A wide-ranging disinformation campaign as part of U.S. efforts at regime change in Syria has resulted in calls, including from within Canada, to nominate an unsavoury group for the Nobel Peace Prize. The group is called the “White Helmets” or “Syria Civil Defence.”
The “White Helmets” were founded in 2013 by James Le Mesurier, a British private military contractor, consultant for the UK Foreign Office and former military intelligence officer, when the governments of the U.S. and UK funded select individuals in rebel-held territory in Syria to travel to Turkey to allegedly receive training in rescue operations. The White Helmets group is supported by a foundation started by Le Mersurier called Mayday Rescue which operates out of the Netherlands, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.
Unlike recognized relief and aid organizations such as the Syrian Red Crescent, the group operates only in areas under control of terrorist groups, such as the city of Idlib under control of al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Nusra Front, and parts of Aleppo. According to the U.S. State Department the group has received at least $23 million in U.S. government funding but the British Foreign Office is said to be its largest single backer. The White Helmets advocate for a “no-fly zone” to be instituted, as in Libya in 2011.
All indications are that the role of the group is akin to those promoting false stories about babies in Kuwait being taken from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers and left to die in the lead up to the first war on Iraq in 1991 and fraudulent claims of massacres of civilians immediately before the NATO destruction of Libya in 2011. They are widely quoted in U.S. imperialist media and play a key role in social media fabrications to create pretexts for intervention against the Syrian government. After the September 20 attack on a UN and Syrian Red Crescent aid convoy in Aleppo videos released by the “White Helmets” were used as part of spurious attempts by the U.S. to blame the Syrian army and Russia.
In other words, they are part of warmongering, not peace-making, defence of civilians or humanitarianism. Canadians should be wary of endorsements of this group and its supposed peacemaking credentials, which have come from the Trudeau Liberals and the New Democratic Party. A film promoting the White Helmets was released on Netflix in early September to coincide with the Nobel Peace Prize campaign.
Awarding peace prizes to the likes of U.S. President Obama whose wars outnumber even those of Bush and who has made drone assassinations a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, already speaks volumes about what kind of peace is being promoted. Supporting state terrorism in the name of peace is surely as low as one can go, and giving such an award to the “White Helmets” would not be a change of course in this regard.
An Example: Viral Photo of Boy on Orange Chair
In August a photo and accompanying video were spread on social media and in monopoly newspapers depicting a boy with a head wound covered in dust sitting upright in an ambulance. Among countless other images of wounded in Syria and Aleppo particularly from attacks by terrorist forces this image was chosen to be spread far and wide. It was allegedly taken as part of a White Helmets rescue effort and coincides with the increasing promotion of the group and calls for it to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The video shows at least a dozen men standing around an empty ambulance. The child is then seemingly taken from the rubble of a bombed building and taken to the ambulance. Rather than check his injuries (there are no medical personnel obviously present) the boy is propped up on a seat to be photographed but no one attends to him. He does not react. Several other children are then placed in the back of the ambulance while men hover around them to take photos and video before the doors are closed and it drives away.
The photographer of the viral image was identified as Mahmoud Rslan. Rslan was shortly thereafter found to be associated with a U.S.-backed terrorist group called the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement which released a video in July of its members beheading a Palestinian child for allegedly supporting the Syrian government.
See “Is the Man Who Took Viral Syrian Boy Photo Linked with Killers?“ TeleSUR, August 19 2016.