As is the case with governmental propaganda, a darker and more insidious truth exists beneath a sugar-coated, simplistic narrative offered the public — and U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict has provided the worst of the worst — with the supposed humanitarian group, the White Helmets, topping the charts in disinformation.
Ask any Westerner who considers themselves informed in international affairs about the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, Oscar Award-winning White Helmets, and you’ll likely hear them praise the group’s valiant efforts to save Syrian civilians after attacks by the Islamic State, or errant bombings by the Russian and Syrian governments.
But it’s a lie. And one need look no further than praise of the White Helmets, sung by actual, known terrorists, to see the truth in its naked form.
Because, in actuality, a thick shroud of controversy veils the group — which is notorious among Syrians for haphazard and occasionally dangerous medical practices in the treatment of victims, as well as for aiding terrorists and their enablers.
Far worse, the war-ravaged Syrian populace knows the White Helmets as a creation of the West — one which not only sympathizes with al Qaeda or al Nusra and its affiliates, but which stages rescues for the camera — purely to benefit the U.S.’ goal of ousting President Bashar al-Assad, no matter the repercussions to innocents.
While the corporate media establishment of the United States and its allies proffer the White Helmets as fearless heroes saving civilians from the horrors of terrorism run rampant, in truth, it is the White Helmets’ close affiliation to terrorist groups that has embittered swaths of innocent Syrians to excoriate Western meddling in the affairs of their sovereign nation.
Proof of this allegation has inundated alternative media, thanks in large part to the work of independent journalists who have witnessed the lack of compassion and horrendously flawed medical practices of these ostensively beloved rescuers, for years.
Now, a video created by the leader of Tahrir al-Sham, Abu Jaber — dated March 16, 2017 — backs accusations the White Helmets aren’t at all the humanitarians U.S. propaganda claims.
In fact, Jaber applauds the White Helmets as the “hidden soldiers of our revolution” — thanking them for their actions in support of Tahrir al-Sham — praising the group in the same breath as militants killed in action advancing the terrorists’ cause.
“Second, a message of thanks and gratitude to the hidden soldiers of our revolution,” Jaber states on video, according to an English translation, in what appears to be a prepared statement of gratitude. “On top of the list are the parents of the martyrs and the men of the White Helmets.”
Whatever doubts instilled by U.S. propaganda remain can be handily shredded by Jaber’s words — and, if not, evidence abounds what this leader of one of the most adaptable terrorist groups in the Middle East says is true.
Al Qaeda and its many variants operate throughout the Middle East, including Syria, not infrequently in parallel actions — if not lockstep — with the U.S.-backed coalition operating in opposition to Syrian government forces.
Where the U.S. once pegged al Qaeda responsible for masterminding the attacks of 9/11, it now quietly admits to working with this terrorist organization to battle one considered the worst — ferociously inhumane fighters of the Islamic State.
Damascus and Moscow seek an end to the conflict by ejecting or crushing the entire web of terrorist groups operating in Syria, while the West — remaining fixated on regime change — instead reluctantly admits to arming and training al Qaeda (al Nusra, Tahrir al-Sham, etc.) militants it once fought against in the region.
They call those fighters ‘moderate rebels’ — the desperate semantics of an interventionist country criticized the world over for inserting itself where it isn’t wanted to advance an agenda of the dying empire. And those moderate terrorists receive support in medical treatment from the White Helmets — to the consternation of non-combatant civilians, seemingly besieged from all sides in this complex morass characterizing the yearslong Syrian conflict.
“In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA,” wrote Rick Sterling for Counterpunch in April 2015. “Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by ‘The Syria Campaign’ supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project which has received glowing publicity from [Huffington Post] to Nicholas Kristof at the [New York Times]. White Helmets have been heavily promoted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (U.S.IP) whose leader began the press conference by declaring ‘U.S.I.P. has been working for the Syrian Revolution from the beginning.’”
Sterling isn’t by far the sole voice countering the U.S. narratives on the Helmets. Journalist Vanessa Beeley has spent months on and off in Syria, witnessing the group’s nefarious and questionable actions, and has vociferously condemned the White Helmets’ duplicity in support of the West and al Qaeda-affiliated groups, in deference to the wellbeing of Syrian civilians.
“30th April 2017,” Beeley wrote, “I visited the White Helmet centres in Marjeh and Bab Al Nairab, East Aleppo, vacated since the liberation of East Aleppo from Nusra Front led occupation in December 2016. The White Helmets departed with Nusra Front in the buses that evacuated many of them to Idlib. They left behind undeniable evidence of the White Helmet affiliation with and allegiance to Al Qaeda, Syrian civilian testimony and paperwork, graffiti all testify to the White Helmets being Al Qaeda ‘with a facelift.’”
It would be comforting to believe the lie — to allow the palliative propaganda a group claiming to have humanitarian goals actually does — but that lie endangers the lives of countless innocents, trapped by geographic happenstance in the throes of a war worsened by U.S. interventionism.
But what little comfort is offered in the mendacious claims about the White Helmets, vanishes upon cursory inspection, and — coupled with the testimony of journalists like Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, and many others, whose consciences don’t allow such deceitful luxury — an obligation of truth wins out.
And when the leader of Tahrir al-Sham terms the West’s golden children of the White Helmets the “hidden soldiers of our revolution,” comfort no longer exists in a neatly-packaged narrative — because truth never is as comfortable or convenient as a fastidiously crafted forgery, when it’s festooned in humanitarian trappings.