UK Foreign Secretary Hunt Meets the Head of the Syrian White Helmets

Introduction — Nov 4, 2018

Elements in the Western media are no longer seriously investigating “terrorism”, they are complicit in providing what amounts to cover stories for Western governments and alibis for terrorists.
This has been evident since 9/11, when the corporate media reported the official version of events without questions.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt meets Raed al-Saleh

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt meets Raed al-Saleh

However, the media has now reached new levels of duplicity with its coverage of the Syrian White Helmets. Unfortunately, that duplicity isn’t confined to the corporate media. It now reaches the highest levels of government in the West too.
Last Thursday British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met Raed al-Saleh, the head of the Syrian White Helmets, ostensibly to discuss the group’s work.
Founded by a former British Army Intelligence officer James Le Mesurier, who has gone onto work for private military contractors, the White Helmets have masqueraded as humanitarian rescue workers.
That’s only been an act for the cameras, however. In reality the Syrian White Helmets have also been linked to the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and have effectively functioned as a propaganda outfit for the militants.
There have been numerous reports from credible journalists about the White Helmets links with militants, so what was Jeremy Hunt REALLY discussing with Raed al-Saleh?
The Guardian article below doesn’t really tell us. It just reiterates the same old western lies about Assad and his allies being “responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths.” Without a hint of the role played by the White Helmets.
However, Raed al-Saleh didn’t confine his criticism to President Assad or his Iranian allies.
He took the opportunity the Guardian provided to warn that the West should be wary of Russia and not “trust guarantees provided by them”.
In other words after the West had tried, and failed, to oust Syrian President Assad the West is lining up the next target. With the Western corporate media now dutifully complying by portraying President Putin as a potential threat. Even as Britain’s foreign secretary meets with a man who has been closely tied with al Qaeda.
Nor did Jeremy Hunt meet with Raed al-Saleh. He praised the White Helmets saying, “The UK is proud to stand behind them.” Ed.
White Helmets with al Qaeda militants. Click to enlarge

White Helmets with al Qaeda militants. Click to enlarge

Millions of Syrians at risk if Idlib truce fails, White Helmets warn

Emma Graham-Harrison — The Guardian Nov 3, 2018

The head of Syria’s White Helmet volunteers has told Britain’s foreign secretary that the west must do more to protect millions of civilians still in extreme danger, and warned that reconstruction should not begin without justice or accountability.

Raed al-Saleh said Moscow’s record of broken promises meant he had little confidence in a ceasefire brokered between Russia and Turkey in September. The agreement halted a planned advance on Idlib, one of the last parts of Syria still outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad, and currently home to more than 3 million people.

But similar agreements in other parts of Syria have proved a prelude to siege, brutal bombardment and eventual evacuation, and Saleh said he wanted to remind Jeremy Hunt that western support was vital to save lives.

“We would emphasise that we cannot rely on the Russians or trust guarantees provided by them, because we have seen how their commitments were fake in previous de-escalation zones in Homs, in Daraa, in eastern Ghouta,” Saleh said before his meeting with Hunt last week. “So we need more commitment from the western world to protect the Syrian people.”

Western powers, such as Turkey, have strategic, as well as humanitarian, incentives to avoid an all-out assault on Idlib. Previous offensives have ended with mass evacuations, as opposition supporters retreated to other parts of shrinking territory, but Idlib is the last major stronghold. If it is attacked or falls, residents will have to surrender to Assad’s forces or try to cross the border into Turkey.

“A military offensive means a disaster, and not only for Idlib,” Saleh said. “It will have an impact on neighbouring countries, as it would push hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people to march to the border trying to escape.”

Turkey already hosts more than 3.5 million Syrians and has closed its border to refugees. But a huge surge of desperate civilians fleeing might pose a serious challenge to that closed-door policy; some among the exodus might also try to push onwards towards Europe.

Saleh hopes that a longer-term ceasefire deal might help to reverse the flow of Syrians abroad. The White Helmets have used the weeks of calm since the September deal to start small-scale reconstruction, clearing rubble to build a park, and restoring power lines. “We believe there is very important work to be done on stabilisation, with the potential to reduce the scale of the refugee crisis, by improving life conditions inside Syria, and maybe inspiring people to return, and paving the way for reconstruction,” said Saleh.

But he warned against western support for larger, national reconstruction programmes unless there is justice for the dead and jailed. In August, Vladimir Putin urged the international community to start rebuilding Syria so refugees can return, and there have been calls to speed up efforts to broker an end to the war, even if that means leaving Assad in power.

But the fears and frustrations that drove the civil war have only been exacerbated by it, Saleh said. Although Isis atrocities dominated international news for years, Assad and his allies are responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths.

“There are parties currently who want to try to claim that it’s time now for reconstruction and constitutional reform as if the crisis had ended, which is not true,” Saleh said, laying out his message for Hunt.

“We want to send a message that there is a need for accountability first in order to build peace. We cannot practically work on reconstruction and constitutional reform if there is no political solution, and there is no transitional justice and accountability mechanisms.”

The White Helmets have been hailed for their humanitarian search and rescue work on the frontlines of Syria’s brutal civil war. But Saleh said they are worried about the impact of extensive campaigns of disinformation, which have falsely claimed the group stage rescue efforts and attack scenes, and that they have links to extremist groups.

“Imagine when someone is putting his life in danger to rescue others, then he hears that people are calling them a bad guy or terrorist. That over time may affect the morale of the volunteers.”

“We are very keen to keep the support of ordinary people around the world. The disinformation campaign causes distraction and affects how people view and understand the situation.”

After the meeting on Thursday, Hunt paid tribute to the courage of the White Helmets and said Britain, which helped arrange asylum for hundreds of members trapped by a summer offensive, would continue to support the group.

“The White Helmets risked life and limb to save over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, despite attacks at the hands of the Syrian regime and the Russian military,” Hunt said. “The UK is proud to stand behind them.”

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