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The only entity allowed to tell the White Helmets story are the White Helmets themselves, and in this they have been very successful—their work has garnered them the attention, support and admiration of numerous organizations, parties and luminaries outside Syria (Russia and Iran, allies of Assad, being the notable exceptions).A Magnet for Terror The compelling way in which the White Helmets document the horrors of the Syrian civil war enables people like Samantha Power to score political points at the United Nations and elsewhere. Secretary of State John Kerry has said, “There is no one who has done more to make Syria a magnet for terrorism than Bashar al-Assad.” Or put another way, the United States is the No.
The White Helmets are useful only so long as they stay on message, and that message is delivered through a narrative constructed from carefully edited imagery put out by the White Helmets themselves.
In his formative study, “Civilian Deaths in Wartime,” Eckhardt said, “The civilian percentage of war-related deaths remained at about 50 percent from century to century.” In short, while the number of civilian deaths in Syria was horrible, it was not out of proportion with what could be expected, given the overall scope of the Syrian conflict.
Moreover, a study conducted by The New York Times in 2015 found that of the civilians killed in the Syrian conflict, more than 30 percent of civilian casualties were from the effects of artillery and mortar fire.
Simply put, if the White Helmets turn off their cameras, America will turn off the money.
The messaging of the White Helmets is not serendipitous, but rather part of a deliberate strategy that imbues every aspect of their work.
In fact, some 10 days after Nawhlu’s testimony, Sheikh Mostafa Mahamed, the director of communications for Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (or FTS), the rebranded Al Nusra Front, told Sky News that, through their ongoing siege of Aleppo, “Assad and his allies cut off 300,000 civilians from the only supply route that would allow humanitarian aid.” FTS was, at the time, leading dozens of disparate rebel groups in Syria in an offensive against what Mahamed called the “four horsemen of the Syrian apocalypse—the Assad regime, Russia, Iran and the militia of Hezbollah.” Power had acknowledged the very military operations described by Mahamed during the Arria Formula meeting a little more than a week before his news conference.
“Opposition groups,” she declared, “joined by members of the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra, launched a counteroffensive” targeting the “overwhelming force of the Assad regime, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah” in order to break “the Assad regime’s siege of Eastern Aleppo.” It was as if Power and Mahamed were speaking off of the same talking points.
There is a symbiotic, hand-in-glove relationship between the anti-Assad rhetoric of the ostensibly “neutral and impartial” White Helmets and the policy objectives of their funders, a relationship that embodies the notion of a quid pro quo relationship between the two. K.), the White Helmets serve as a virtual echo chamber for American and British politicians and officials.
With their training, equipment and logistical sustainment underwritten exclusively by donations from Western governments (primarily the U. Without casting aspersions on the heroism of its members in rescuing Syrian civilians, without this propagandist value the White Helmets would not receive donations on the scale that they currently enjoy.
About 33 percent of civilian deaths were a result of shootings and mass killings (although this figure is widely recognized as being underreported, given the lack of data coming from Islamic State-controlled areas).
The emphasis placed by the White Helmets and their supporters on aerial bombardment was misplaced—only 22 percent of Syrian civilians died as a result of regime air attacks, with most of these not using barrel bombs.
The confluence of policy and objectives that links the United States, the White Helmets and Al Nusra Front are very real, if not openly acknowledged.