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Eastern Ghouta in the shoes of Aleppo: the media propaganda again

Eastern Gouta in the shoes of Aleppo: the media propaganda again | Jordi Bernabeu Farrús

Eastern Ghouta in Damascus province is a hotbed of extremist terrorist groups which makes the lives of more than seven million people of Damascus and its surrounding areas a living hell. Constant indiscriminate targeting of residential areas, and the huge death toll of civilians and suffering of children, has forced the Syrian government to deal with that nightmare, and to once and for all eradicate the terrorist threat in the effort to bring peace and stability to people of Damascus.

On February 24, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 to cease hostilities for at least 30 consecutive days, “to enable weekly humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded”. Although the resolution should apply to all of Syria, the cessation of hostilities does not apply to UNSC-designated terrorist groups, such as the so called Islamic State, al-Qeada, al-Nusra Front and individuals and groups related to them. The resolution is going to be very hard to implement since there are no Western powers that could influence terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta. None of them. Also, since vast areas of Eastern Ghouta have a huge presence of al-Nusra Front terrorists, this could lead to the impossibility of implementing the resolution.

After the December 2016 liberation of eastern parts of the city of Aleppo, which had been occupied and governed by the most brutal terrorist groups, today in Eastern Ghouta we are witnessing the same pattern of propaganda as we heard in the lead-up to Aleppo's liberation. Stories about “the slaughter of civilians” or “hell on Earth”, and similar rhetoric, are the same accusations we have heard so many times, and in most of the cases were proven false. Civilians suffer during any military operations against terrorist groups, that is a fact, but not at the scale represented in the corporate media. At the same time, the suffering of civilians in the government controlled areas of Damascus does not serve the purpose of the regime change agenda, so they are ignored in the same way as they were in Aleppo.

Civilian casualties reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) cannot be taken as legitimate, given that the source of such information comes from biased parties who are exaggerating the numbers of victims in order to portray Syrian armed forces as some kind of evil and demonic military machine who fights only women and children. The White Helmets, a group that hijacked the name of the Syrian civil defence, has proven to be fake and embedded with al-Qaeda and other extremists in their criminal activities. This was all documented by themselves on their social media profiles and by witnesses from East Aleppo who suffered under the terrorist occupation. Everything which comes from them must be dismissed since they are taking much better care of their cameras than of the victims. Claims of “chemical attacks” are constantly presented even though it is impossible to verify such claims. And since the terrorists and their “civil defence” will do anything which will go along with Western propaganda, we should expect an increase of such “claims”.

We must acknowledge that a large part of population in Eastern Ghouta supports the terrorist groups since the majority of terrorists are in fact the locals, so they will be supported by their families. But it is highly unlikely that the majority of Eastern Ghouta's population would trade the peace and stability offered by the Syrian government for death and destruction. Taking civilians as human shields is one modus operandi of the so called “rebels” since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. Without civilians, the terrorists would be an easy catch, and the war would have ended many years ago. That's why the progress of Syrian forces has been stalled in so many cases in these past seven years. The Syrian government offered exit corridors for civilians, but it is a huge risk because just like in East Aleppo, civilians who try to escape Eastern Ghouta will be targeted by the terrorist forces.

Also, the number presented by SOHR and corporate media of 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta must be taken with extreme caution. In the case of East Aleppo, even the UN officials backed the biased claim of 300,000 people living in that area. In the end and after the liberation, the UN officials were caught in a blatant lie because the number of people was less than 150,000, of which 110,000 civilians refused to leave the area and took refuge within the official Syrian authorities.

Concern for civilians is just another charade in the Western powers' effort to prolong the existence of terrorist groups as much as possible. We must ask the question which has been avoided and neglected by the corporate media: Who the US, UK and France trying to protect in Eastern Ghouta?

 Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam)

Notorious Jaish al-Islam is the biggest terrorist group in Eastern Ghouta where they hold their headquarters. They are considered as “moderate rebels” by the West. Just by looking at their name we must ask ourselves how “moderate” such group could be? They are following a Salafist ideology and they are extremely hated by the people of Damascus who see them as the primary cause of their suffering. Jaish al-Islam is a genocidal terrorist organization devoted to the extermination and enslavement of Syrian religious minorities.

Founded on September 29, 2013 as a product of merger of dozens of terrorist groups, the basic core was Liwa al-Islam, which existed two years prior. The founder of that faction was the infamous Zahran Alloush, son of the notorious Saudi backed Salafist scholar Abdullah Muhammad Alloush.

Jaish al-Islam committed horrific terror attacks across Damascus and are responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians. One of the worst crimes they committed was what is known as the Adra massacre, where dozens of civilians were brutally slaughtered, beheaded, and some of them even burned alive. Many civilians abducted from Adra were later paraded in cages in Eastern Ghouta on November 1, 2015. That act drew the utmost outrage of the people of Damascus.

Zahran Alloush was killed in an air strike on December 25, 2015, which was the best Christmas present the citizens of Damascus could receive.

For many years Jaish al-Islam was allied with the Syrian al-Qaeda branch, al-Nusra Front. But the alliance was broken due to their own petty reasons, like the distribution of the money they received from Gulf countries, or fighting over what they plundered and looted during their criminal activities.

Jaish al-Islam is recognized by the West as part of Syrian “moderate opposition”.

Hayat Tarir al-Sham (former al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda in Syria)

The very well known al-Qaeda affiliate has been present in Eastern Ghouta since late 2011. There is nothing much to say about this terrorist organization which is not already known. Founded in late 2011 and officially announced in January 2012, the organization is responsible for a huge amount of atrocities across Syria. Probably the most heinous attack on Damascus was in December 2016 when one of their members sent two of his daughters aged 7 and 9 to commit a suicide-bombing attack on the police station in Midan neighbourhood. The 7 year old girl, Islam, blew herself up at the station, while her sister Fatemah escaped, since she was unable to enter the station. This perfectly describes what kind of terrorist organization al-Nusra really is.

As the UNSC Resolution 2401 states, any group or individual that is affiliated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is a legitimate target.

Faylaq al-Rahman

This terrorist organization operates exclusively in Damascus province. They were a recipients of BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missile systems, and are also considered as “moderate opposition” forces and part of the so called “Free Syrian Army”. In reality, they are no different from other terrorist groups. They are almost constantly allied with al-Nusra Front, except when they got into a dispute with that terrorist organization over who will lead Friday prayers.

Ahrar al-Sham

Probably the biggest terrorist group in Syria, the Salafist criminal organization Ahrar al-Sham, has a presence in Eastern Ghouta and it is now aligned with Jaish al-Islam. They were aligned with Faylaq al-Rahman until May 11, 2017, when they aligned themselves with Jaish al-Islam against al-Nusra Front, in the middle of infighting and war between terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta.

Ahrar al-Sham is probably the best example of idiocy and utter chaos in Eastern Ghouta, changing sides as it suits them. Today, they are fierce enemies of al-Nusra Front, also out of their own petty reasons. Their existence in Eastern Ghouta is entirely dependable on their relations with Jaish al-Islam.   

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All these factions share the same Takfiri ideology and financial support from Gulf countries. Some of them are directly supported by Western powers. All these factions are responsible for thousands of dead, and tens of thousands of wounded civilians in the city of Damascus. They all rain mortar shells and missiles on Damascus on daily basis and are considered by more than 7 million residents of greater Damascus as the worst terrorists, criminals who deserve to be eradicated with no empathy to terrorists whatsoever.

Even though terrorists groups very often fight against each other, they do feel a threat to their existence which might force them to join their forces against the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. It is easy to predict that the 30 day cessation of hostilities will fail. After all, peace is not in the interest of the terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta, nor is it in the interest of Western powers who will never get over the fact that their criminal regime change plan miserably failed in Syria. It is especially not in the interest of corporate media, who will lose the opportunity to demonize the Syrian leadership further, like they did in Aleppo.

But, when we look at the bigger picture, the failure of the 30 day ceasefire is in fact in the best interest of more than seven million of citizens of the city of Damascus and its surrounding areas who are basically held hostage by the terrorists in Eastern Ghouta. They are relying on the Syrian Arab Army and its allies to finish with the terrorist threat once and for all. After so many years, they deserve it.

Matija Lukač

Matija Lukač is a pro-Syrian activist and researcher of the Syrian conflict; he is also a Special Assistant and Contributor for the Middle East and Syria at the GlobalCIR website.