Having no shame for telling systematic lies about the strategic battle for Aleppo, the Western mainstream media are at it again – this time concerning renewed violence near the Syrian capital, Damascus.
European news media outlets in particular are claiming that the Syrian government forces are now applying «siege tactics as they previously did in Aleppo» in order to capture militant strongholds northwest of Damascus.
As with earlier mendacious Western media coverage over the months-long battle for Aleppo, the latest reportage is turning reality on its head.
Syrian government forces are mounting operations northwest of Damascus because the area is held by extremist groups dominated by Al Nusra Front, whom the West ambiguously describes as «rebels».
Furthermore, what is adding urgency to the campaign to retake the area around Wadi Barada is that the militants are contaminating the main drinking-water supply to the capital, some 30 kilometers away.
Up to four million people in Damascus are cut off from water supplies because the jihadists in and around Wadi Barada have reportedly poisoned vital groundwater sources with diesel and other pollutants.
So, in contrast to Western media spin, it is the anti-government insurgents who are trying to hold the capital under siege through a massive act of terrorism, by shutting off drinking water to the entire population.
A casual consumer of European news outlets, however, would be oblivious to this vital background. Indeed, the news consumer is apt to conclude that it is the Syrian governments forces, and by extension their Russian ally, who are perpetrating violations and undermining peace efforts.
A news anchor at France 24, for instance, stated this week: «Syria ceasefire under threat as government forces step up attacks near capital».
Similar misleading headlines and spin are deployed by Britain’s BBC, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, as well as French-based Euronews. (More on those below.)
The latest nationwide ceasefire was brokered by Russia and Turkey and endorsed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council last weekend. That breakthrough followed the liberation of the northern city of Aleppo at the end of December by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies.
Eastern Aleppo had been under siege for nearly four years by Western-backed militants. Western media routinely accused Syrian government forces and Russian air power of using indiscriminate violence to retake the city from «rebels».
But when Aleppo was finally brought under control, it was apparent from relieved civilians that they were celebrating a «liberation» – thanks to Syrian and Russian forces.
The subsequent discovery of mass graves in eastern Aleppo testified to a «reign of terror» that had been imposed on the civilian population by the militants, who are dominated by jihadi extremists belonging to Al Nusra and other Al Qaeda-linked terror groups.
Thus, the Western governments’ and media narrative about «moderate rebels» and civilians being besieged by a «brutal» offensive allegedly carried out by the Syrian army and its allies was dramatically exposed as downright falsehood and lies. Aleppo was liberated.
Period. So-called «moderate rebels» were nowhere to be seen. The reign of terror imposed on eastern Aleppo was the creation of Western states covertly sponsoring extremists to prosecute their criminal designs for regime change in Syria.
That strategic victory in Aleppo gave Moscow and Iran the impetus to broker a nationwide ceasefire, along with Turkey, even though the latter has been a key sponsor of various anti-government militant factions.
That ceasefire is aimed at facilitating political negotiations between the government of President Bashar al Assad and opposition groups in the Kazakh capital of Astana later this month.
Significantly, Washington, London and Paris were left in the lurch about those talks, although the Western powers gave their endorsements at the UNSC last weekend.
Of course, as with previous Syrian ceasefires, the internationally proscribed terror groups are not covered by the truce. They include the Islamic State (IS or Daesh) and Jabhat al Nusra (also known as Jabhat Fateh al Sham).
The Syrian government forces reserved the right to continue their campaign to defeat the terror groups while at the same time signing up to the latest ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey.
A sample of recent Western media headlines reveals the warped geopolitical agenda on Syria.
Britain’s Guardian reported: «Hundreds flee as Assad’s forces bomb Barada valley rebels». It added: «Mountainous region near Damascus targeted with days of air strikes and shelling despite nationwide ceasefire».
Notably, the Guardian obscures that the «rebels» who are being targeted in the conflict area near Damascus are dominated by the Al Nusra terrorist group which is not a party to the ceasefire.
The Guardian is implying that it is the «regime» which is acting in bad faith. In one paragraph at the end, the drinking-water issue is reported, but only obliquely as if it is a minor matter unrelated to why the government forces are determined to take control:
«The Barada valley is the primary source of water for the capital and its surrounding region. The government assault has coincided with a severe water shortage in Damascus since 22 December. The government says rebels [sic] spoiled the water source with diesel fuel, forcing it to cut supplies to the capital».
Similarly, the BBC reports: «Rebels [sic] threaten to boycott Astana talks». It goes on: «A statement signed by a number of groups cited ‘many and large violations’ of the ceasefire by the Syrian government as the reason».
Needless to say, the BBC does not clarify that these «rebels» have the same chameleonic relationship with the terrorist Al Nusra, nor that these «rebels» have been involved in poisoning the capital’s water supply.
In a reprise of the Aleppo fake narrative, Britain’s Daily Telegraph headlined: «Civilians ‘killed by barrel bomb attacks’ on rebel-held [sic] areas near Damascus».
And perhaps the worse deception was the following from French-based Euronews which reported: «Syrian rebels [sic] freeze peace talks ‘until ceasefire is fully implemented’».
Incredibly, the news outlet makes no mention of the fact that the «rebels» have cut off the capital from drinking-water supplies, which is why the government forces are urgently trying to retake the area.
An enigmatic paragraph in its «report» stated: «The main violations have been reportedly in an area northwest of Damascus in the rebel-held Wadi Barada valley, where government forces and the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group have been trying to press advances in an ongoing campaign».
Ironically, it should be noted, Euronews declares the following mission statement on its company website: «Our duty is to give you the right amount of information so you can form your own opinion about the world».
What to make of it all?
The British and French governments, and accordingly the main news media in those countries, have been key purveyors of the regime-change project in Syria to topple the Assad government.
To be sure, Washington has been the main architect in the regime-change project. But, strangely perhaps, the American media have been relatively muted on the conflict in Syria this week. The British and French appear to be taking the lead in spinning.
Together, they have provided a political and moral cover for illegally armed insurgents comprising terrorist groups like Al Nusra by systematically creating a false narrative of «moderate rebels» fighting against a «barbaric regime» and its Russian ally.
The liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian army and its Russia ally utterly exposed the Western propaganda lie.
Now that Russia has gone on to facilitate a nationwide ceasefire and possible political negotiations aimed at a genuine peace settlement, the West is doing its best to scupper the initiative – no doubt out of resentment over Aleppo and the defeat of its regime change project.
The Western endorsement of the Astana talks at the UNSC last weekend was only an empty public relations exercise. (How else could they have voted without outing themselves as terror-sponsors?)
Terrorist groups that were never part of the latest ceasefire are trying to cut off the capital and four million residents from drinking water. Yet when the Syrian government forces go after the culprits in the watershed area of Wadi Barada, the Western media are once again spinning for terrorist groups by claiming that Assad’s military is violating the ceasefire.
Evidently, the Western sponsors of the regime-change proxies cannot abide Russia making progress to resolve a war that the West largely instigated in the first place.
And so the shameless Western media are at it again, serving up distortions and lies to cover up for their criminal governments and their terrorist proxies.
FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | SCF