#Aleppo is on fire, alright. But, it doesn’t look quite the way the Western Mainstream Media reports it. On April 28th, the New York times reported, Divided Aleppo Plunges Back Into War as Syrian Hospital Is Hit. The article gives context to events in the first paragraph as follows: “as they reeled from government airstrikes that demolished a hospital in the insurgent-held side and from retaliatory mortar assaults by rebels on the government-held side.” It goes on to quantify the casualties on the ‘rebel’ side and to give details of the destruction there. Twitter is aflutter with #AleppoBurning and #AleppoHospital tweets castigating the government forces for violating the cease fire and attacking a hospital, ‘killing the last pediatrician in Aleppo’.
I don’t know about the strike on the hospital. I don’t know if the hospital was a hospital before the war, and if not, it it was identified as a hospital for forces. The claim is that it was, in which case there is not justification for bombing the site. However, the context of this report is all wrong. The bombing of the hospital was not the beginning of this battle, nor a peremptory violation of the cease fire. And though it is a tragedy that people were killed, that a doctor was killed, the Dr. was not the last pediatrician in Aleppo nor can we be certain that the majority of casualties among the U.S. supported fighters holding a small portion of the city of Aleppo.
According to a journalist in Aleppo writing under the name Edward Dark, there are 2 million people in the government held portion of Aleppo, and 200 thousand in the so called ‘rebel held’ area, which he claims is populated by Al Nusra and their associates. On April 30th, he posted:
Food4thought: west-backed rebels shelled w Aleppo(2million) 4 days not a word, gov shells east(200k) = international front pages. Y? #Syria
— Edward Dark (@edwardedark) April 30, 2016
Also another fyi to keep in mind, 4000+ civilians have been killed by rebel shelling on w Aleppo in last 4 years, 10 x that mutilated #Syria
— Edward Dark (@edwardedark) April 30, 2016Pics: rebel bombs also fall on a busy market in Jamilieh west Aleppo today. Casualties in the dozens
Edward Dark has not been a consistent supporter of the Assad government over the course of the war. However, he has the facts on the ground, and continues to report them as he sees them. I followed his tweets going back in time, to find the following: It appears that the hospital was bombed on the 28th of April. Dark tweeted reports of devastating bombing in Aleppo on April 28, 29 and 30. He posted 7 tweets on the 28th:
- “Pics: children in Midan w Aleppo butchered by terrorist rebel rockets today.”
- “Our children massacred by “moderate” west backed “freedom” rebels in W Aleppo”
- “West Aleppo is being brutally destroyed right now. Dozens of terrorist rebel bombs falling everywhere, massacring everyone.”
- “People of west Aleppo are being butchered now by the terrorist rebel bastards & their backers”
- “West Aleppo is simply being obliterated by rebel shelling. A city of 2 million people is being butchered”
- “Carnage and devastation as “moderate” rebel bombs fall on West Aleppo today”
- “Pics: huge destruction in the Armenian neighborhood of Midan, west Aleppo today after rebel shelling”
On the 27th, he tweeted a video of bombing in West Aleppo from ANNA, a Russian news outlet.
On the 26th:
- “terrorist rebel bombs are still falling on W Aleppo. Many schools & businesses closed. Private Hospitals offering free treatment”
I’ve skipped the rants.
On the 25th:
- “Terrorist rebels shell christian area of Sleimanieh west Aleppo today, murdering many people”
— Edward Dark (@edwardedark) April 25, 2016
- “West Aleppo is literally being butchered by terrorist rebels bombs everywhere. We hold nations that back them accountable 4 warcrimes”
On the 24th:
- “West Aleppo going through night of absolute terror. Explosions & Bombs falling everywhere fired by terrorist rebels indiscriminately” and
- “The terrorist rebel bombs are still now falling on west Aleppo & massacring people. Meanwhile silence from media, silence from NGO’s”,
and more. On the 23rd:
- “Once more, west Aleppo is being shelled indiscriminately today by dozens of rockets and missiles from those “freedom fighter” rebels “.
So, it looks like the bombing started on the 23rd with shelling from the ‘rebels’ causing numerous casualties among the civilians living in the government held areas. It had been going on for as many as five days when the government retaliation struck the hospital, but the ‘rebel’ bombing was not publicized by the international press. In fact, it was ignored until that time. It isn’t like the news wasn’t available. Not only was the ongoing situation tweeted by Edward Dark and others, but it was covered in the Syrian and Russian, and most likely the Iranian Press. It is as if, the Western Press won’t cover any event they didn’t imagine or don’t find convenient to the story they want to tell.
I don’t know about this particular hospital as we don’t have a lot of details. We do know that MSF supports some hospitals in Syria with money and supplies, but they don’t have any direct personnel on the ground there. It is too dangerous. They don’t operate in the government held areas at all. The fact that we are hearing an endless tale of hospitals under attack is, at least in part, a propaganda initiative based on the visceral reaction of the public to the United States bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. This is an interesting association because the attack in Kunduz was particularly painful for westerners because, although it was never framed in that way, it was essentially an instance of “Friendly Fire”. MSF is a western NGO. U.S. troops struck one of our own NGO outposts for some reason.
This is not to say that there aren’t any government strikes on hospitals in Syria, or that it’s OK that some have occurred. Certainly the U.S. backed rebels in Syria and their Al Qaeda and ISIS cohorts have struck their fair share of hospitals and schools, and other centers of civilian activity as Edward Dark reports just from the last few days. I’m sure atrocities are happening on all sides. War is ugly. It’s evil and once the violence begins, all humanity is threatened. It is the Qur’an that says “if you kill one person you kill all of humanity. If you save one life, you save the world.” (A rough transcription from memory)
This is why it is such a terrible crime that the United States spent years creating the circumstances to trigger this war. The United States has given a green light to allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to train, arm and fund fighters from inside and outside of Syria to make war on the government, a Crime Against Peace. According to the Nuremberg judges, this is the worst crime. The United States continues, after 5 years of devastating horror, to arm and to fund an army of foreign mercenaries in Syria, an ongoing war crime. The United States leads the world in creating a ‘conspiracy theory’, worse, a bold faced lie, about what is going on in Syria, and publicizing it to the four corners of the globe as truth. This is a whole other order of crime, a crime against, what? A crime against truth? against sanity?
Yes, the United States, the ‘exceptional state’, demands that all negotiations take place in the context of their perverse vision of the truth, thereby undermining any possibility of reconciliation. And so, we can expect that, in the coming days and weeks, months and years, more hospitals and schools will be bombed and more children murdered in Syria.
So, before we judge others, perhaps we should evaluate our own position.
ps – Yesterday, the New York Times carried and article by veteran war reporter, Declan Walsh, who is On the Ground in Aleppo with a Syrian government escort. He relates the U.S. party line on events in ‘rebel’ held areas of Aleppo, and points out that the government is better armed than their adversaries, BUT he also lets the people around him tell their stories. Those are the stories of the civilians in the government held area, a civilian enclave that constitutes the majority.of Allepans. It isn’t safe for Westerners to go to the domain of the U.S. backed ‘rebels’ because Americans aren’t safe in areas governed by Al Nusra and ISIS fighters.