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Syria’s Disappeared: The Story of Adra

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | August 19, 2018

The question of “Syria’s Disappeared” just won’t go away! Faced with the dreadful prospect of President Assad “remaining in power” following the begrudging admission of defeat by Syria’s enemies, supporters of the failed “revolution” are digging in with their accusations of war crimes and torture by the Syrian government.

The resurrected story is the same, with a few embellishments – the demon Assad and his minions have abducted thousands of innocent people that they didn’t like, and tortured and starved them to death – but then oddly and rather morbidly cataloged and photographed every corpse. Showing the depth of their psychopathology, they have then left these detailed records in a place where they might be found, by Caesar of all people, and exposed to the world to see.

This story has been around so long that it starts to look suspicious; it was Hillary Clinton who foresaw the opportunity to demonize the Syrian government at the same time she was masterminding the shipping of weapons and fighters to Syria from Benghazi. Clinton set up the “Syria Justice and Accountability Centre” in mid-2012, which later became the quango known as the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, operated by Canadian lawyer and war-tribunal veteran Bill Wiley.

When funding for this “private non-profit organization” was cut by Obama in 2014, it was described like this:

For the past two years, the U.S. State Department has channeled a total of $1 million in funds to the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), a group of international war crimes prosecutors that sends local researchers, lawyers, and law students into Syrian battle zones to collect and extract files and other evidence that can help map the Syrian command structure and identify the military orders authorizing illegal activities, including barrel bomb campaigns, the starvation of besieged towns, and a spate of mass murders that have pushed the conflict’s death toll past 190,000 since March 2011.

Perhaps the funding was suspended because these researchers failed to find anything that constituted real evidence of crimes committed by the Syrian military, amongst the everyday atrocities of the violent extremists they were fighting. The “Caesar photographs” and alleged evidence of torture and abuse of government prisoners seem in fact to be all that CIJA has to focus on, which isn’t saying much. Apart from being comprehensively debunked by impartial analysts, even the producers of Channel 4’s serial “Syria’s Disappeared” who have been pushing the story for years, are remarkably unconvincing. All they manage to highlight in this report is the surprisingly caring attitude of Syrian authorities towards prisoners:

A memo of one meeting of Military Intelligence officers in 2013 reiterates how detainees should be treated: “It is imperative to attend to the cleanliness of the prison and all its facilities, and the hygiene and health of detainees… to preserve lives and reduce deaths which have considerably risen lately.”

Nowhere in the reports, of course, can any discussion be found that might actually explain why the Syrian government would want to starve and torture prisoners, leave alone “innocent women and children”. If the reports are true – which seems unlikely – this would only invite comparison with the global experts in such treatment, like the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In reality, there is a true story of “Syria’s disappeared” that dates from almost the same time as the Caesar photos – the story of Adra. There are no images showing the victims of Jaish al Islam and Al Nusra’s bloodletting in December 2013, other than those permanently etched on survivors’ memories, and in the imaginations of millions of Syrians who learnt of the massacres at the time.

Recently these painful memories were unearthed again, but not in some sort of catharsis; what happened in Douma in April turned the knife in that terrible wound.

Middle East Eye reported –

The rebel group which held the last pocket near Damascus before its surrender this week exaggerated hostage numbers in order to gain leverage in negotiations with the Syrian government and Russia, a spokesman for the group has told Middle East Eye.

For almost five years, Jaish al-Islam had controlled the besieged Eastern Ghouta town of Douma and was holding hostages who had been captured during the group’s assault, along with the Al-Nusra Front, in December 2013 on the nearby town of Adra.

Syrian government officials have put the figure of those held by Jaish al-Islam at around 5,000, although some Syrians, according to various reports, believe the figure is over 7,000. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is frequently quoted in Western media, put the figure at 3,500.

Hours after suspected chemical weapons attacks on the town last Saturday – the same attacks which have spurred the US, France, and the UK to consider military action – the group reached a final agreement with Russia and the Syrian government for the evacuation of Douma.

But when only 200 hostages were released in exchange for the safe passage of 8,000 fighters and 40,000 of their family members, many questioned what Jaish al-Islam had done with thousands of Syrians.

Middle East Eye is a partial observer. In fact, a special event was organized to welcome the desperately hoped for thousands of “disappeared” hostages, whose fate at the hands of their merciless and brutal kidnappers was completely unknown. It was widely believed that these hostages were being held as slaves, kept in the tunnels they were forced to dig for the terrorist groups, as well as being periodically slaughtered and displayed as wrapped corpses to the Western world, as victims of Syrian government “massacres”.

So when the much heralded “convoy” arrived, of only TWO buses, the hundreds of relatives of the missing thousands became hysterical. They could hardly imagine what terrible fate had taken their loved ones, what torture or humiliation or deprivation. And those who had perpetrated these horrors, and now had committed one last act of treachery and trickery to secure their freedom, had been allowed to escape to safety – along with their foreign assistants.

For weeks there had been negotiations with Jaish al Islam to try to secure the release of the hostages, whose assumed presence in Douma prevented Syrian and Russian forces from using artillery and bombs against the terrorists. In retrospect, this appears to have been a calculated tactic in which the staging of the “chemical weapons attack” immediately before concluding the evacuation agreement was the defining act.

Jaish al Islam and their White Helmet partners knew there were only a handful of captives, but knew that the Syrian government didn’t know how many could be hidden, and couldn’t risk killing any. The Syrian Army also knew what sort of enemy they were dealing with, ever since the battle was lost to protect the residents of Adra.

I was reminded of the “Adra massacre” by our Syrian guide in May as we drove past the city on the newly re-opened road to Homs. Like most Syrians, he has not forgotten what was done there, and could not forget. RT reported at the time:

New details of atrocities carried out by Islamist rebel fighters in the town of Adra, 20 kilometers north of Damascus, continue to pour in from survivors of the massacre there, in which reportedly at least 80 people lost their lives.

“The decapitators” is how the Adra residents, who managed to flee the violence there, now call the people who currently have the town under their control. Adra, a town with a population of 20,000, was captured by Islamist rebels from the Al-Nusra front and the Army of Islam last week, following fierce fighting with the government forces. The town’s seizure was accompanied by mass executions of civilians.

“An Adra resident said he escaped from the town “under a storm of bullets.” He later contacted his colleagues, who described how the executions of civilians were carried out by the militants.

“They had lists of government employees on them,” the man told RT. “This means they had planned for it beforehand and knew who works in the governmental agencies. They went to the addresses they had on their list, forced the people out and subjected them to the so-called “Sharia trials.” I think that’s what they call it. They sentenced them to death by beheading.”

A woman, hiding her face from the camera, told RT of the beheadings she had seen.

“There was slaughter everywhere,” she said. “The eldest was only 20 years old; he was slaughtered. They were all children. I saw them with my own eyes. They killed fourteen people with a machete. I don’t know if these people were Alawites. I don’t know why they were slaughtered. They grabbed them by their heads and slaughtered them like sheep.”

Kinda Shimat, Syria’s Social Affairs Minister, told RT:

“Civilians told us that the workers of an Adra bakery were all executed and burned during the first hours of the attack. Whole families were massacred. We do not have an exact estimation of the number because we are unable to get into the town, but the number is high.”

I had heard these reports at the time, and how people were terrorized; allegations that women had thrown themselves from windows rather than suffer some horrific torture at the hands of these men. Our guide – a straightforward and honest man – told me in private what he had heard – that these terrorist zealots had cut off the breasts of the “Alawite women” as trophies of their conquest. Like the horrible things done to women during the attack on Alawite villages near Lattakia only months earlier, discussing such obscenity seems beneath the dignity of normal people, even suggesting some morbid fascination with mutilation and torture.

That could put us on a par with those amongst Syria’s enemies who have contrived to use violent extremists and terrorists, not only to achieve their objectives in the Middle East but also to elicit support for “intervention” in the guise of self-defense for their own populations.

But of course, it does not. Those men, and even women, who directly enabled the monsters of the “Army of Islam” to hold and torture the residents of Adra and Douma for five years, restocking their arsenal and their warehouses while parading them as victims of Syrian brutality – well they are beyond contempt, even beneath the dignity and honour of thieves.

Perhaps we could now talk about them and start to catalog their crimes.

August 19, 2018 - Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. “supporters of the failed “revolution” are digging in with their accusations of war crimes and torture by the Syrian government”.
    Accusations are a ‘dime a dozen’ but “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”…..

    “Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), a group of international war crimes prosecutors that sends local researchers, lawyers, and law students into Syrian battle zones to collect and extract files and other evidence”

    CIJA?(Is that CIA?)…”Sending Lawyers and Law Students” into Syrian battle zones”, sounds like complete Bullsh** to me, and anyone else with a functioning brain…..If it were that easy, the “CIA” could have gone in and ‘taken out’ Assad……

    In the battle between “Truth” and “Propaganda” these days, I’d say propaganda is winning by about 99%

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | August 19, 2018 | Reply


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