‘Wrong victims’ of Syria war left voiceless by mainstream media, condemn West for their suffering

24th July 2019

First published at RT.

Jean Ibrahim was 9 years old when western-backed terrorist groups targeted his school with mortars in 2014. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

Now that the Syrian Arab Army and allies have swept much of Syria clean of the terrorist groups introduced into the country by the US interventionist alliance, the civilian trauma is surfacing and is being processed.

In 2005, playwright Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech sent shock waves around the ruling establishment. During the speech, Pinter described the US strategy of “low intensity” conflict: 

Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom.” 

The West established the malignant growth in Syria and the wider region, the terrorist groups are a cancer that the Syrian Arab Army and the people of Syria have been battling to contain and cauterise before it spreads to the rest of the world. The gangrene can be perceived as the trauma, the effects of this externally-fomented conflict upon the Syrian people. 

No war is without victims, but in the West we only hear about the right kind of victims, those that squeeze into the narrow, mono-dimensional frame of the Syrian conflict. A frame manufactured by the ruling globalists and their PR cohorts in their aligned media institutions who have willingly provided the coverage that conceals the obscene crimes of their own governments while inventing slogans to criminalise the Syrian government and allies. 

During my trips to Syria, I have been able to interview a number of survivors and relatives of victims of many of the terrorist attacks in different areas of Syria throughout the more than eight years of brutal war waged against these people. 

Photos of children martyred at Al Thawra sports club June 2014 given to Vanessa Beeley by Salam Alawi, President of the club. © Salam Alawi

Habib Raaed’s son was murdered in June 2014. Terrorists embedded in the Damascus suburbs and countryside of Eastern Ghouta targeted the Al Thawra sports club and basketball court with mortars. Three children were murdered in this attack. Habib’s son Elias, Maya Wahbeh and Robert Qoozma whose legs were amputated in the French Hospital – he later died from his awful wounds on 3 July 2014. 

I spoke with Habib in July 2019, he told me: 

My son, from when he was born until the day of the attack, he never hurt anyone, he never insulted anyone… he was playing basketball in this court where we are, he was hit by a shell from those monsters – the monsters created by the hostile nations – he (my son) was killed with two of his friends, many were injured, his sister was next to him but she couldn’t save him, she couldn’t do anything for him.”

His son was effectively murdered twice. Once by the terrorist groups and then secondly by Western media who instinctively denied his existence and therefore his death. Elias was the wrong kind of victim, he was among those who were destined to be dehumanised, diminished to “supporters of the Syrian government” and thus dismissed, reduced to non-people by a media intent on amplifying only the narratives and incidents that served their state agenda in Syria, even if those narratives were questionable in the extreme and often unverified.  

Habib told me that the governments and media in the West were collaborating to destroy Syria and to enable the murder of his son and hundreds of thousands of innocents across Syria – “none of them (governments and media) have any morals […] morals were lost and conscience died – the journalists sold their conscience.” 

Salam Alawi, the president of Al Thawra club, also spoke to me of the 2014 tragedy. She broke down in tears as she remembered the tragic events and the collective grief of the children and parents. Despite this, the community refused to leave their neighborhood even though, at certain times, terrorist groups were within 300 meters of the club, stalking and preying upon a community considered legitimate targets by these extremist, sectarian savages. Salam also spoke about the resilience of the Syrian people, the solidarity with the Syrian Arab Army considered family by these besieged minorities. 

We have to ask the question – if Western media had given airtime to these passionate, patriotic voices, would public consent have been tacitly given for a new round of Western military adventurism with horrific consequences for another target nation? Salam’s testimony decries the Western illusion of “democracy” and calls out the “humanitarian” intervention as false, her words will never be heard in the West because they contradict everything we have been told about the Syrian “conflict” since 2011:

Also in 2014, George Ibrahim and his now 14-year-old son, Jean, went through the trauma of another terrorist attack upon Al Manar elementary school in the Old City of Damascus, in the Bab Touma area. This Armenian Christian school was targeted by mortars in April 2014. As the children were sitting and gathering in the playground in the morning before classes began at 8am, a mortar struck the heart of the courtyard – 9-year-old Jean was suddenly caught up in unimaginable carnage. 

George Ibrahim with his son Jean – revisiting the scene of the 2014 terrorist mortar attack on Al Manar elementary school, Damascus. © Vanessa Beeley

Jean witnessed his best friend, Sinan Mtanious, murdered in front of him – the shrapnel passed through his neck, killing him instantly. Another child, Lauren Bashour, lost her legs in the attack according to the school director, Ghassan Al Issa. Ghassan showed me the exact spot the missile struck, on the steps where children gathered to talk and sit before class. Ghassan said that at least eight children suffered severe injuries, the loss of limbs or hands, multiple shrapnel wounds as the molten metal scythed through their young flesh.

When George came rushing back to the school to rescue his son he was confronted with scenes of bloodshed, shock and horror – he told me that the childrens’ bodies were everywhere, some with limbs missing, many bleeding profusely from their open wounds, but he could not find his son anywhere, his panic was overwhelming. In fact, although grievously injured, Jean had somehow managed to stagger to the school entrance and had been bundled into the first ambulance by the SAA soldiers who had rushed to help the children. When George finally found his son, it was in the nearby French Hospital where Jean begged his father to “not let him die.” 

In an interview with local media, Jean later demanded to know why the terrorists had done this, why they targeted children in school. Jean warned the terrorists that he “would talk to Jesus and ask him to punish them for their crimes” – even at that age, terribly injured and traumatised, Jean knew that the Western media (the BBC had visited the hospital) would not condemn this massacre nor would they headline his appeals for justice – he was not a ‘Bana’ or an ‘Omran’ – he was altogether the wrong kind of victim. 

Jean was right – despite being in Damascus during the attack and witnessing the savagery of Western-backed armed gangs, the BBC’s Lyse Doucet still managed to spin the story away from condemnation of terrorist attacks and dishonestly in the direction of Syrian government responsibility. 

When George and Jean agreed to talk to me about the attack five years later, in the same school courtyard where the blood of innocents had been shed, they both broke down as the nightmarish memories surfaced and opened wounds that had never been allowed to heal.

As Pinter said

When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror – for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.

State-media journalists in the West have never attempted to smash the mirror, they have presented only one image to the public in the West, an image that does not change regardless of the angle it is observed from – this is a criminal misrepresentation of the complexities and nuances of the Syrian conflict and it is the burial of an entire populace under the filth of lies, hypocrisy and deceit. 

The voices of the vast majority of Syrian people who support their army and her allies in their historic battle against the Western-orchestrated wave of terrorism that has engulfed their homeland have been buried in a shallow grave, without any ceremony or recognition of the scale of their suffering. These people have been forced to bury their children, their mother, their father, their husband, their relatives in silence, and then they too have been entombed by Western media, condemned to a lifetime of grief which has never been given release or relief.  

Imagine you lose your entire family, in many instances tortured and raped before being executed by the sectarian armed gangs that have been allowed to roam Syria – then you are left voiceless, your outrage disabled by Western media, incapacitated by the Western “humanitarian” institutions that would suffocate your appeals for justice. You have effectively been buried alive even after your world has collapsed around you. 

When we take the time to listen to the emerging grief and sorrow expressed by the people who have really endured the effects of this US coalition-proxy-barbarism, we can begin to comprehend the extent to which the narrative has been controlled by the neocolonialist PR complex and perception-control managers in the aligned think tanks and ‘global transformation’ institutions. These organisations claim neutrality or ‘humanitarian’ drivers for their support of intervention but effectively only those who reinforce their pre-established narratives will be elevated to media ‘darling’ status. The authentic victims of this war are marginalised and “disappeared” from our regional looking glass. 

Pinter warns us, in the closing statement of his 2005 acceptance speech: 

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory. If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.”

All the Syrians I spoke to who have endured unimaginable tragedy and loss told me they would never abandon their dignity – the dignity of man. It is our duty to ensure that we, as journalists, as activists, as human beings afford them the right to express their outrage and enable them to be heard. So many Syrians have said to me “even the rocks cry when they witness what has happened to us” – please don’t allow the tears of an entire nation to be shed in vain. 

Cover photo: grandchild of survivor of ISIS massacre in Sweida countryside, July 2018. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

2 thoughts on “‘Wrong victims’ of Syria war left voiceless by mainstream media, condemn West for their suffering

  1. Great work as always Vanessa. Were it not for your reports and those of a handful of others testimonies like these could never be heard in the West by anyone at all, such is the betrayal of the “humanitarian” institutions and the deafening silence of the corporate media when it is not otherwise distorting the truth and regurgitating lies to bolster the official war narrative. Thanks also for reminding us of Pinter’s final speech, which is not only magnificent in the manner of a true artist but, under the circumstances, entirely heroic. He was dying from cancer and yet rather than gratefully receiving the world’s most prestigious accolade and quietly retiring, he chose instead to use this last major public appearance to damn the warmongers and demand justice for the innocent. He is an inspiration, as are you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s