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By Syria Tribune


Category: By Syria Tribune

Amid the pain that squeezes every Syrian’s heart to see the violence in Syria reaching an unprecedented level, we as observers have the obligation to try to cast some light on the events, using, as usual, an evidence-based approach to journalism that we hope has managed to gain our readers’ confidence over the past months of the Syrian crisis.

Due to the urgent nature of today’s issue, we will present our points briefly and straight to the point. In this report, we will try to answer three questions:

Who is the Syrian army fighting in Homs today?

Who is assaulting civilians?

How credible is the media coverage of the events in Syria today?

 

 

Who is the Syrian army fighting in Homs today?

Some news channels have been presenting a remarkable ability in swinging to and fro between talking about the militia now famous worldwide under the code name “The Syrian Free Army (or Syria Free Army)” on one side, and talking about the Syrian army attacking civilians on the other.

In this video, published yesterday Feb 5th, an armed group calling itself “ALLAH Men” is announcing that it had occupied Rastan, a small village near Homs, involved in today’s military operation.

This video, also published yesterday, shows the same group using explosives to blow off a police station in the same area.

This video, published 5 days ago, shows a militiaman bragging about attacking and destroying a police checkpoint in Bab Al Draib, Homs. We can clearly see the police vehicle (the word POLICE in Arabic is shown clearly) completely destroyed.

This video, published today, Feb 6th, shows militia in a neighborhood in Homs, including women carrying machine guns and RPG missile launchers.

This video, published yesterday, shows a group of militiamen, also in Rastan, bragging about storming an army barrack in the area.

This video, published two days ago (Feb 4th), shows militiamen bragging about abducting Syrian soldiers in Khalidia, Homs.

There is a large number of similar self incriminating videos that show the wide presence of militiamen in Homs and the neighboring villages, which are the areas where the Syrian army is operating today. This is supported by numerous posts on opposition Facebook pages talking about victory stories and prevalence of FSA fighters in different areas in Syria, especially in Homs.

Over the past two days, Syria Tribune was able to collect testimonies from many civilians in Homs, stating the wide presence of militiamen in many neighborhoods in the city, including disturbing incidents where families were forced out of their homes at gunpoint, especially in the Christian neighborhood of Hamidya. We abstain from mentioning names at the moment, due to security concerns, but all testimonies are recorded for future verification.

On the other hand:

Al-Akhbar newspaper (Lebanon) published a detailed report covering the presence of a backup territory in the Lebanese area of Wadi Khalid, buzzing with militiamen, fully armed, and very verbal about their intentions to fight in Homs. Please check the report that contains video footage showing those militiamen here, here, and here.

On Alarabiya news channel (KSA), in this report, Ammar Alwawi, a member of FSA, said that “every soldier and officer in the Syrian army is a legitimate target for FSA”, and that “FSA will hit Damascus, all of Damascus”, before the channel presenter corrected him: “You mean military and security centers, not civilian targets, don’t you?”. He concluded: “We are declaring an armed movement all over the country.”

We can clearly see from the above that the Syrian army is actually facing a paramilitary network, consisting of armed groups working under the umbrella name of SFA.

 

Who is assaulting civilians?

Concurrently with the UNSC discussions regarding the Syrian crisis, many media outlets escalated their campaigns, focusing on one claim: The Syrian army is assaulting civilians in Homs. The testimonies Syria Tribune gathered from the city was clear in stating that, on the contrary, civilians not supporting the opposition were the ones assaulted excessively over the past week. The testimonies, all recorded for future verification, summarized the assaults as follows:

Shelling pro-government neighborhoods with mortars.

Forcing families to flee Homs at gunpoint.

Death threats issued to many who do not support the opposition.

Awaiting more evidence that should leak after the military operation returns the city to the government’s control, we can provide the following:

KhalidyaThe footage shown on Aljazeera last Saturday as proof for the alleged massacre in Khalidya, Homs, contains images like the one in the frame to the left. The victims, who supposedly died in the “random bombardment”, are shown with their hands tied up. Why would they be tied up under bombardment? And why are their bodies intact, not in pieces as one would expect? This supports the other story, saying those were the kidnapped civilians abducted over the past weeks by armed militia, killed and gathered in one place. Those who were shooting the video did not find enough time to untie them.

This terrible video shows the armed groups near Idleb, bragging about executing a civilian accused of being a “regime spy”. The victim, identified as Mohamad Meri, was caught talking to the Arab League observers last month, as shown in the same video above. We strongly believe that he was punished for it, as the AL Observers report came largely in favor of the Syrian government.

This video shows an FSA group bragging about capturing some Iranian men, and claiming they were fighting with the Syrian army. One couldn’t help wondering why soldiers and officers would carry their passports with them to the battlefield, especially in a secret mission like this. The Iranian authorities stated that the kidnapped were civilian workers in a power plant in Homs.

There is credible evidence that the armed groups working under the umbrella name FSA have been assaulting civilians for months. We will wait for a more secure situation in the city of Homs before we publish the testimonies we have, especially with regards to forcing families out of their homes.

 

How credible is the media coverage of the events in Syria today?

 

Beside what we have already mentioned above regarding the alleged massacre in Khalidya the night before the UNSC meeting (Also discussed by Syria Tribune Editor on RT in this coverage), there have been some questionable reports over the past few hours.

Earlier today, Aljazeera posted a news flash claiming that the Syrian army is using military aircrafts to bombard Baba Amro in Homs, and although Aljazeera Mobashar, the live channel, was broadcasting live from the area, we saw no aircrafts at all, although the “eye witness” was claiming that they were in action as he spoke.

In this CNN report, the alleged “eye witness”, the one and only Danny Abdul Dayem, famous for his contradicting stories that he told BBC last year, claims they counted up to 500 causalities, amongst which over 200 died. But the burial ceremony the next day did not show the number of coffins any close to this. Moreover, no video footages were posted apart from the questionable one that appeared the same day, with victims tied up.

This video, produced by a Facebook network, shows a comparison between images posted by Syria Alshaab Channel on its Facebook page, and images from other places, such as Palestine. It is very clear that the channel forged its coverage, using fake images from other places, claiming they are for victims in Homs.

In this report on Alarabiya News Channel, the “eye witness” speaking with amazing coordination with the news presenter, claims the Syrian army is using “thermal rockets” (!!) in its shelling, as well as helicopters, again with no concrete proof, despite the live coverage accompanying the report.

 

Although the image is still not completely clear, we urge all our readers to practice the maximum skepticism on what they will be hearing in the news today and the coming days.

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