Friday, 19 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

In War, the Truth Dies First: The Tremseh "Massacre" and Syria's Fate

Thursday, 02 August 2012 17:00 By Hans Springstein, Der Freitag | News Analysis

The drums of war – sorry, “humanitarian intervention” – have been beating for Syria for months now. In June I translated a piece by Uwe-Jürgen Ness on the disastrous consequences of military intervention in Libya and the similarities to the Syrian conflict.Some in the media now acknowledge that NATO and their proxy, the Al-Qaeda affiliate Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), were responsible for many of the atrocities they blamed on the Qaddafi regime. But even progressive English-language sources like Democracy Now! and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera have failed to cover reports like this one in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (English at Moon of Alabama), in which eyewitnesses contradict the account of the Houla massacre given by the Free Syrian Army (and parroted by the mainstream media).

Frankly, the German-language press has been better about this. This July 14 piece by Hans Springstein in the German weekly Der Freitag analyzes the most recent “massacre” in Hama and cites sources that indicate responsibility of the rebels as well as a falsification of the number of civilian deaths in media reports. The piece also discusses points virtually untouched by the Anglophone media: that rebels prevented civilians from leaving Homs in 2011; that these “massacres” tend to occur right before important multilateral deadlines; that it is only the rebels requesting outside intervention whose interests are served by civilian deaths, as it is in the Assad regime’s interest to minimize them.

I have translated the text in its entirety (adding English sources where possible) below.

- Kumars Salehi

“Massacre to Order”

By  Hans Springstein, Der Freitag - July 14, 2012

Syria The next alleged massacre by Syrian government troops is being reported. An intervention will be seen as the only answer.

A new alleged massacre is being reported from the province of Hama. Three days ago I wrote: “The next suitable massacre is certain to come (unfortunately).” It will be the worst so far. And once again, Syrian government troops will be blamed for it. “All stops will be pulled out to justify intervention, action on ‘humanitarian’ grounds,” I assessed on July 10.

This assessment is not at all difficult when looking at the development of the Syrian conflict. I have expressed my views on this topic numerous times. The armed “rebels” and the “Syrian National Council” (SNC) have again and again requested action from the “international community”. They require the help of Western bombs; otherwise, they cannot achieve their “holy objective” to topple President Bashar al-Assad alone. Their wish has so far not been fulfilled. In order that this does still come to pass, therefore, they will spare no effort and no victims. To this end, their Western backers have turned “over 200 victims” in the report into “up to 300 victims” in the headline. Whoever is troubled by a couple victims more or less is no longer of any consequence.

I continue to stand by my skepticism and my doubt with the respect to such reports. One reason for this is given by William Blum, former employee of the US State Department and author of the book “Killing Hope” about US interventions since 1945, in a piece from April 6, 2012: “Putting Syria into some perspective”. In that piece, he quotes Wikileaks-published emails from the private news service Stratfor that show, for example, that the “opposition” reports from SNC, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the much-quoted Observatory in London about the alleged massacre by government troops in Homs in late 2011 were false. Stratfor’s follow-up investigations produced no supporting evidence. Nevertheless, reports of the alleged massacre dominated international headlines.

In contrast, private intelligence officers also claim that such reports will provoke anintervention like that in Libya. Blum indicates that on account of this, Stratfor also considers massacres by government troops unlikely, since Syrian forces in combat against the “rebels” have been specifically prepared to avoid the high civilian body counts that could lead to an intervention on “humanitarian grounds”. This can also be found in a Huffington Post entry from December 19, 2011.

It is no accident that such reports of atrocities always accompany deadlines pertaining to the Syrian conflict. Hence the UN Security Council convened on the topic of Syria the day of the alleged massacre. The West is calling for harsher sanctions, which Russia rejects.

Appropriately, the current massacre reports also contain the request of SNC member Basma Kadhmani: “Nations with the serious intention of protecting the Syrian people must come together and act – if need be, also outside the framework of the Security Council.” And the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, of all groups, assigns partial blame for the presumed massacre to UN envoy Kofi Annan. Supposedly, not only Assad is guilty of the crime, but also Annan, as well as Iran, Russia and “all those states who claim they are protecting peace and stability yet stay silent and skulk away from taking any responsibility,” [English from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/world/middleeast/syria-says-defecting-ambassador-is-fired.html - KS] the Islamist movement declared, according tosuddeutsche.de. Meanwhile, they compare the situation to Rwanda; Srebrenica will no longer suffice. Recall that the CIA also works with the Muslim Brotherhood in supervising the arms supply to Syrian “rebels”, as the New York Times reported.

As expected, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed, according to Reuters, “there was ‘indisputable evidence that the regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians.’ The UN Security Council must now assure the regime in Damascus that it should fear the consequences.” Yet, meanwhile, even the BBC has become cautious about such reports:It is unclear what led to the violence in Tremseh. Moreover, the BBC points to activists’ differing representations of what occurred. BBC correspondent Jim Muir writes that so far, videos show only dead young men. This fits the Syrian reports claiming that “rebels” were killed in combat with the army.

It is indisputable that there have been civilian casualties resulting from combat between government forces and the “rebels”. On whose account is indicates by such reports as this one from Homs in June: “There is truce between the Syrian army and rebels: after long and difficult negotiations, a cease-fire agreement was reached to allow the release of civilians trapped in Homs. However, say Fides sources in Homs, the evacuation had not started yet because the rebels have not yet given ‘green light’, while locals refer [to] the use of mortar fire on the city this morning.” [English fromhttp://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31777&;lan=eng - KS] Dead civilians only benefit the “rebels”, bringing them closer to the desired Western aerial support. The Syrian regime and Assad get nothing from them except condemnation from the “international community”.

According to the Catholic news agency FIDES, the “Mussalaha” initiative in the region has nevertheless succeeded in evacuating civilians from Homs. But: “The initiative ‘Mussalaha’, which is gaining ground, despite the civil war, in different areas of Syria, is accused by some of being ‘an expression of the regime’ or a ‘propaganda tool’” [English fromhttp://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31915&;lan=eng - KS], the agency reports. This is only one example of how the “rebels” create victims, in order to utilize them in the propaganda war. I have pointed to other examples in the past. Whoever takes a stand against them is villainized at the very least, as Kofi Annan is now experiencing, or faces much worse.

I fear the massacre-cacophony will not end. Thus, a peaceful solution will be made impossible. How this covert war will set back Syria’s development, and what of the country will be destroyed, that is revealed by (among others) the UN International Human Development Indicator for Syria.

Addendum at 13:50: More information about the supposed massacre can be found at hintergrund.de. And since information from one side will be relayed in detail in this country, but hardly anything from the Syrian government, here is an indexed version of the current report on the event from the Syrian news agency SANA. [page now unavailable – KS]

Addendum at 20:28: RIA Novosti provides the following report [not reported in the English version of the site – KS]: “After the massacre in the Syrian village of Tremseh, the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) admitted that the majority of casualties were not civilians, but armed anti-government militants. Seven civilians, not 100 as previously reported, were killed in Tremseh.

According to preliminary reports the number of civilian casualties amounts to at most seven, an FSA spokesperson told the agency AFP [Agence France-Presse – KS]. The others are comprised of FSA members. These reports were also confirmed by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).”

The aforementioned AFP can be found among other places in a report from the French newspaper Le Point. I have not found them in German sources.

Addendum from July 16, 2012: “Attack on Tremseh Attributed to Rebels” This has been confirmed by UN observers, according to an ARD [Consortium of Public-law Broadcasting Institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany - KS] report. 

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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In War, the Truth Dies First: The Tremseh "Massacre" and Syria's Fate

Thursday, 02 August 2012 17:00 By Hans Springstein, Der Freitag | News Analysis

The drums of war – sorry, “humanitarian intervention” – have been beating for Syria for months now. In June I translated a piece by Uwe-Jürgen Ness on the disastrous consequences of military intervention in Libya and the similarities to the Syrian conflict.Some in the media now acknowledge that NATO and their proxy, the Al-Qaeda affiliate Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), were responsible for many of the atrocities they blamed on the Qaddafi regime. But even progressive English-language sources like Democracy Now! and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera have failed to cover reports like this one in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (English at Moon of Alabama), in which eyewitnesses contradict the account of the Houla massacre given by the Free Syrian Army (and parroted by the mainstream media).

Frankly, the German-language press has been better about this. This July 14 piece by Hans Springstein in the German weekly Der Freitag analyzes the most recent “massacre” in Hama and cites sources that indicate responsibility of the rebels as well as a falsification of the number of civilian deaths in media reports. The piece also discusses points virtually untouched by the Anglophone media: that rebels prevented civilians from leaving Homs in 2011; that these “massacres” tend to occur right before important multilateral deadlines; that it is only the rebels requesting outside intervention whose interests are served by civilian deaths, as it is in the Assad regime’s interest to minimize them.

I have translated the text in its entirety (adding English sources where possible) below.

- Kumars Salehi

“Massacre to Order”

By  Hans Springstein, Der Freitag - July 14, 2012

Syria The next alleged massacre by Syrian government troops is being reported. An intervention will be seen as the only answer.

A new alleged massacre is being reported from the province of Hama. Three days ago I wrote: “The next suitable massacre is certain to come (unfortunately).” It will be the worst so far. And once again, Syrian government troops will be blamed for it. “All stops will be pulled out to justify intervention, action on ‘humanitarian’ grounds,” I assessed on July 10.

This assessment is not at all difficult when looking at the development of the Syrian conflict. I have expressed my views on this topic numerous times. The armed “rebels” and the “Syrian National Council” (SNC) have again and again requested action from the “international community”. They require the help of Western bombs; otherwise, they cannot achieve their “holy objective” to topple President Bashar al-Assad alone. Their wish has so far not been fulfilled. In order that this does still come to pass, therefore, they will spare no effort and no victims. To this end, their Western backers have turned “over 200 victims” in the report into “up to 300 victims” in the headline. Whoever is troubled by a couple victims more or less is no longer of any consequence.

I continue to stand by my skepticism and my doubt with the respect to such reports. One reason for this is given by William Blum, former employee of the US State Department and author of the book “Killing Hope” about US interventions since 1945, in a piece from April 6, 2012: “Putting Syria into some perspective”. In that piece, he quotes Wikileaks-published emails from the private news service Stratfor that show, for example, that the “opposition” reports from SNC, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the much-quoted Observatory in London about the alleged massacre by government troops in Homs in late 2011 were false. Stratfor’s follow-up investigations produced no supporting evidence. Nevertheless, reports of the alleged massacre dominated international headlines.

In contrast, private intelligence officers also claim that such reports will provoke anintervention like that in Libya. Blum indicates that on account of this, Stratfor also considers massacres by government troops unlikely, since Syrian forces in combat against the “rebels” have been specifically prepared to avoid the high civilian body counts that could lead to an intervention on “humanitarian grounds”. This can also be found in a Huffington Post entry from December 19, 2011.

It is no accident that such reports of atrocities always accompany deadlines pertaining to the Syrian conflict. Hence the UN Security Council convened on the topic of Syria the day of the alleged massacre. The West is calling for harsher sanctions, which Russia rejects.

Appropriately, the current massacre reports also contain the request of SNC member Basma Kadhmani: “Nations with the serious intention of protecting the Syrian people must come together and act – if need be, also outside the framework of the Security Council.” And the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, of all groups, assigns partial blame for the presumed massacre to UN envoy Kofi Annan. Supposedly, not only Assad is guilty of the crime, but also Annan, as well as Iran, Russia and “all those states who claim they are protecting peace and stability yet stay silent and skulk away from taking any responsibility,” [English from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/world/middleeast/syria-says-defecting-ambassador-is-fired.html - KS] the Islamist movement declared, according tosuddeutsche.de. Meanwhile, they compare the situation to Rwanda; Srebrenica will no longer suffice. Recall that the CIA also works with the Muslim Brotherhood in supervising the arms supply to Syrian “rebels”, as the New York Times reported.

As expected, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed, according to Reuters, “there was ‘indisputable evidence that the regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians.’ The UN Security Council must now assure the regime in Damascus that it should fear the consequences.” Yet, meanwhile, even the BBC has become cautious about such reports:It is unclear what led to the violence in Tremseh. Moreover, the BBC points to activists’ differing representations of what occurred. BBC correspondent Jim Muir writes that so far, videos show only dead young men. This fits the Syrian reports claiming that “rebels” were killed in combat with the army.

It is indisputable that there have been civilian casualties resulting from combat between government forces and the “rebels”. On whose account is indicates by such reports as this one from Homs in June: “There is truce between the Syrian army and rebels: after long and difficult negotiations, a cease-fire agreement was reached to allow the release of civilians trapped in Homs. However, say Fides sources in Homs, the evacuation had not started yet because the rebels have not yet given ‘green light’, while locals refer [to] the use of mortar fire on the city this morning.” [English fromhttp://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31777&;lan=eng - KS] Dead civilians only benefit the “rebels”, bringing them closer to the desired Western aerial support. The Syrian regime and Assad get nothing from them except condemnation from the “international community”.

According to the Catholic news agency FIDES, the “Mussalaha” initiative in the region has nevertheless succeeded in evacuating civilians from Homs. But: “The initiative ‘Mussalaha’, which is gaining ground, despite the civil war, in different areas of Syria, is accused by some of being ‘an expression of the regime’ or a ‘propaganda tool’” [English fromhttp://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31915&;lan=eng - KS], the agency reports. This is only one example of how the “rebels” create victims, in order to utilize them in the propaganda war. I have pointed to other examples in the past. Whoever takes a stand against them is villainized at the very least, as Kofi Annan is now experiencing, or faces much worse.

I fear the massacre-cacophony will not end. Thus, a peaceful solution will be made impossible. How this covert war will set back Syria’s development, and what of the country will be destroyed, that is revealed by (among others) the UN International Human Development Indicator for Syria.

Addendum at 13:50: More information about the supposed massacre can be found at hintergrund.de. And since information from one side will be relayed in detail in this country, but hardly anything from the Syrian government, here is an indexed version of the current report on the event from the Syrian news agency SANA. [page now unavailable – KS]

Addendum at 20:28: RIA Novosti provides the following report [not reported in the English version of the site – KS]: “After the massacre in the Syrian village of Tremseh, the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) admitted that the majority of casualties were not civilians, but armed anti-government militants. Seven civilians, not 100 as previously reported, were killed in Tremseh.

According to preliminary reports the number of civilian casualties amounts to at most seven, an FSA spokesperson told the agency AFP [Agence France-Presse – KS]. The others are comprised of FSA members. These reports were also confirmed by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).”

The aforementioned AFP can be found among other places in a report from the French newspaper Le Point. I have not found them in German sources.

Addendum from July 16, 2012: “Attack on Tremseh Attributed to Rebels” This has been confirmed by UN observers, according to an ARD [Consortium of Public-law Broadcasting Institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany - KS] report. 

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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