Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Opinion | Media war against Syria’s White Helmets

Volunteers saving a little girl; credit: The White Helmets 

Apart from air attacks and shelling, the Assad regime and its backers worldwide have been launching a propaganda war against Syria’s White Helmets teams (volunteers specialized mainly in civil defence) through distorting and falsifying facts on the ground. This war began immediately after this organization started operating in Syria and it got fiercer with the crystallization of the role of the White Helmets at the end of 2014 and the expansion of their work in most of the Syrian regions.

The propaganda machine has never stopped spreading false allegations about the work of the White Helmets, trying to distort its image, especially since the White Helmets volunteers are the first responders to rescue civilians from attacks, simply because they are the first witnesses to crimes committed against civilians. In fact, the responders possess documents and evidence of the war crimes committed by the Assad regime and Russia against civilians in Syria as most of their responses are documented through cameras mounted on helmets.

The White Helmets spare no effort in displaying these documents in any international forum to condemn the Assad regime and Russia. And this is another mission for the White Helmets: to convey the voice of the Syrians to the international community and human rights organizations, despite the immense power of the propaganda machine of the Assad regime and Russia in creating accusations and fabricating lies. They aim to deflect the accusation from the Assad regime and to confuse the results of the investigations carried out by international bodies regarding the file of chemical attacks in Syria, after they realized that accountability is inevitable, and that they cannot refute the evidence presented about the chemical attacks (including the evidence of the White Helmets).

We can say that there are two types of repetition of accusations. The first is rhythmic. It goes according to a rhythm and is not linked to any other factor. It is a mere repetition of lies, following the theory of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi media horn and Hitler’s repressive arm against freedom of thought and expression: “Lie and then lie until people believe you.”

The White Helmets teams are able to be, with the evidence they have, a reliable source for the United Nations

Raed al-Saleh

As for the second type of repetition of accusations, it is related to direct events such as international investigations, Security Council sessions on Syria, the emergence of new evidence condemning the regime and Russia, or the attempt to cover up important issues in the Syrian question. These come as an attempt to either divert the compass from it or acquit the Assad regime of any accusation circulated by the media. This is also true when honoring the organization or obtaining a humanitarian award, the Russian media, and after that the regime’s media, repeat the accusations.

The media war is not easy, and victory in it is not easy. We are fully aware of that, especially when countries such as Russia are behind such war. But we believe that the truth will triumph. The White Helmets teams are able to be, with evidence they have, a reliable source for the United Nations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. The one who wins is the one who stands by the people and their demands, and the one who is their voice, not the one who kills and destroys.

Raed al-Saleh
Raed al-Saleh
Chairman of Syria Civil Defence, aka the White Helmets.

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