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Voices From Eastern Ghouta – Video Testimonies Part I

Inside Harjallah IDP camp, close to Eastern Ghouta. 20,000 Syrian civilians have been rehomed here (temporarily) from Eastern Ghouta including Douma. They are provided with food, housing, cleaning materials, water and electricity by the Syrian government and a number of Syrian NGOs. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

When I was in Eastern Ghouta during the last moments of final liberation, particularly for Jaish Al Islam occupied Douma, I witnessed the exodus of civilians from their incarceration by Western financed extremist groups of all denominations.  These exhausted, traumatised citizens of the eastern suburbs and countryside of Damascus exited via the Syrian government and Russian protected Humanitarian corridors that enabled them to escape despite harrowing tales of being shelled and sniped by terrorist factions, infuriated by their departure. 

I was able to interview a number of these people who had fled the unbelievable deprivation and brutality of these extremist “regimes” that were imposed upon them by the Syrian regime-change-war proponents in the West.

Their testimonies lay waste to the myths of these mercenaries and armed militia groups being freedom bringers or champions of “Democracy”. They detail a life of fear, poverty, homelessness and hunger beyond the realms of understanding for many in the West who have been duped into believing the “moderate” myths promulgated by state media outlets in the UK, EU and US – nothing more than a glorified protection racket for the criminal NATO member state foreign policy targeting Syria.

Corporate media will naturally throw its collective hands up in horror at the Pandora’s box of secrets that is opened by the voices of these Syrian people who are finally able to speak freely without fear of retribution from the ruling extremist mafia gangs that held them hostage for 6 years in Eastern Ghouta.

These corporate media stenographers will claim these Syrians only speak out of fear of Syrian Government punishment if they were to express views that were against their government. The group-Think Tanks will also denigrate these Syrian civilians, dismissing their words as “carefully selected” condemnation of the atrocities committed by the extremist groups those Atlanticist institutions have promoted and supported throughout the 7 year proxy war.

Will these “experts” and “analysts” have the moral decreptitude to condemn all civilian testimony from within the 85% of inhabited Syrian territory under Syrian government protection as scripted by Syrian government officials?

Testimony is always open to interpretation and requires back-up investigations and empirical evidence but to dismiss this civilian testimony outright is an insult to these people who have endured appalling cruelty and miserable conditions for so many years. They have a right to speak, they have a right to be heard and their testimony should be taken into consideration when evaluating the events inside Syria that have been woefully misrepresented by the Western media bias in favour of a regime change narrative serving the neocon war hawks  in Washington, London and Paris.

How many “anonymous” sources have western media cited to support their claims against the Syrian government, Syrian Arab Army and allies? How many questionable, terrorist affiliated witnesses and western financed shadow state organisations do these media outlets rely upon to provide the narratives that fit into their narrow framework? How many of these western media sideline hecklers have actually been to Syria and confronted these Syrian people with their ‘suspicions’ that they are lying or are speaking under duress?

The interviews I conducted and have uploaded to my YouTube channel are on the whole unedited. They are the unadulterated accounts of life under Jaish Al Islam rule or an assortment of other groups such as Failaq Al Rahman, Ahrar Al Sham, Nusra Front (Al Qaeda). They also contain very clear accusations levied at the NATO-member-state financed and promoted White Helmets – accusations that echo those made by Syrian civilians liberated from a Nusra Front dominated occupation of the Eastern districts of Aleppo in December 2016. I was also present in Syria during that liberation.

In any court of law, these voices would be heard. Their evidence would be taken into account and examined with the seriousness their accusations merit. However, according to western media, they should be buried, scoffed at, marginalised. I leave it to a discerning public to make up their own minds.

1. Terrorists poisoned civilians, left children to die of starvation in basements.

I interviewed this courageous mother in Harjallah IDP centre in April 2018 after the final liberation of #Douma and Eastern Ghouta. Her name is Sabah Al Mushref. 

She spoke to me for some time and I will upload the videos and her testimony bit by bit as it is both harrowing and powerful. She spoke without prompting. We had no government officials with us during the interview. We were allowed to ask any questions we needed to without restrictions. As I have mentioned, corporate media “journalists” love to discredit these testimonies as being ‘influenced’ by the Syrian government but I challenge those armchair “experts” to come to Syria and to tell Sabah she is not telling the truth.

Have these people not suffered enough at the hands of the terrorist groups that the same corporate media in the West describe as “freedom and democracy rebels”? These women have escaped a fate that was ‘worth than death’ for them. Many of these civilians described the multiple “deaths” they experienced living in extremist-occupied Eastern Ghouta. These women were still exhausted and sick but they are safe and life can begin again without the ghosts of death, child abduction, organ theft and torture that haunt them.

This lady clung to her child and told me she had been so frightened for her safety, so many had been “stolen” for organ theft, some just disappeared and were never heard of again.

I will be bringing you more from this Syrian heroine as I receive updated translation of her testimony… she represents all who have suffered under Western backed terrorist rule and who have been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army and their allies… the future is not easy, there is another war to be fought as many Syrians told me, “The war of forgiveness” – but when we see the spirit, the courage of these women and many of the most vulnerable of Syrian society who have endured a life of deprivation, fear and oppression, yet escaped intact and determined to rebuild, to restore and to lead their lives in a Syria free from terrorism…we know that for all of us, the battle is one for justice and freedom for all honourable, true human beings.

2. White Helmets embedded with terrorist groups

One of many, many interviews with civilians from Eastern Ghouta, including medical staff and doctors at the Medical Point in Douma. All told me that the White Helmets were embedded with all terrorist groups and operated in partnership with them. They rarely helped civilians, worked primarily for the armed terrorist fighters.

How many more voices must be raised in accusation against this UK/U.S intelligence construct that has effectively caused so much suffering for the Syrian people?

3. “White Helmets stole everything”

Maan Qseedeh, 23 years old, a resident of Jisreen.

Full Transcript of Testimony:

“We were in our land, farming, working and everything was good, then people from Al-Rahman Brigade and White Helmets showed up.

They kicked us out of our lands, and they took everything from us, even our money, and they kept us imprisoned in the town.We stayed there for a while, then terrorist gangs came and took us to Hazzeh, where we stayed for 2 or 3 days, near al Mahmoud mosque.

Then at night, they told us we were going to be hit by chemical weapons and told us to be cautious.

And then they – White Helmets- hit us with chemical weapons, they hit us with poisonous gases. We put on some home-made masks.

My family and I went upstairs, we stayed for 2 days, then we went back to Jisreen, we stayed there at our relatives’ and the terrorist groups came and told us that the Syrian Arab Army was at the outskirts of Jisreen.

They told us they were going to take all young men to Ain-Tarma, and we had a fight with them.

The army had sent word for us to raise white flags or Syrian flags so they would come to us and help us.

So the terrorists tried to occupy the buildings, and we ganged up on them and kicked them out.

Later, around dusk, a man came demanding all families and residents to move with him to Ain-Tarma, and he said it was forbidden to anybody to leave with the Syrian Arab Army.

A guy left the shelter, and they asked him where he was going, he said he wanted to turn himself in to the Syrian Arab Army, so they shot him, and they did not let anyone pick him up, and told us not to pick him up until he (the man) would come back, then they left.

After they left, a group of our elders raised white flags and walked towards the Syrian Arab Army area, and explained to them what was going on, so they came to us, and got us out. and we’re very good.”

4. Living in fear of child abduction.

Question: When you decided to leave the area, were you afraid for the lives of your children?

Full Transcript of Testimony:

“Of course, I was, we were already scared when we were inside, we didn’t have the nerve to even go out the door, we stayed for nearly 20 days, without food, or water, no bath.

This little girl almost died, she was dehydrated, there was no one to help us there, over there, if you know one of them, they’d feed you, if not, then you’d starve.

We were strangers, we are from Marj Al-Sultan (an area near the Airport), and we sought shelter in Zamalka and Hamourya. So those in charge of those towns treated us badly.

They would feed the people of their town, but not us. and they would tell us to go see the representative of our town, which didn’t exist.

We had some sheep back then, and they were stolen from us in Madyara.

They would attack families, and steal everything, sheep, cars, motorbikes, even batteries.

We ran from Madyara to Nashabiyeh, and it was the same thing, they kidnapped children, and stole organs.

In the last days we were almost dead, So we decided to take the risk, and die once if we had to, instead of dying of hunger, and dying from fear.

Kids being kidnapped, you watch your kids suffer in front of you.

We were denied of everything, even Barley bread, we couldn’t get it, it was 2400 Syrian Pounds for 1 kilo, they just made it a trade.

One kilo of cord reached 2000 Syrian pounds, Sugar reached 6000 or 7000 Syrian pounds.

So, we started using the Diabetic sugar (saccharine) and my chidlren got sick.

This little girl got sick and I took her to Douma, and Jaish Al-Islam told me treatment was only for people of Douma.

Nobody would help us, in the hospitals they wouldn’t even treat us, they would barely provide the basics and kick the kids out.”

5. Civilians used as human shields by Jaish al Islam

Question:  I’m going to ask you a very important question, how did you feel and what was your impression when terrorist groups took over your areas, what did you think?

Full Transcript of Testimony:

“We did not feel comfortable about them, we wanted to get out but they would threaten us, anybody who wanted to leave was to be slaughtered, they said the army was going to slaughter us.

So, the men feared for their lives and stayed inside, women too, we were told we’d be slaughtered because we were from Ghouta, we couldn’t leave, they told us it would be safer for us to stay, So we waited for a solution, and it never came, and things would just get worse, then they didn’t allow us to leave the area. If we wanted to leave through Wafideen camp, or Jisreen, Jaish Al-Islam wouldn’t let us, wherever we wanted to go they would just push us deeper into their territories, to use us as human shields.

When the people found out that it was just getting even worse, and we were so afraid to even walk in the streets, and the death of a person became something very normal – they decided they decided to risk being “killed” by the Syrian Army and they just wanted to be let out. That’s how they finally got the courage to demand to leave the area, when they saw how men, women and children were dying, they decided to leave the area, even if they were going to die, their children at least would live safely.

When they got out and found out nobody was going to kill them, they encouraged the people who remained inside to leave the area as well.”

6. White Helmets staged ‘chemical attacks’

“The White Helmets had workshops where they would burn plastic in 1000 litre tanks until the tanks exploded showering civilians with molten plastic. They would use the burned victims and dead civilians to claim the “Syrian Arab Army” had attacked us with “chemical weapons”.

Full transcript of testimony:

“The White Helmets had workshops producing plastic materials that had a smell similar to chemical gases, a suffocating smell.

If you burn any piece of plastic, you can’t stand there and smell it, it will cause you to suffocate quickly.

They did that a lot in Ghouta, they made a lot of them, they’d put 5 barrels in each workshop, filling it with lots of plastic, and then they would put it on a strong fire, claiming they are trying to extract diesel and Gas from plastic, while it contained some materials that had a smell similar to chemical weapons.

Those barrels/tanks would explode, I’ve seen many tanks explode with my own eyes.

I still know exactly where they are located. If I can take you to Ghouta, I can show you the area where the tanks are. The ones that exploded and killed people.

I was in my car, when the tank exploded, while I was driving about 150 meters away from it.

I watched it from the car window, the tank was a big fire ball, a 1000 litre tank full of plastic.

It flew up, and fell in pieces, burning plastic, those pieces would land on people, some were burned to death, some burned but didn’t die.

1.5 hours later we heard on the news that the “Syrian Arab Army had hit Ghouta with chemical weapons in Hamouryeh”.

I saw that with my own eyes, and the area is still there, I can take you there and show you where it happened, those tanks that exploded are still there. Until now, at the first turn in Beit Sawa, between Hamouryeh, Bait Sawa and Ashaari land, there’s an alley, that’s where the tanks are hidden, and on the right hand you can find the workshops. that’s how they (White Helmets) produced something similar to Chemical weapons.

When 30-40 people would die, they would tell you that the “Syrian Arab Army hit Ghouta with chemical weapons”

While we knew what happened, we couldn’t say a word. He (White Helmet) almost opened fire at me when I slowed down after I saw the tank explode. He told me to go, it was none of my business.

I told him people were burning, he yelled at me, threatened to shoot me, so I just took off quickly, and not just me, there were many people like me, nobody dared to stop, until they finished their scene.

Those who were burned, those who were maimed, and those who died – hours later, or the next day, you’d see them on the news saying that “Eastern Ghouta had been hit by chemical weapons”

It wasn’t ‘chemical weapons’, the workshops are still there, they would take plastic and diesel and make the tanks explode, to terrorise and kill people, so the western countries would believe that it was a chemical weapon hit, while they – the western countries – produce the actual chemical weapons.”

7. White Helmets left civilians to die

Full Transcript of Testimony:

“Civil defence” (White Helmets) were supposed to help wounded civilians, but NO! if any of the terrorists were wounded they would run to their aid, but civilians – NO.

It was very rare, if they (White Helmets) weren’t going to film it, they wouldn’t come. When the camera was there they would run around as if they were helping people.

Our neighbor in Zamalka – we left on Friday, but on the Previous Wednesday, there were strikes.

The ceiling collapsed onto the woman, and her children.

We – the women – pulled 3 kids from under the wreckage, they were alive, but the mother remained there, from the morning till the evening. Nobody came to help. We witnessed that.

Her husband kept running around asking them for help, they said “NO”.

They (White Helmets) blamed us for leaving the basement. We were dying in these basements. The smell, alone, could kill you.

We were sitting on the floor, nothing there, not even toilets, we needed water, they had given us water tanks with taps, but when the taps were broken, they didn’t fix them.

We had to go far away to find water.

When the woman was trapped under the ceiling, they (White Helmets) didn’t come to help her. She stayed there till it was a bit before dusk when groups of people came and got her out…in pieces.”

8. “We raised the Syrian flag and we were targeted for our loyalty to the Syrian state and Army”

Mohammed is a father and grandfather. During the time I interviewed his sons and relatives who had gathered around his bed to talk to me, he was in clear pain from the wound to his leg.

He told me that on the 6th March 2018 he and his family defied the Failaq Al Rahman terrorists and raised the Syrian flag in Hamouriyah in support of the Syrian Arab Army that was closing in on the armed groups in this district.

That evening armed members of Failaq Al Rahman (FAR) came to Mohammed’s house. He told his sons to leave as he feared for their lives.

“I told them they (militants) would not hurt the women”

Mohammed answered the door. The militants opened fire on his legs and as he fell to the floor, his daughter in law tried to help him. The same terrorists beat her with their guns, knocking her unconscious.

Mohammed’s leg was broken in two places. FAR took him to hospital where he was left to bleed for three hours. Then FAR took him to prison where he was kept for five days.

“Underground for five days. I didnt know day from night” Mohammed told me. 

Finally Mohammed’s family pretended to FAR that they were “good with them” and Mohammed was released.

“We said we will stop marching if they gives us our father back”

Since he has arrived safely in Harjallah IDP camp Mohammed has received further medical treatment and a wheelchair from the Red Crescent.

All interviews were conducted without any Syrian government officials present in the room. Only the translator was with me and they had no input in the conversation, simply translated my questions.


Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team.

Special thanks to BSNEWS for publishing these testimonies.


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