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WHITE HELMETS: ‘Humanitarians’ and the ‘Moderate’ Bomb Factory in Saqba, Eastern Ghouta


Failaq Al Rahman missile store next door to White Helmet headquarters in Saqba, Eastern Ghouta. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

Saqba in Eastern Ghouta was finally liberated during the third week of March 2018 and civilians were released from six years of brutality and hardship under occupation by Al Qaeda affiliate – Failaq Al Rahman brigade, one of the most sectarian, extremist groups that had taken control of western areas of Ghouta countryside in the Eastern outskirts of Damascus city. 


Roads into Saqba, Eastern Ghouta. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I entered Saqba with my interpreter after a drive through a lush and verdant countryside, wheat billowing in the wind as we drove past. There was certainly no reason to believe that food was as scarce as described by Western media in their rush to portray ‘Syrian Government siege’ conditions of starvation and misery for Syrian civilians.

During my time in all districts of liberated Eastern Ghouta, civilian testimony was reminiscent of East Aleppo and Madaya – the terrorist factions received humanitarian supplies, stockpiled them and traded them at extortionate prices to the civilians under their control. The starvation was a direct result of the inter extremist group trade wars and profiteering at the expense of the civilians they claimed to represent.


Saqba, main square. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Failaq Al Rahman was the dominant force in Saqba leading up to the final liberation but prior to that the town had been divided into sectors controlled by sectarian groups that intermittently cooperated and fought among themselves. A Syrian Arab Army soldier stationed in the town took us up onto the roof of the army headquarters and pointed  out the mosque at one time under control of Saudi-financed Jaish Al Islam and about 200 metres to the left, the mosque occupied by Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) which was recognisable from its blackened minaret. Up on the roof it was easier to see how the town may have been divided by invisible Mafia gang demarcation lines.

The following short video shows the two competing faction mosques in Saqba. Watch: 


Saqba was one of the towns in Eastern Ghouta, whose civilians chose to stay in the town rather than evacuate, via the Syrian/Russian humanitarian corridors, during the battles for liberation. Post-liberation, I was informed that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had more than a “security” role in “peace-time” – they also had a humanitarian one, in charge of restoring electricity, water and essential supplies to the stricken town.


Schoolchildren in Saqba after liberation. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

For three years the children here have not had a proper education under terrorist rule. Our priority is to enable schools to re-open and for secular education to begin again” the General in Saqba told me.


Abandoned furniture showroom in Saqba. The owner left with Failaq Al Rahman for Idlib. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Saqba is historically famous for its furniture industry. Everywhere we went in the narrow streets we saw abandoned furniture storehouses and factories..chairs piled haphazardly on top of ornate desks.

We were told that one furniture show room belonged to a man who had chosen to depart with Failaq Al Rahman to Idlib. Two spacious rooms were packed with dust covered bedside cupboards, tables and wardrobes of all dimensions.

A life disrupted, a lifetime of work discarded, an uncertain future in Idlib province teeming with untold numbers of extremist and terrorist groups, many of them evacuated from previously liberated areas such as East Aleppo and Homs. The effects of this war are far-reaching and devastating, sometimes glimpsed in the smallest of details.


Chairs stored in a first floor room visible from the roof of a neighbouring building in Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Many times in Damascus we had taken one of the servis yellow taxis to our destination. Two of the drivers we spoke to had had furniture factories in Eastern Ghouta. They had been destroyed in the early years of the occupation when many civilians fled for the safety of the Syrian Government protected main City of Damascus. When we asked them if they intended going back now Eastern Ghouta was safe, they told us they have lost everything, they prefer to stay where they are. They had a good life before the war, a life of comfort, stability and security. That all changed when Syria was suddenly plunged into an externally imposed conflict in 2011/12.

Saqba White Helmets

Saqba had also been the location of one of the main White Helmet centres in Eastern Ghouta. The General in charge of operations in Saqba told me:

“The leader of the White Helmets in Eastern Ghouta and Saqba was a Syrian from Damascus who came to this area in 2011. Over time, he persuaded young people here to join the group. To our knowledge, more than twenty persons joined over time, including two women and three people from Saqba. We don’t know where they are now, we assume they are in Idlib with Failaq Al Rahman and the other groups, like Jaish Al Islam, Nusra Front”

The General went on to describe how the White Helmets operated in Saqba and throughout Eastern Ghouta:

“They had a relatively sophisticated communications system. They used codes by phone and SMS to relay information to one another.”

The General went on to tell me that the White Helmets had attempted to destroy all evidence connected to their group before they were evacuated alongside Failaq Al Rahman militants. “They set fire to their main vehicle storage buildings and we only managed to recover a few of the items they left behind.” he told me. “The communications building was gutted, they took everything with them. They only left the satellite dishes and masts behind on the roof”

This is very different to the final evacuation from East Aleppo when the various abandoned White Helmet centres in all districts occupied by over 50 different brigades of extremists and terrorists such as Nusra Front, were found strewn with documents, photographs and Al Qaeda memorabilia. It seems that the White Helmets were instructed to be a little more organised when leaving Eastern Ghouta.

Some of the items that were recovered and safely stored can be seen in the slide show of photographs below:


After sifting through the items that had been collected into a room in an office in Saqba, we were able to visit the White Helmet centres themselves.  In contrast to the centres I had seen in East Aleppo, this complex was much bigger and incredibly well positioned. It had water supply via a canal than ran alongside the buildings. In between and surrounding the two structures were small agricultural fields that had obviously been used for growing wheat. The complex was relatively isolated from the surrounding residential appartments and easy to defend. It was also next door to the Saqba electrical power station that was being repaired during my visit.


Saqba electric power station. Viewed from roof of White Helmet communications building. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

“We were not allowed anywhere near the White Helmet centre” Ziad B told me, a local resident who had not left Saqba during the six year occupation by the extremist groups.

Outside the second building was the still decaying corpse of a german shepherd dog, decomposing in the sun. A local resident told me the White Helmets had shot the dog when they departed for Idlib but it had been used as a guard dog during their occupation of the two buildings. They reiterated that civilians were forbidden from visiting the centre.

“We serve all the people of Syria – we are from the people and we are for the people.”  according to the White Helmet “about uswebpage – which makes their exclusion zone for Syrian civilians all the more curious. What were they protecting, hiding or doing that should not be witnessed by those civilians?


The burned out remains of the vehicle & equipment storage building used by the White Helmets in Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

In the first building were the burned remains of vehicles and equipment that had been torched prior to evacuation. We could still see White Helmet overalls among the debris and the twisted metal of fire-trucks and ambulances.

“The White Helmets murdered a driver of one of the fire-trucks and then they stole the truck” Mahmoud, an elderly man, told me, pointing at a truck at the back of the building.

“They killed the driver in front of his sister, I was her neighbour so I saw it too, he was responding to a call-out to a fire in Saqba. They (White Helmets) killed him and left his body in the streets for the dogs. His sister fled to Damascus, she was so scared. After that they stopped us from leaving, forced us to stay here in Saqba….they stole the truck and put their logo on it.”


Fire truck reported as stolen, by White Helmets, from a murdered Real Sryia Civil Defence crew member, Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Again this is a familiar story regarding the White Helmet vehicle acquirement techniques.  The following is testimony I took in 2016, from a REAL Syria Civil Defence worker originally from East Aleppo, describing the invasion by armed groups from among whose ranks emerged the White Helmets:

“They came in and they drove us out of our homes and they came to the Syria Civil Defence yard and they killed some of my comrades, they kidnapped others.  They wanted to force me to work with them.  I escaped at night.  I was forced to leave my teenage sons behind. They burned my house to the ground and they put my name on all the terrorist checkpoints so if I go back, they will kill me.

They are terrorists, not rescuers.  They stole our ambulances and three of our fire engines. They don’t do any rescue work.  They drive round with guns in the back of their car like any other terrorist.  Some are from East Aleppo, some are from Syria but not from Aleppo and some are even coming in from abroad.” ~ The Real Syria Civil Defence Exposes White Helmets as Terrorist-Linked Imposters.


Tamkeen (Local Council project pioneered by Adam Smith International and Integrity Consulting) jacket in Saqba White Helmet centre. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

In among the rubble of the building I also found a jacket bearing the logo of Tamkeen. This was particularly interesting to me as I had previously investigated the links between White Helmets, Local Councils (Tamkeen Project) and the Free Syrian Police in East Aleppo. All created, financed and promoted by the UK Foreign Office and U.S Administration in Washington, all with clear links to terrorist groups including Nusra Front:

The White Helmets, the Free Syrian Police, the Local Councils in terrorist held areas of Syria – are all being financed, promoted, equipped and supported by the UK FCO in its campaign to undermine the Syrian state, its people & its leadership. Money that is taken under false pretences through taxation is almost certainly funding terrorism that has undergone various branding, and rebranding schemes in order to conceal this nefarious activity.” ~ White Helmets and Local Councils – Is the UK FCO Financing Terrorism in Syria with Taxpayer Funds?

The White Helmets tried to destroy any incriminating evidence but thankfully (for those investigating them) they were still careless.


View from 1st floor of second White Helmet building – looking back at first building in Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The following is a slide show of the photographs taken in the first White Helmet building. Watch:

White Helmets Communications Centre in Saqba, Eastern Ghouta. Building Two.


White Helmet communications centre, Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

We then walked from the first building to the second communication and residential centre, a six storey building that towered above the surrounding countryside and homes. As we climbed the debris laden stairs to the sixth floor and the roof I saw how advantageous this location had been for the White Helmets. From the roof you have a panoramic birds eye view of almost all of Eastern Ghouta. In fact in the distance I could see the plumes of smoke rising from the SAA military campaign to liberate southern Damascus from ISIS. A campaign that has been declared victorious in the last 24 hours.

Damascus is 100% free from terrorism as of 21st May 2018. A momentous day, that the 7 year misery for all Syrians living in the capital city pounded incessantly by terrorist mortar fire,  finally comes to an end.


View from rooftop of White Helmet communications building in Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Video taken from the roof of the White Helmet communications centre in Saqba. Watch:


Both these buildings were joined by an underground tunnel which clearly enabled the White Helmet operatives to pass undetected between the buildings. The tunnel also extended beyond the electrical power station to the Failaq Al Rahman bomb making factory about 200 metres from the White Helmet centre.


Tunnel passing between White Helmet centres and Failaq Al Rahman bomb factory in Saqba. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Failaq Al Rahman Bomb Factory Next Door to White Helmets.

Having descended from the dizzying views of the White Helmet building rooftop, we continued on past the electric power station to the building that had been converted into a bomb factory and missile launching centre by Nusra Front splinter group – Failaq Al Rahman.


Failaq Al Rahman bomb factory in Saqba, next door to White Helmets centres. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

What greeted us inside the building were shocking stockpiles of missiles, bomb making equipment and a number of injection moulding machines that had been converted to produce the shells, mortars and rockets that were scattered all over the building on the first floor and basement.

“Failaq Al Rahman used this area as a launch pad” one of the soldiers pointed to just outside the building, the flatter area between the water wheel and the entrance. From this area the terrorist group would fire the mortars and shells into Damascus City centre, into residential areas, schools and crowded market places.

Since 2012, 11,000 civilians had been killed by mortar fire from Eastern Ghouta, 1500 of those children, 30,000 had been permanently disabled. Over 14,800 missiles had been fired into Damascus from Eastern Ghouta between 2012 and February 2018 when the casualty clock stopped counting as the final liberation drew closer.

(Those statistics were taken from official posters, that I saw displayed in the courtyards of the Churches in the Old City)

Very few of these civilian casualties of the “moderate” extremist attacks are ever mentioned by western media… in their rush to whitewash the crimes of the groups they love to call “rebels”.

We could still see varied dimension hell-cannon poking out of the debris and the two wheeled trolleys that were used to move them around to the optimum position for targeting specific locations in Damascus.

This was an industrial scale factory of death. The sheer number of missiles that had been left behind was staggering for one manufacturing site in a small Eastern Ghouta town.

Everywhere we looked, bombs poked their noses out from the dust, rubble and detritus of war. The basement had obviously been a hive of manufacturing activity. The injection moulding machines were packed into a relatively small space, lined up against the walls surrounded by tools and an assortment of metal objects. I picked up a belt buckle that sparkled next to my foot:

“They used to melt those down to fill the bomb moulds” one of the soldiers told me. It was hard to imagine how many belt buckles would need to be melted down to make a missile that would tear into limbs and flesh over 15 km away in Damascus..but this is exactly what these militants did, they recycled metal and transformed it into weapons that would murder and maim Syrian civilians.

For a full “tour” of the Failaq Al Rahman factory, I have compiled the photographs into another slide show. Watch:


The White Helmets lived next door to this factory and yet never thought to warn the Syrian civilians of its presence or to supply intelligence to their own US/UK bankrollers that these Al Qaeda allied terrorist factions were carrying out human rights violations next door to their “humanitarian” complex that no civilians were allowed to visit.

After all, according to the UK’s Times Newspaper – The White Helmets give the world a window on the atrocities of war

Britain considers that they play an “invaluable reporting and advocacy role”, and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has said they are its most routinely reliable source.

The White Helmets have provided video evidence of atrocities in Syria, to the outrage particularly of Russia. The United Nations has relied on their documenting of alleged war crimes and use of prohibited weapons in Syria.” (Emphasis added)

The Times copy-pasted UK FCO data directly into this report on the White Helmets, the phrasing re Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International considering the White Helmets to be their most “routinely reliable  source” was plucked directly from a UK FCO, Syria Resilience CSSF (Conflict Stability and Security Fund) Programme Summary, published in April 2017.

One year later, the Times cited this UK government document as part of a damage limitation exercise after the White Helmets were accused by Russia, of staging the chemical weapon attack in Douma, on 7th April 2018, in a last ditch attempt to prevent its full liberation from Saudi-financed, UK-promoted Jaish Al Islam (Army of Islam).

As we see so often these days, corporate media does not investigate government policies or statements, it regurgitates them, verbatim, without analysis or question. The media are nothing more than political instruments for the ruling establishment.

Another interesting element of the original UK FCO document is the following sentence:

“Throughout the bombardment by Russia since September 2015, SCD has provided essential corroboration that strikes were not targeting Da’esh but moderate opposition entities.”

This sounds rather as if the White Helmets are tasked with providing the “evidence” that supports/corroborates the UK Government official narrative on Syria and enables their criminalisation of the Syrian government and its allies, particularly Russia. Surely the “evidence” from on the ground should be what determines policy not policy that determines the “evidence”?

Another question. Why do the brutally sectarian, extremist groups supposedly the sworn enemy of the “West” accept, embrace and work so closely with an organisation effectively produced, financed and promoted by their arch enemy – the “West”? Why would these extremist factions not suspect that the White Helmets would be transmitting information to the “West” with their western supplied satellite, communication systems? Intelligence information that might jeopardize the continued existence of terrorist groups that are the internationally recognised enemies of the “West” – such as Al Qaeda under any of its diversionary monikers.

Terrorist groups that departed from Eastern Ghouta were accompanied by the White Helmets, just as they were from East Aleppo. Why didn’t the White Helmets remain to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta or from East Aleppo? Why did they not remain behind to help with the rebuilding? Why do they always move with the militant and terrorist groups?

Perhaps the West is financing both ends of the spectrum?  Perhaps the White Helmets do not report or document the atrocities committed against the Syrian people by the aforementioned terrorist groups because that would run contrary to the agenda of their sponsors? How can an alleged “humanitarian” organisation work among extremist groups who torture, execute, imprison, rape and commit endless atrocities against the Syrian people – and not throw their hands up in horror or provide documentation to condemn these groups?

Perhaps because both sides of the intervention coin are working hand in hand and are financed by the same Western states?

For myself and for many of the public in the West increasingly frustrated by the media monopoly on the Syria conflict, these are rhetorical questions. For western media they are questions “that must not be asked under any circumstances”.


‘Feminist War’? Amnesty International’s NATO marketing campaign during the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago. 

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch consider the White Helmets to be their “most routinely reliable source“. Mull that one over for a minute. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were created as revolving door instruments of power that would be used to crack target nations open with false humanitarian pretexts designed to “manufacture consent” for one regime change war after another. Remember  Libya and Iraq. Remember Benghazi, womens rights in Afghanistan, WMDs in Iraq. Remember any of these blatant false flags that took us to war and Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch will be right there dancing in the shadows with their professional poster campaigns and No Fly Zone ‘crusades’.

“In 1991, Amnesty International eagerly acquiesced to the $11 million Wag the Dog public relations campaign–devised for the Pentagon by the Hill & Knowlton PR firm–to generate support for the US invasion of Iraq, and in 2012, AI was an enthusiastic cheerleader in support of the escalated bombing of Afghanistan by NATO.” ~ Impunity International

The White Helmets are not an NGO, they are a NATO-member-state and Gulf State- funded organisation created explicitly to serve the interests of their backers, specifically regime change in Syria, the severing of ties between the Syrian government in Damascus and Russia, the expulsion of all Iranian and Hezbollah influence  from Syria, the partitioning or destablisation of Syria to serve the interests of the Zionist state on their borders and of course the procurement of as many resources as possible by the imperialist forces.

The White Helmets “corroborate” the UK Government narrative on Syria which is regurgitated by the state aligned media in order to deceive their viewers/readers in the West. The White Helmets are a “routinely reliable” source for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who corroborate the UK/U.S administration line in order to reinforce the perceived need for “humanitarian” intervention inside a resistant sovereign nation, in this instance, Syria.

The UK FCO document even explains the endgame of all this corroboration:

“This has provided confidence to statements made by UK and other international leaders made in condemnation of Russian actions” (emphasis added)

When do the White Helmet narratives “serve” the objectives of the Syrian people, the majority of whom would like this war to be over and for their lives to return to their former stability and security before they were caught up in a war engineered by hostile forces outside Syria who would deprive these people of their right to choose their own future and to defend their secular state from the threat of an extremist, Islamist state financed by the same external powers.

“Maaloula is an ancient town in Syria that still speaks Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. [..]We truly believe that the enemies of Syria will no longer exist when we win…and we will win this war. Maaloula was attacked in 2013 – by Free Syrian Army, Nusra Front, DAESH, like Al Farouq, all of these denominations that most Europeans and Americans call “moderate opposition”. When we defended Maaloula we didnt defend churches, we defended people, we defended believers and we defended our choice for a Syrian Secular State, we defended our choice to elect our own government, we defended our choice to live in the Syria we love…” ~ Abdo Haddad, from Maaloula

The White Helmets do not call for Peace, they effectively lobby for war.

The White Helmets are not a “Humanitarian” organisation according to the many civilian testimonies I recorded in Eastern Ghouta and East Aleppo, the two areas where the greatest concentration of this organisation could be found prior to liberation by the SAA and allies. Even refugees from Idlib, almost the last terrorist/White Helmet stronghold in Syria, have told me the same thing.  I met one SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) volunteer in Hama. She had been working in Idlib before it became too dangerous and she told me:

“White Helmets are terrorists. They are specialists in acting and drama, not humanitarian work. The White Helmets abuse the “humanitarian” title to gain trust and to brainwash people in Syria and outside. They are a big lie. There are many foreigners working in the White Helmets”

I leave you with the words of just one of the many civilians from Eastern Ghouta that I spoke to during my recent trip to Damascus. In April 2018, Sabah Al Mushref told me:

“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.”


“One day we can hope that those responsible for the war propaganda used against us will face the peoples’ justice but in the meantime we have to be aware that when we are confronted with it, when we open a newspaper, turn on the television, or radio, click that link on the internet, we are the victims of a war crime, the use of war propaganda as part of the crime of aggression, each and every one of us. And if that does not make you angry then what hope is there for peace in this world?” ~ Christopher Black, International Criminal Lawyer.

Please also watch a report from independent journalist, Eva Bartlett, who visited Saqba a few days after I did.


***

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WHITE HELMETS BY READING THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES:

BBC and Guardian Whitewash of UK FCO Funding Scandal in Syria
What to Expect From BBC Panorama and Guardian’s Whitewash of UK Gov’t Funding Terrorists in Syria

White Helmets Evidence Presented at Geneva Press Club:
Vanessa Beeley Presents Exposé on White Helmets at Swiss Press Club in Geneva

‘Global Britain’ – UK Funding a Shadow State in Syria
‘Global Britain’ is Financing Terrorism and Bloodshed in Syria and Calling it ‘Aid’

White Helmets – Hollywood Poster Boys:

WHITE HELMETS: State Sanctioned Terrorism and Hollywood Poster Boys for War

21st Century Wire:
New Report Destroys Fabricated Myth of Syria’s ‘White Helmets’

Initial Investigation into White Helmets:
Who are Syria’s White Helmets?

21st Century Wire article on the White Helmets:  
Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception ~ the “Moderate” Executioners

Who Funds the White Helmets?
Secret £1bn UK War Chest Used to Fund the White Helmets and Other ‘Initiatives’

Original investigative report:
The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake White Helmets as Terrorist-Linked Imposters 

Irish Peace Prize Farce
Tipperary’s White Helmets Peace Prize: A Judas Kiss to the Antiwar Movement and Syria

White Helmets Executions
WHITE HELMETS: Severed Heads of Syrian Arab Army Soldiers Paraded as Trophies

CNN Fabricate News About the White Helmets
A NOBEL LIE: CNN’s Claim That ‘White Helmets Center in Damascus’ Was Hit by a Barrel Bomb

White Helmets Links to Al Nusra
WHITE HELMETS: Hand in Hand with Al Qaeda and Extremist Child Beheaders in Aleppo

Report by Patrick Henningsen
AN INTRODUCTION: Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex

Open Letter by Vanessa Beeley
White Helmets Campaign for War NOT Peace – Retract RLA & Nobel Peace Prize Nominations

Staged Rescue Videos
(VIDEO) White Helmets: Miraculous ‘Rag Doll Rescue’

White Helmets Oscar Award Farce:
Forget Oscar: Give The White Helmets the Leni Riefenstahl Award for Best War Propaganda Film

Cory Morningstar report:
Investigation into the funding sources of the White Helmets, including Avaaz, Purpose, The Syria Campaign

Open letter to Canadian MPs from Stop the War Hamilton (Canada):
Letter from the Hamilton Coalition to Stop War to the New Democratic Party in Canada ref the White Helmet nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize:

Open letter to Canada’s NDP Leader on Nobel Prize:
Letter to NDP from Prof. John Ryan protesting White Helmet nomination for RLA and Nobel Peace Prize.

READ MORE WHITE HELMETS NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire White Helmets Files

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

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