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29 September, 2016

Journey to Aleppo: exposing the truth buried under NATO propaganda

The Syrian people are suffering under the ‘moderate rebels’ and ‘opposition forces’ backed by the US, NATO member states and their allies in the Gulf states and Israel. Yet their suffering is largely ignored in the mainstream media unless it furthers the agenda dictated by the State Department.

This article is the first in a two-part series of one Western journalist’s journey to Aleppo, a city ravaged by an insurgency supported by the United States, NATO member states, and their allies in the Gulf states and Israel. In Part I, Vanessa Beeley lays out the mainstream narrative on Syria, revealing a neoconservative agenda promoted by NATO-funded NGOs. These NGOs paint the destruction of the historic city as being caused by the Syrian government under Bashar Assad, not the violent armed insurgents which receive arms, funding and training from Western governments and their allies.

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Aleppo has become synonymous with destruction and “Syrian state-generated” violence among those whose perception of the situation in the war-torn nation is contained within the prism of mainstream media narratives.

The NATO-aligned media maintains a tight grip on information coming out of this beleaguered city, ensuring that whatever comes out is tailored to meet State Department requirements and advocacy for regime change. The propaganda mill churns out familiar tales of chemical weapons, siege, starvation and bombs targeting civilians–all of which are attributed to the Syrian government and military, with little variation on this theme.

The purpose of this photo essay and my journey to Aleppo on Aug. 14 was to discover for myself as a Western journalist the truth behind the major storylines in the U.S. and NATO narrative on Syria.

Humanitarian disaster and siege

In informing the Western world that the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad is responsible for the siege of Aleppo, the Western media is selling the public a humanitarian war. “Syria’s rebels unite to break Assad’s siege of Aleppo,” according to a headline in the Guardian on Aug. 6.

This particular article actually celebrates the use of suicide bombers in the “rebel” capture of the SAA military academy in southern Aleppo. It describes the area as “the heart of Aleppo,” but that’s a very misleading term which suggests “rebels” have broken into the depths of the government-held western Aleppo. It’s an untruth that becomes a truth in the minds of a public which relies upon a “respected” media outlet to provide them with insights into the Syrian conflict.

These articles often do not mention the humanitarian corridors established by the Syrian state and Russia, or the amnesty deals being offered to the “armed opposition” fighting in Aleppo. When these subjects are mentioned, though, it is in passing or with a negative slant that undermines the very real efforts toward reconciliation being made by the Syrian state. The ministry of national reconciliation is headed up by Dr. Ali Haider, a member of the genuine, nonviolent Syrian opposition, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

On July 27, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported:

The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces has been sending text messages calling on the militants in the eastern part of Aleppo city to lay down arms and seek a settlement of their legal status, and urging citizens to join national reconciliations and expel foreign militants from their localities.

Nor does the media mention that the United States and European Union are imposing crippling economic sanctions on Syria, while also actively pouring in thousands of weapons and millions of dollars in funding to the 360,000 foreign mercenaries committing human rights abuses throughout Syria.

Aleppo is, indeed, under siege, but that siege is being imposed by the “moderate opposition” groups on civilians in western Aleppo and those living under a terrorist occupation in eastern Aleppo. Humanitarian convoys heading into western Aleppo are forced to pass through high-risk areas occupied by the Nusra Front and the myriad other terrorist groups operating there.

In August 2015, I shared a report from a resident of Aleppo on my blog. It reads, in part:

I feel nothing but rage when I see these thugs and criminals on the other side of the city pouring thousands of litres of clean, fresh water into the disease infested river under the noses of the thirsty Syrians they are claiming to liberate. They are the terrorists, they are the monsters in this story and they are committing daily mass crimes against the citizens of Aleppo but this is never mentioned by the western media. Are we not Syrian? Does our plight mean nothing, does our story not count? This is Aleppo, the real Aleppo, not the western media fantasy, this is our sleeping, waking, perpetual nightmare of life under terrorist occupation.

As Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari, Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council in January: “The true siege is on 23 million Syrians and it is being inflicted upon them by the U.S., U.K. and EU government sanctions.

Along with the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing raids that have targeted power plants and other essential infrastructure, these sanctions have decimated the civilian health and education sectors in Syria. If Syrians are starving or unable to receive treatment for severe injuries or chronic illnesses, it is because NATO is imposing a war upon them, introducing mercenary fighters who are paid to murder and drive Syrians from their homes, and blocking supplies and equipment from reaching hospitals and schools.

Of course, all of these topics are worthy of stand-alone articles. My trip to Aleppo was curtailed slightly due to the escalation in fighting between the SAA and various “moderate rebel” and mercenary groups headed up by the Nusra Front. I was, however, able to glean some very valuable information and statements that go a long way toward discrediting the NATO-aligned media narrative.

One Syrian man in Aleppo told me:

Almost everything they blame the government or the army for in the last five years was actually carried out by the terrorists, by NATO. They are targeting infrastructure, hospitals, kids, women. They are raping women. They are using chemicals, chlorine, mustard gas.

I’ve withheld his name out of respect for his safety–a common issue in a city that has been under a constantly evolving media and terrorist siege since the NATO intervention gathered momentum in Syria almost six years ago.

The information siege has been imposed upon Aleppo by American and European mainstream media, as well as various offshoot media funded by the Gulf states or Turkey that rely heavily on al-Qaida as sources. It has ensured that little real news has been able to escape the propaganda tent erected over a city that resisted all attempts to be drawn into the armed insurrection from the very beginning of the dirty war on Syria.

And this dirty war is one that had been incubating long before it officially began in December 2011, as demonstrated by State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, which show that plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the government had been forming as early as 2006.

What often goes unreported is the punishment meted out to Aleppo’s civilian population by the multiple brigades of terrorists armed, funded and even trained by the United States, NATO members and their allies in the Gulf states and Israel. The mainstream media instead scrambles to further vilify the SAA and Assad government by any means available to them, including the dissemination of later debunked and discredited reports.

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