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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How a 24hr truce to pick up bodies became a non-aggression pact between ISIS & Syrian rebels

Today Democracy for America sent this out in an email:
Recent reports have claimed some of the so-called "moderate" Syrian rebels that would receive money and weapons under this plan have agreed to a "non-aggression pact" with ISIS. It's possible that, despite the president's best intentions, weapons sent to Syrian rebels could find their way into the hands of ISIS -- and be used to target Americans.
By most reliable accounts, one group, Sons of Golan, associated with the Free Syrian Army, that had been waging a heroic and hard fought campaign to rid an area near Damascus of ISIS agreed to a 24 hour truce so that both sides could remove their dead from the battlefield and bury them, after which the battle between the two forces resumed. This led to widespread reports in the western anti-war movement that the Free Syrian Army generally had concluded, in words design to invoke memories of the opportunistic agreement made between Hitler and Stalin, a "non-aggression pact" with the extreme jihadist group ISIS in Syria.

Based on a single unverified source, this story is being spread like wildfire by groups that hitherto have shown little concern for the 200,000 Syrians that have died in the last three years as a result of dictator Bashar al-Assad's vicious attempts to cling to power. For example VoteVets included this language in petition opposing the Syrian people's struggle against the Assad regime:
VoteVets cannot support sending arms to Syrian rebels that many reports continue to suggest are still fighting alongside some of the same groups we fought against in Iraq, and are even reportedly entering into truces with ISIS.
And Just Foreign Policy said in their Congress call-in campaign:
Congress is expected to vote soon on a controversial proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition. With recent reports that some so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels this proposal seeks to arm have signed non-aggression pacts with ISIS, as in the past, now is not the time to rush into a policy whose consequences remain so unknown.
The Putin mouthpiece RT ran with this headline:
ISIS and moderate Syrian rebels strike truce…

The militants of Islamic State have reportedly struck a deal with moderate Syrian rebels not to fight each other and focus on toppling the government. Some reports say the deal was brokered by the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda branch in Syria.
While the openly right-wing WND put it this way:
'Moderate' Syrian rebels sign truce with ISIS

While the Obama administration works to coordinate aid to the Syrian rebels, moderate and Islamic Syrian rebels reportedly just signed a first-of-its-kind non-aggression pact with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to a monitoring group.
None of these reports noted that the FSA and other forces allied to defeat the Assad regime have been the only groups fighting ISIS in Syria for the past year. They didn't mention that at all.

All of these stories have one source, a 12 September Agence France-Presse report:
Syria rebels, IS in 'non-aggression' pact near Damascus

Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between IS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.

Under the deal, "the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime."
The Daily Beast got the real story, and reported that these false reports:
are easily disproved by evidence that ISIS and the moderate rebels are still fighting each other in that region, according to rebel commanders on the ground and activists supporting the Syrian opposition.

“The only report we have received on anything resembling a ceasefire was that ISIS and Sons of Golan, an FSA brigade outside Damascus, halted fighting for 24 hours to collect bodies before hostilities resumed. However, this report also confirms that there is substantial fighting between the two groups that is leading to fatalities,” said Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, director of government relations for the Syrian American Council, a Washington NGO that works with the Syrian opposition and the FSA. “It is fantastical to think that rebels outside Damascus would expend lives and resources to rout ISIS from the Damascus suburbs; besiege the group for over a month; wait until two days after Obama announces he will aid the rebels to fights ISIS; and then sign a deal with ISIS (the first ever) while the group was besieged in its last holdout.”

The Syrian American Council collected public statements from several of the rebel commanders on the ground near Hajar al-Aswad, the town where the supposed ceasefire was reported to take place. All of the rebel leaders on the ground issued statements to deny the report, according to the group.

“The threat of ISIS is omnipresent across Northern Idlib and is a threat to the Syrian people, the region, and the international community at large,” said Jamal Maarouf, the head of the FSA-linked Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front, in a statement. “SRF remains committed to combating the terrorist threat of ISIS wherever it may be found in order to liberate the Syrian people from all threats, whether foreign or domestic.”
It's no secret that Putin's Russia has long supported Assad's bloody campaign to stay in power. They have supported it with bombs and bullets so it should surprise no one that RT also supports it by spreading the vilest lies against his opposition. Likewise extreme right-wing and fascist forces from around the globe have supported it in a similar manner, so we know where WND is coming from. But why are these so-called "progressive" and "anti-imperialist" groups so ready to spread the same pro-Assad propaganda against the forces fighting for democracy in Syria without the slightest attempts at fact checking?

UPDATE 19 September 2014: When Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Senate on Wednesday he added a new dimension to this particular controversy because he made the claim that it was a propaganda ploy of the Islamic State. He said this about the story of a non-aggression pact between ISIS (or ISIL as he calls it) and the Free Syrian Army: "Let me say to you, that's---disinformation fundamentally put out by ISIL." Not reading Arabic I have seen this disinformation spread most widely by whose in the "anti-imperialist" Left. I don't know the basis of Kerry's statement and have to say I don't have much faith in his intelligence no matter how you mean it, but upon reflection, I have to agree with him.

Here is my reasoning: Its not hard to understand why a section of the FSA would agree to a 24hr truce to remove the dead from the battlefield. Such breaks in the fighting to evacuate the dead and wounded are quite common in the annals of warfare, even between the most bitter of opponents, if only in the name of simple decency. They happened in the American Civil War and after the truce the two sides returned to killing each other. But ISIS is not known for its decency. If this is indeed the first such truce that they have agreed to, which is what most of these "anti-imperialist" reports claim, then the real question it why did ISIS agree to it at this juncture?

The logical answer is that they agreed to it precisely so that their propaganda allies could use it as the grain-of-truth in a dis-information campaign that claimed, as the women in the pink blouse did on CNN this morning, that "hundreds of FSA units have entered into a non-aggression pact with ISIS" at the very moment when the United States is considering whether to support the FSA with training and arms in a serious way for the first time. So I think Kerry has a point.

ISIS is very sophisticated in it propaganda, as is the Assad Regime. The highlight of the ISIS video released today is a North American sounding jihadist executing members of Assad's army. Now that they have gotten the attention of the American people, they are making a great show of opposing Assad, just as Assad appears, for the first time, to be opposing ISIS. Of course, in the past, Assad has been much quicker to shoot his own soldiers, as punishment for attempting to defect, than he has to bomb ISIS headquarters in Ragga or ISIS camps anywhere. Had he done so, they never could have had the safehaven that has allowed them to conquer so much territory in Syria and Iraq, just as ISIS has waged war against the FSA and not Assad, who purchases their oil. As I have reported earlier, ISIS prisons have been found to be filled with FSA soldiers while defecting Syrian soldiers so foolish as to flee to ISIS have been turned over to Assad, most likely to be shot. Now it is convenient to boaster claims that ISIS is the main force fighting Assad and visa versa with these displays. Those who have been following this conflict for the past three and a half years are not fooled but those that have just waken up to it may be.

So ISIS allowed a truce in one area, near Damascus, with one FSA unit, and with the help of its friends and allies, have scored another propaganda victory. These "anti-imperialists" only oppose western imperialism and follow the logic of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." This has long made them supporters of Putin and Assad. Now they seem quite willing to add ISIS to that club and spread ISIS misinformation for the purpose of discrediting the forces that have remained in the struggle, in spite of three and a half years of pounding by Assad and over a year of fighting ISIS, as either non-existent or having concluded a "non-aggression pact" with ISIS.

I regret to inform you that to this roll call of dishonour we can also add Syrian Arab Republic, Counterpunch, The Tea Party.org, The AntiMedia.org, Infowars.com, BreitBart, David Icke, Fire Dog Lake, Anti-War.com, Global Research, Truthdig, The Right Scoop, Uprooted Palestinian, The Ron Paul Institute, Dennis Kucinich, Information Clearinghouse, Hebrew Nation Radio, War in Iraq, Red State, The Nation, Veteran's Today, Counter Currents.org, Moon of Alabama, and Huffington Post. All together in support of ISIS propaganda. What a wonderful example of "left-right convergence" this makes!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, I like the part about the overnight experts.