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UPDATE: The Return of ‘Boy of Aleppo’ Omran – But No Fanfare from Western Media

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Omran on left with his father and siblings. (Photo: Khaled Iskef)

Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

Omran has been found alive and well in East Aleppo. Syrian & Lebanese media have been interviewing the father of Omran Daqneesh the traumatized boy that graced the covers of virtually every media outlet in August 2016. Omran’s bewilderment reduced news anchors to tears and tipped the world over the edge of rational thought and into the realms of sentimentalized chaos. To the West, he became the symbol of intervention. We almost went to war over Omran. 

Why are the corporate media not rushing to Aleppo to interview and investigate, after all Omran was one of the most effective icons of the media war on Syria, his photograph even winning the Getty award for the most “Defining Image” 2016. Despite the fact that the photo itself was taken by Mahmoud Raslan, a supporter of the East Aleppo child beheading gang, terrorists Nour Al Din Zinki who decapitated and tortured Abdullah Issa publicly and videoed the entire brutal act, one month before the photo of Omran went viral and precipitated all manner of outrage from the International Community.

You would think, after all the outpouring of emotion, that these media hacks would be overjoyed to hear of little Omran’s wellbeing. You would  think they would be clamouring for an interview with the family to finally investigate the background to his appearance in the back of an ambulance in East Aleppo. Instead mainstream media has done no more than its usual copy-paste excercise in damage limitation.

Raf Sanchez of the Telegraph, reporting from Beirut:

“The family was interviewed this week by several pro-regime Syrian and Lebanese television channels. In a clip from one interview, Omran’s father said rebel groups and the international media wanted to use his son to attack the Syrian regime.”

Caveat: It is possible the family felt forced to take part in the interview for their own safety.”

The Telegraph was one of the first of the corporate media to run this latest leg of the story, one feels very reluctantly and not without the familiar twist which enabled a dig at the Syrian government. Of course, they failed to expand upon the glaring fact that Omran’s family had been staunchly pro-Syrian state and pro-Syrian army from the beginning, which may have provoked the attacks upon them, from the NATO member state and Gulf state-funded extremists embedded in East Aleppo. Also, barely mentioning the fact that the family fled to Syrian Government held west Aleppo for safety. But investigating those aspects of the story is seemingly a step beyond the comfort zone for modern corporate media hacks?

This was followed by a classic demonstration of copy-paste reporting from misinformation accomplice, Kareem Shaheen of  The Guardian,  (based in Istanbul) whose headline almost mirrored the Sanchez tweet, “New Footage Emerges of Syrian Boy Who Gave a Face to the Suffering in Aleppo” and then, the same caveat:

“It was unclear if the family had been coerced into conducting the interview. The Syrian government has carried out similar disinformation efforts in the past, promising benefits to defectors or displaced civilians if they speak out against alleged rebel crimes.”

What makes this claim even odder, by The Guardian, is the preceding paragraph to their concluding statement:

“In a short interview clip posted by Alloush, Omran’s father tells the TV presenter that he did not hear a plane above his house before the strike and said he rejected offers to leave Syria by parties wishing to damage the reputation of the country’s armed forces. He said that he changed his son’s name and his hairstyle to evade individuals who threatened to kidnap him and accused rebels of intimidating him.”

Both media outlets have powerfully underpinned the UK propaganda war on Syria. In the case of Omran, both outlets milked the pathos of his August 2016 photo to optimum effect, whipping the UK public into an anti-Assad frenzy, designed to enable the much desired, No Fly Zone.

How can The Guardian possibly conclude that the family may have been coerced into the interview when they, themselves, tell us that the family had been under threat from the “rebels” not from the Syrian Government. The Telegraph tells us that:

Omran’s image was widely used to illustrate the brutality of the Assad regime as it tried to crush the opposition in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. 

But his family, like many others in rebel-held east Aleppo, are reported to have remained loyal to the regime throughout the siege.

They refused all media interviews and reportedly went into regime-held west Aleppo when they had a chance.” (Emphasis added)

This is complete double-speak from both media outlets. The only element of truthfulness being that they did, indeed, use Omran’s image to “illustrate the brutality of the Assad regime”. While Omran’s image circulated through virtual media space, did they emphasize that Omran’s family were loyal supporters of the Syrian government? Did they report, previously, that “many” civilians in East Aleppo had remained loyal to the Syrian government? Did they not imply that all civilians in East Aleppo were supporters of the “freedom fighters” and the “revolution” and were being targeted by the Syrian government?

By inserting the term “reported” are they not still trying to draw our attention away from the reality on the ground in Syria, that the vast majority of Syrians support their government, the Syrian Arab Army and their allies in the battle against externally-imposed terrorism?

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Khaled Iskef with Omran, his sister and his father. Aleppo.

Why are they not investigating the claim by Omran’s father that they did not hear planes above the house, the night of the attack? Omran’s father has told Al Mayadeen reporter, Khaled Iskef, that he questioned the extremist groups about this. The terrorists did not reply, they labelled Omran’s father, a “Shabiha” – the term used by the extremist groups for anyone displaying loyalty to the Syrian government and Syrian Arab Army. Nobody has answered this question and not one of the mainstream media has deviated from the narrative that it was Syrian and Russian airstrikes that had targeted Omran’s neighbourhood, which also killed his older brother, Ali Daqneesh.

Would it be so far-fetched that the extremist groups themselves, possible using their own Hell Cannons, might have fired indiscriminately into many neighborhoods in Aleppo, or even worse – targeting the homes of the civilians who were resisting their occupation and remaining loyal to the Syrian government?

Note how the ‘rebels’ are now threatening to kill Omran’s family because they dared to defy the US media-backed terrorist narrative of the ‘Dusty Boy of Aleppo’ mythos:

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Doulama from Idlib (in blue shirt) says he will wire $2,000, all the money he has, to anyone who would murder Omran’s father and family because they are “infidels” & against the “revolution.”

In fact we know, from conversations raging across social media, that Omran and his family are now under threat from the various extremist factions, members of which are already putting prices on heads and calling for the murder of Omran’s father. Of no concern to corporate media who resolutely cling to the narrative that the Syrian government is the source of all evil in Syria, not the NATO and Gulf State funded extremist brigades.

They can’t spin that reality to serve “regime change” so it ceases to have any importance.

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However we look at this situation, it is marvelous that Omran is safe and sound and still in Syria with his family. The corporate media in the west failed him. They allowed him to be exploited for the propaganda that is exacerbating the suffering of the Syrian people and prolonging the war against Syria. They failed to question the narrative fed to them by known criminal elements embedded in East Aleppo and affiliated to the NATO and Gulf state armed, funded & equipped extremist factions.

The horrific torture and beheading of Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa, one month before Omran’s bewildered image went viral, did not provoke an equivalent outrage or international condemnation.

“The images of little Omran, put out by jihadist support groups, gained widespread attention from the western media, which has backed the sectarian gangs through more than five years of brutal terrorist war. On the other hand, video of the murder of little Abdallah Issa was largely ignored, or scorned with claims that the boy was really 18 years old, or a spy for the pro-Syria Palestinian militia Liwa al-Quds.” ~ Tim Anderson

“What is perhaps most disturbing about the comparison between these two stories, is the cynical abuse and weaponization of children that is being supported by the NATO-aligned media machine. This is a calculated use of one child as a psychological instrument to promote and legitimize war, while the torture and cold-blooded execution of another is marginalized to protect the U.S. agents who perpetuate that war.” ~ Vanessa Beeley, Journey to Aleppo Part I

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Despite the smiles for camera, Omran’s eyes bear the scars of his ordeals and the trauma he has been forced to live through. This is, ultimately, what we should be protesting most vehemently.  In Syria, tens of thousands of Omrans go unnoticed by our media, our governments and our NATO-aligned NGOs, including the UN. Too many children in Syria have been exploited as propaganda pawns in the geopolitical chess game being played by the NATO and Gulf state oligarchs and oil barons.

The corporate media in the west is guilty of mass deception through distortion, omission and misdirection.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed on #FakeNews:

“Yet there is a giant elephant in the room: the fact that the crisis of fake news began inside traditional media. In fact, the most egregious cases of fake news have been promulgated by traditional media institutions. And it is precisely the mass disillusionment and breakdown of trust with traditional media institutions that has been the biggest driver of all. News consumers are fed up with being lied to — they no longer have trust in the ability of prevailing media institutions to tell the truth.”

The full interviews that were conducted by Syrian and Lebanese media channels will be aired over the next few days and will surely reveal more details of the Omran story. I was also told by Khaled Iskef that Omran was not first choice for this photo-op. Another child had been chosen for his role but when the NATO and Gulf state-funded White Helmets and their terrorist companions saw Omran, they deemed him to be smaller and “cuter.” So Omran was plucked from the rubble, put into position for the photo shoot, and rocketed to stardom by a cynical and exploitative propaganda machine that had little or no regard for the mental and physical well-being of little Omran.

Welcome home Omran. We hope the future treats you more kindly than the past.

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UPDATES 7th June 2017

Khaled Iskef’s interview with Omran’s father aired, last night, at Al Mayadeen TV.  Iskef gave 21WIRE the main points as follows:

“Omran’s father denied that Syrian and Russian planes bombed his home.

Omran’s father said he had not heard there were warplanes in the air.

Omran’s father: “The huge funds provided by some countries, associations and opposition activists have been rejected to change the facts and condemn the Syrian government. This is the main reason that prevented me from appearing to the media when the eastern parts of #Aleppo were under “rebel” control.”

Omrans father rejected the amount of $8,000 from Musaal Omar and the American journalist close to the Nusra Front, Bilal Abdul Kareem.

Omran’s sister pushed the photographers away when they tried to photograph her when she was injured in the attack, because she hates terrorists.

Omran’s father was threatened by photographer Mahmoud Ruslan, Nour al-Din Zanki and an AFP correspondent who filmed #Omran.

Mahmoud Raslan filmed the beheading of the #Palestinian child Abdullah [by terrorist group Nour al-Din Zanki] .

M. Raslan accused Omran’s father of obstructing the documentation of what he called the “crimes of the Syrian Army.” Omran’s father refused to falsify the facts to serve the terrorist narrative.

Omran’s father “I am now with my family in #Aleppo and live a free and dignified life under the control of the Syrian government.”

Omran’s father:”I did not get out of #Aleppo and I am not under house arrest as promoted by the Western media.”

Omran’s father: “What bothers me is that the world is still misled about what happened to us,and some exploiting it in #Syrian blood trade #Omrandaqneesh.

“After the announcement of Zain… M. Raslan appeared, who photographed my son Omran, and said that the pictures would not be allowed to be used to mislead the facts.

Omran’s father: “I will publish the threats of armed groups sent to me since my 1st media appearance through the #Syrian and #Arab channels
Threats that now reach me and my family – because I have exposed the lies of the gunmen who were controlling eastern parts of #Aleppo.”

A short video showing Syrian journalist Iskef with Omran and his brother. WATCH ~ 

Independent journalist, Eva Bartlett, was also in Aleppo to interview Omran’s father yesterday. In this short clip, Omran’s father explains the following:

“The Syrian Army always protects the country. I served in the Syrian army. This is the Syrian army’s duty, to protect people, to protect the country, to protect the civilians. The army is the people, and the people are the army.”

The following is a summary of events by Syriana Analysis. WATCH ~

..and finally from Ruptly TV. WATCH ~

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READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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