US President Donald Trump has not only reversed his “withdrawal from Syria” policy, he has recently attempted to revive the flagging credibility of the terrorist-affiliated White Helmets with a $4.5 million cash injection.
This week, the UK Minister for the Middle East Andrew Murrison met the “chairman” of the White Helmets, the extremist-connected Raed Saleh, for a discussion on the situation in Idlib. Murrison highlighted the “massive disinformation campaign” being waged against the White Helmets by Russia and Syria while never addressing the multiple accusations being made by Syrian civilians against the group which include claims of child abduction and organ trafficking.
White Helmets’ persecution of Syrian Christians in Idlib
On a recent trip to Latakia, I had the opportunity to interview a former resident of Yakubiyah, a predominantly Syrian Christian (Armenian and Catholic) town located west of Idlib city and around 10km from the Syrian border with Turkey. Aline K (her full name is withheld for her security) was in Lebanon when the armed gangs first entered her hometown in 2012/13 but she decided to return to Yakubiyah to assess the situation.
When Aline returned to her home she found it occupied by a mother and children. Aline asked them to leave but when she came back the next morning, armed militants had taken control of the house and Aline, like so many of her neighbours, was forced to abandon her house. She told me:
“The terrorists looted all the houses, they entered houses and checked what’s inside it, another group came and took everything inside, they took everything they could carry, they emptied houses, they emptied them.”
Aline described a campaign of desecration of the three churches in Yakubiyah, the removal of the ancient stone crosses and artefacts, the familiar eradication of Christian culture, that has been witnessed across Syria, by the so-called “peaceful revolutionaries” sponsored by the West.
Meanwhile the West hypocritically claims to be protecting Christians while financing, arming, and promoting their persecutors. Aline and all the women in Yakubiyah were forced to wear the hijab. Aline spent most of her time in hiding, terrified to go out, fearful of reprisals or punishment. Many of the younger inhabitants fled, leaving behind only the elderly and those who did not have the means to escape.
Aline told me that the White Helmets began to appear alongside the armed groups in 2015.
“They established their center in a complex of school and church buildings. When they arrived they were dressed like the terrorists, you couldn’t tell them apart but the White Helmets are a subsidiary of the terrorist groups. Most of the White Helmets were Syrian but the situation was chaotic, we didn’t know who was who, there were many foreigners among them.”
According to Aline, the White Helmets were working with and for the terrorist groups. Aid received from outside was distributed first to the armed groups before meagre supplies were handed out to civilians. Aline did not see the White Helmets performing “humanitarian” activities, they were focused on further looting and the destruction of historic buildings, including the churches.
In 2018, “moderate rebel” promoter Charles Lister attempted to claim that the White Helmets were benevolent caretakers of Christian artefacts and communities in Yakubiyah. This cynical remodelling of reality was swiftly exposed by former resident and Syria commentator, Camille Otrakji.
Otrakji went on to ridicule the concept that the White Helmets were protecting or defending the cultural identity of the town’s inhabitants.
Aline also responded to the White Helmet marketing campaign, saying:
“They (White Helmets and terrorists) left nothing untouched or unbroken. They were like locusts, they left no tree or building untouched. They stole our livelihood, our trees. They destroyed everything, reduced it to trash, our homes, our buildings, all destroyed.“
Aline confirmed that all the White Helmets carried guns and would use them to threaten and intimidate civilians. Aline also described the supply of weapons to the terrorist group’s child soldiers, teenagers under 16, this was carried out by the White Helmets and the armed group leaders. This must raise the question of who is supplying the aid and weapons so liberally distributed to designated terrorist groups like Al Qaeda/Nusra Front present in Yakubiyah?
We should remind ourselves that the UK alone has provided £ 2.81 billion in “humanitarian” aid since 2012. Over the past 18 months alone, the UK government has poured $150 million into Idlib, funds that will be received and managed by groups like the White Helmets.
Aline demonstrated the familiar confusion that I have experienced when interviewing civilians who have lived under the occupation of armed groups and their White Helmet auxiliaries. It is hard for these traumatised individuals to differentiate between the two groups, they are interchangeable, working in lockstep to terrorise communities and individuals they perceive to be ideologically “different” or loyal to the Syrian government. It is this ambiguity over their identity that suggests that one of the many roles of the White Helmets is as a Western proxy benefactor to the armed groups they are intermingled with.
Chemical weapon hoaxes staged by extremist, sectarian White Helmets
Many journalists who have worked to expose the White Helmets perceive that the White Helmet brand has outrun its usefulness yet the billionaires and governments who have promoted and protected this group from reputation loss are still peddling the “humanitarian” image of this US/UK intelligence asset operating alongside some of the most brutal, sectarian armed groups still in Syria.
The White Helmets have been cornered alongside HTS (Hayat Tahrir Al Sham) in the “largest Al Qaeda haven since 9/11” which is Idlib in the north-west of Syria. The White Helmets operate alongside the sectarian, extremist groups and share their ideology which seeks to eliminate or subjugate all sects and minorities in Syria that do not belong to their exclusive, tyrannical club.
The obviously sectarian aspect of the group has been admitted by the British mercenary and founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, but is never picked up by the colonial media in their relentless defence of the White Helmets.
The REAL Syria Civil Defence (established in Syria in 1953), on the other hand, is made up of volunteers from across all sects and minorities in Syria and represents the pluralism and secular nature of Syrian culture and society.
Perhaps Trump’s relatively small donation of $4.5 million to this failing propaganda construct is a last ditch attempt to secure their performances in a final “chemical weapon” swansong in Idlib. This is a dangerous strategy if that is the case. After the Douma revelations and the undeniable corruption of the OPCW’s independence, I cannot help but feel that a new staged attack in Idlib would be met with more ridicule than outrage and that public consensus would be tipped resolutely in favour of Syrian sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the upholding of international law as opposed to support for further pretexts for FUKUS globalist “banditry” and war crimes in the region.
The White Helmets should be condemned as the parody of humanitarianism they really are but they should also be held publicly accountable for their role in perpetuating misery and bloodshed in Syria. Failure to do so will result in their rebranded appearance in another country and another “humanitarian” war sanctioned by their presence, another heinous crime against humanity, another oil jihad fuelled by the US coalition of terror. It is time to say “enough.”
Vanessa Beeley is an independent investigative journalist and photographer. She is associate editor at 21st Century Wire.