with the jihadis in Syria – as some kind of humanitarian or relief organisation. It is an example of wilful naivety to believe – as the government and propagandist media does – that in exchange for all these millions from the Foreign Office, handed over no doubt in cash by the SAS, the White Helmets are going to be particularly objective when it comes to reporting “war crimes” by Assad.

There are a number of points which emerge from Robert Fisk’s first-hand reporting:

i) He is allowed to move freely around Douma even though there are Russia military around. This is not consistent with the narrative that the Russians are trying to tamper with evidence in Douma.

ii) He reports that the bombing by Syrian and Russian forces targeted jihadi (in this case Jaish al-Islam, a right wing Islamist group not part of the “free Syrian army” network) positions in the town. And that in  some cases Jaish al-Islam fighters took up residence in civilian houses in order to try to avoid the bombing. This  – eyewitness accounts gathered by an experienced reporter – blows apart the Guardian narrative that Russia and Syria are bombing civilians in Syria.

iii)  The White Helmets all left town with the Islamic militants. Military fatigues were found in their base. (Bought with British tax-payers money?)

iv) Many people in Douma did not leave with the militants and are happy to be back under Syrian government control.

Fisk’s report cuts through the fog of propaganda which normally passes for “news” in papers like the Guardian and Daily Telegraph – and quite probably the Independent too. (This editor doesn’t read it).

But we are now at a point where the British political and media classes automatically believe their own propaganda to the point that anything else is immediately and in all sincerity, apparently, discounted as produced by “Kremlin trolls” and so on. They like to talk about the “Kremlin media bubble” which Russia apparently enforces on its citizens – but they themselves live in a bubble of their own making.


Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer