Hands Off Syria condemns UN Commission: ‘It is acting to incite further massacres’

Hands Off Syria condemns #UN Commission: ‘It is acting to incite further massacres’
15 September 2013 at 10:55
Press Release: Hands Off Syria (Australia) condemns United Nations Commission of Inquiry on #Syria: ‘It is acting to incite further massacres’

15 September 2013

Hands Off Syria (Australia) condemns the #United_Nations_Commission_of_Inquiry on Syria (COI) and calls for its disbanding and replacement by a body which does not act as a partisan propaganda organ for the foreign powers waging war against Syria.

Hands Off Syria member Ms Hanadi Assoud says ‘The Commission of Inquiry has proven itself a partisan body, inciting massacres and protecting the main architects of this crisis: the USA and its proxies, in particular Saudi Arabia.’

Dr Tim Anderson, Hands Off Syria member and academic at the University of Sydney, said ‘There is a fatal conflict of interest here. So long as the sectarian Islamist fighters are backed by the big powers, the COI seems incapable of recognising their well-publicised crimes. The UN should disband the Commission of Inquiry and then reconstitute it excluding the influence of those states promoting war and violence, in particular the #USA and the Gulf monarchies.

‘The latest Commission of Inquiry report on the gas attacks in east Damascus, like the general report last month and the report on the dreadful Houla massacre last year actively covered up the crimes of ruthless Takfiri-Islamists. In its report on the Houla massacre (May 2012) the COI investigators were literally led by the hand by the killers. The technical report on the Damascus gas attacks is also being used to set up a major attack on Syria. The COI is being led by the nose by the US-backed sectarian Islamists’, Dr Anderson added.

Ms Assoud said: ‘This Commission of Inquiry is responding cynically to each new provocation, inciting repeated massacres by holding out hope to the terrorists that, if only their next massacre is big enough, they might get US air force backing for their ‘holy war’.’

Dr Anderson: ‘At best the Commission of Inquiry has been arguing ‘a plague on both your houses’, which implies that the Syrian nation cannot act to defend its own people from foreign backed terrorists; at worst the COI recklessly accuses the government, thus inciting foreign intervention. Further, by pretending a moral equivalence between the Syrian Government and the foreign backed terrorists, the COI betrays the Charter of the United Nations, which embodies respect for nations and their right to self-determination, while selectively ignoring the many U.N. resolutions on the need to combat terrorism.’

Hands off Syria calls for the disbanding of the UN’s Commission of Inquiry, and for a new and independent U.N. body, not shaped those states which persist in promoting the war against Syria. Foreign powers cannot be both aggressors and judges.

Some background on the Commission of Inquiry and the Ghouta incident is attached.

Further information:
Ms. Hanadi Assoud: 0405-225-615
Dr. Tim Anderson: 0418-604-488


Background: the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria

The Human Rights Council (HRC) motion S-17/1 that established the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria (22 August 2011), immediately condemned the Syrian Government, before any inquiry. The founding text decided there had been ‘continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities … including indiscriminate attacks on the Syrian population’. Little wonder the Syrian Government has been reluctant to cooperate.

President of the HRC, Polish diplomat Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, appointed four members, two of whom were from countries (Turkey and the USA) deeply involved in the aggression. The Turkish delegate was soon replaced by Swiss lawyer Carla del Ponte, but the US delegate Karen Koning AbuZayd remains deputy to the chair, Brazilian diplomat Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. Apart from her UN roles, AbuZayd is a board member of the Washington based Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a body which includes US generals and delegates from the oil-rich Gulf monarchies –the major sponsors of international terrorism against Syria. The Commission was thus poisoned against Syria from the beginning.

The #Houla ‘False Flag’ massacre , May 2012
The COI’s second report on the Houla massacre (15 August 2012) relied on interviews organised by members of the #Farouk #FSA Brigade, then blamed unnamed government militia (‘shabiha’); no motive was given. However a number of independent investigators showed Houla to have been a ‘false flag’ massacre, organised to falsely blame the Syrian Army so as to incite the UN Security Council to intervene.

Interviews by German journalist Rainer Hermann showed that the Houla victims were ‘nearly exclusively families from the Alawi and Shia minorities … and the family of a Sunni member of parliament who was considered [by the FSA] a government collaborator’. A large FSA brigade, led by Abdurrazzaq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf , had swept aside the small army posts, and carried out the killings. They took over the area and then organised the COI’s access to witnesses. Hermann’s report was supported by Russian journalist Marat Musin and Arabic speaking Dutch writer Martin Janssen. Melchite nun Mother Agnes Mariam also spoke with witnesses and observed the manipulation of bodies as this ‘false flag’ massacre was presented to the world. The COI missed all this, either through wanton negligence or plain malice.

Report of August 16, 2013
The COI produced another partisan report on the violence on 16 August, once again highly selective and relying on pro-FSA sources. This report was useless in the sense of independent evidence. It also ignored major massacres committed by the #Takfiri-Islamists (sectarian #Islamists fighting to replace the secular Syrian Government with an Islamic state), such as the August 2012 massacre at Daraya (after the failure of a prisoner swap), the December 2012 massacre of Alawi villagers at Aqrab (documented by a British journalist), the multiple al Nusra-FSA attacks on students at Aleppo University (as part of their close down the university campaign) and the al Nusra Sarin gas attacks on Aleppo in early 2013.

The al Ghouta incidents
On 21 August 2013, some crude chemical weapons seem to have killed many people in parts of eastern Damascus (al Ghouta) under the control of Takfiri-Islamists. Video images were released immediately, accusing the Syrian Arab Army of having attacked and killed hundreds of civilians. Video also shows a number of people walking through the laid out dead bodies; several of these people have been identified as Islamist fighters.

The publicity given to these killings derailed the attention of the COI team which had just arrived in Damascus to investigate Syrian Government evidence of the sectarian Islamists using sarin gas in the #Khan al Assal area of Aleppo, in March 2013. This investigation did not take place because the team was diverted to al Ghouta; a convenient diversion because UN investigator Carla del Ponte had announced earlier that the evidence of sarin use provisionally pointed to ‘the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.’ Russia had provided a large brief of evidence to the UN. However the COI’s brief was technical and did not include determining who was responsible for the attacks.

Partisan ‘evidence’ from Washington
The Obama administration immediately asserted that the Syrian Government was to blame; later it presented some circumstantial evidence (30 August). Obama was backed up by the Washington based group Human Rights Watch (10 September). Both claim the Syrian Government’s motives were ‘to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate’ in certain areas. Foreign Policy magazine (11 September), claimed a UN inquiry group would produce a ‘strong circumstantial case’ against the government. The main US claims are:
1. The ‘opposition’ (i.e. Islamist fighters) does not have the capacity to make and deploy chemical weapons. The White House and HRW both say that the Islamist ‘rebels’ have no access to the 140mm and 330mm rockets they say were used in the attack.
2. Communications intercepts show government activity around the attacks, and the extent of social media postings is too wide to have been fabricated. In this area the Obama administration mixes the questions of whether CW were used and who used them.

Independent evidence implicating the foreign-backed fighters
Evidence implicating the foreign-backed fighters, as in previous massacres, is more specific, and the motive is more obvious: to incite a ‘humanitarian intervention’ that will help them.
1. Islamist fighters in Syria do indeed have chemical weapons and rocket capacity. They have posted video and photos of themselves firing large blue tank-canisters from artillery. In April al Nusra stole 400 tonnes of liquid chlorine from an Aleppo factory. In May six anti-Syrian ‘rebels’ were arrested and later indicted by Turkish authorities; 2kgs of ‘kitchen variety’ sarin was seized. In July the government seized 261 barrels of chemicals from terrorist groups in #Baniyas. Then 26 people including soldiers were killed by al Nusra chemicals attacks in Aleppo. The army also discovered a chemical fabrication plant in #Jobar (Damascus countryside), making use of ingredients from Saudi Arabia.
2. The first independent interviews of people in al #Ghouta indicated that Islamist fighters there were collecting chemical weapons. Jordan-based journalists Dale Gavlak and Yahya Abaneh interviewed: (a) the father of a fighter who said his son had died while mishandling chemical weapons provided by a Saudi man; (b) townspeople who said fighters had been sleeping in mosques and houses while their tunnels were used to store tanks or canisters; and (c) two fighters who complained that they had not been trained in the handling of chemical weapons.
3. Syrian analysts have released video which begins to identify the dead at al Ghouta, and those around them. Establishing who the victims are may be the key to proving who is responsible. Two weeks before the killings in al Ghouta many women and children were kidnapped from the site of an al Nusra massacre in Lattakia. It is believed many of these are amongst the dead at al Ghouta. Video also shows several alive and identifiable, kidnapped government supporters, later seen as dead victims at al Ghouta.

Adam Larson says the crime at al Ghouta was either: ‘the perfect gift from the ‘regime’ to its hostile opponents, or a custom sewn false flag event of great audacity’.

A dozen former senior US military and intelligence officers wrote to President Obama, reminding him of the lies told about WMDs in Iraq. They said ‘the most reliable intelligence shows that [President] Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21 … [and] the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President … have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved’.

Chemical weapons agreement
The Syrian government has now agreed to a Russian initiative, to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, heading off the immediate threat of missile attacks from US warships, stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. However that agreement does not resolve the matter. The al Ghouta incident was just the latest in a long chain of pretexts for war. The US clearly wants to dominate the entire region, and cannot tolerate any independent state.

Bitterly disappointed at the delay in a direct US attack on Syria, the ruthless and sectarian Islamist fighters will most likely try to stage another ‘false flag’ attack. The partisan United Nations COI will almost certainly act, once again, to lend them credibility. For its part, the US will pursue any new disarmament commitments as part of its attempts to topple the Syrian government. And double standards in disarmament will continue. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention the USA was due to destroy all its chemical weapons by 2012; Washington now says it will comply by the year 2023.


Selected sources:
Adam Larson (2013) Rebel Capabilities and the Damascus Chemical Attacks, 14 Sept, GR,
RT (2013) Turkish prosecutors indict Syrian rebels for seeking chemical weapons, 14 Sept,
Video identifying persons in the incident at al Ghouta (East Damascus)

Global Research (2013) ‘Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real Truth’, 18 May, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-one-year-after-the-houla-massacre-new-report-on-official-vs-real-truth/5335562
TRNS (2013) ‘281 barrels of dangerous chemical found in Syria: UN Ambassador’, 8 July, http://www.talkradionews.com/united-nations/2013/07/08/281-barrels-of-chemical-weapons-found-in-syria-un-ambassador.html#.UjTdqX8s3Po
Breaking News (2013) Army discovers chemical materials factory in Jobar, 14 July, http://breakingnews.sy/en/article/21152.html

Footage of chemical attack in Syria is fraud

GIRL CHEMO mother-agnes-chemical-attack-footage Footage of chemical attack in Syria is fraud

Footage of #chemical_attack in Syria is fraud
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by the Arbeen unified press office on August 21, 2013 shows a man comforting a Syrian girl in shock as she screams in Arabic “I am alive” following an attack in which Syrian opposition claim the regime used chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus (AFP Photo)An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by the Arbeen unified press office on August 21, 2013 shows a man comforting a Syrian girl in shock as she screams in Arabic “I am alive” following an attack in which Syrian opposition claim the regime used chemical weapons in eastern #Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus (AFP Photo)

There is proof the footage of the alleged chemical attack in Syria was fabricated, Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria, told RT. She says she is about to submit her findings to the UN.

Mother Agnes, a catholic nun, who has been living in Syria for 20 years and has been reporting actively on what has been going on in the war-ravaged country, says she carefully studied the video featuring allegedly victims of the chemical weapons attack in the Syrian village of Guta in August and now questions its authenticity.

In her interview with RT, Mother Agnes doubts so much footage could have been taken in so little time, and asks where parents of the supposedly dead children are. She promises to send her report to the UN.

The nun is indignant with the world media for apparently turning a blind eye to the Latakia massacre by rebel extremists, which left 500 civilians including women and children dead.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called on the international community to pay attention to revelations made by Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib.

RT: The United States has used internet photos and video footage of the supposed chemical weapons attack in Eastern Guta to build a case against the Syrian government. Have you been able to look at these files? What do you have to say about them?

Mother Agnes Mariam el-SalibMother Agnes Mariam el-Salib

Mother Agnes: I have carefully studied the footage, and I will present a written analysis on it a bit later. I maintain that the whole affair was a frame-up. It had been staged and prepared in advance with the goal of framing the Syrian government as the perpetrator.

The key evidence is that Reuters made these files public at 6.05 in the morning. The chemical attack is said to have been launched between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning in Guta. How is it even possible to collect a dozen different pieces of footage, get more than 200 kids and 300 young people together in one place, give them first aid and interview them on camera, and all that in less than three hours? Is that realistic at all? As someone who works in the news industry, you know how long all of it would take.

The bodies of children and teenagers we see in that footage – who were they? What happened to them? Were they killed for real? And how could that happen ahead of the gas attack? Or, if they were not killed, where did they come from? Where are their parents? How come we don’t see any female bodies among all those supposedly dead children?

I am not saying that no chemical agent was used in the area – it certainly was. But I insist that the footage that is now being peddled as evidence had been fabricated in advance. I have studied it meticulously, and I will submit my report to the UN Human Rights Commission based in Geneva.

RT: Recently you’ve visited Latakia and the adjacent areas, you’ve talked to the eyewitnesses to the massacre of civilians carried out in Latakia by Jabhat al-Nusra. What can you tell us about it?

MA: What I want to ask first of all is how the international community can ignore the brutal killing spree in Latakia on Laylat al-Qadr early in the morning of August 5, an attack that affected more than 500 people, including children, women and the elderly. They were all slaughtered. The atrocities committed exceed any scale. But there was close to nothing about it in the international mass media. There was only one small article in “The Independent”, I believe.

We sent our delegation to these villages, and our people had a look at the situation on-site, talked to the locals, and most importantly – talked to the survivors of the massacre.

I don’t understand why the Western media apply double standards in this case – they talk about mass murder that the use of chemical weapons resulted in non-stop, but they keep quiet about the Latakia massacre.

RT: Do you know anything about the fate of hostages captured in Latakia?

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 20, 2013 shows soldiers loyal to the regime forces wrapping a decomposed body that was allegedly discovered in a mass grave in northern Latakia, a province on the Mediterranean coast (AFP Photo)A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 20, 2013 shows soldiers loyal to the regime forces wrapping a decomposed body that was allegedly discovered in a mass grave in northern Latakia, a province on the Mediterranean coast (AFP Photo)

MA: In the village of Estreba they massacred all the residents and burnt down their houses. In the village of al-Khratta almost all the 37 locals were killed. Only ten people were able to escape.

A total of twelve Alawite villages were subjected to this horrendous attack. That was a true slaughterhouse. People were mutilated and beheaded. There is even a video that shows a girl being dismembered alive – alive! – by a frame saw. The final death toll exceeded 400, with 150 to 200 people taken hostage. Later some of the hostages were killed, their deaths filmed.

At the moment we are looking for the hostages and negotiating their release with the militants, but so far we haven’t managed to achieve that.

RT: We often hear reports of Christians being persecuted by the militants. Just the day before yesterday there was an attack in the village of Maaloula, where the majority of population is Christian. Are Christians in Syria facing grave danger?

MA: Everyone in Syria is facing grave danger. There was a case of Muslim religious leaders being kidnapped and beheaded. They were humiliated and tortured. Ismailis, the druze, Christians – people from all parts of Syrian society – are being mass murdered. I would like to say that if these butchers didn’t have international support, no one would have dared to cross the line. But today, unfortunately, the violation of human rights and genocide in Syria is covered up on the international level. I demand the international community stops assessing the situation in Syria in accordance with the interests of a certain group of great powers. The Syrian people are being killed. They fall victim to contractors, who are provided with weapons and sent to Syria to kill as many people as possible. The truth is, everywhere in Syria people are being kidnapped, tortured, raped and robbed. These crimes remain unpunished, because the key powers chose international terrorism as a way to destroy sovereign states. They’ve done it to other countries. And they will just keep doing it if the international community doesn’t say “Enough!”

RT: You’ve managed to get hold of some sensitive information. Does this make you fear for your life as someone who keeps documents that may compromise the militants? Has anyone threatened you?

MA: You are right. I do get threatened. They are trying to discredit me. I know there is a book coming out soon in France that labels me as a criminal who kills people. But any believer should first and foremost trust their conscience, their belief in God, and that will help them save innocent lives. I don’t care much about my own life. My life is no more precious than that of any Syrian child, whose body could be used as evidence to justify wrongdoing. This is the biggest crime ever perpetrated in history.

RT: What should the Syrians do to stop the tragedy they are going through?

AFP PhotoAFP Photo

MA: The Syrians themselves can do nothing to stop it. They can only rely on the international community, friendly nations, world powers, such as Russia, China, and India. With a lot of enthusiasm we did welcome the news that the British parliament voted against the participation of their country in the possible war against Syria. There is a terrorist war going on against Syria right now. The international community and Syria’s friends should join forces and say: Enough! And they need to use every opportunity to do that. Otherwise this threat Syria is facing now will turn into a threat to universal peace.

RT: What should the Vatican and other hubs of Christianity do to put an end to this tragedy?

MA: The Pope says he has no planes, no bombs, and no armed forces. Instead, he has the power of the truth, and the truth he has told. There are messages coming from everywhere in the world urging against a military intervention in Syria. Those who want to hear them will. The Pope, the patriarchs, Nobel Prize winners, including women, keep saying the same in unison: Let’s stop fighting. No conflict can be solved by military means. Stop adding fuel to the flame!
All the prominent public figures in the world have risen to speak against the war. Everyone has spoken their mind, but the US prefers to turn a deaf ear. The world public opinion has turned against the US. It’s the first time in history that America is alone. They are claiming that they are backed by ten countries. But I insist they aren’t, because the people of these countries disagree with their governments. Even the American people disagree with their government.

RT: Do you believe that this tragedy will end and Syria will remain a homeland for all Syrians, regardless of their ethnical or religious identity?

MA: I’m not Syrian myself, but I’ve been living in Syria for 20 years. I’d like to remind everyone that Damascus is the most ancient capital in the world. I would like to remind everyone that Syria is the cradle of civilization. I would like to remind everyone that this is the holy land that gave birth to the main world religions. What is happening in Syria should serve as a lesson for everyone. I mean that in existential rather than political sense. I am convinced that with God’s help the Syrian people will be able to remain strong, heal their wounds, reconcile and chase out all the foreign mercenaries and terrorists. I believe there will be peace in #Syria. But for that we need help from the international community.