A UN committee has produced another one-sided, bogus ‘human rights’ report on last year’s liberation of Aleppo, Syria’s second city. Co-authored by US diplomat Karen AbuZayd and Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, the report attacks both the Syrian Army and the al Qaeda groups (UNGA 2017).
However its stronger condemnation of the Syrian Army is notable, as part of constant attempts to delegitimise the Syrian people’s struggle to liberate their own country from the NATO-backed terrorists. This report follows similar partisan attacks from ‘watchdog’ groups embedded with the US State Department, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty USA.
None of these groups have condemned the anti-ISIS operation in Mosul (Iraq) in the way they did the anti-al Qaeda operations in Aleppo (Syria).
The principal effect of the one-sided and bogus ‘human rights’ reports on Syria is to prolong the war and embolden foreign powers who, in open breach of international law, arm and finance all the al Qaeda groups in Syria and Iraq.
Although the latest AbuZayd-Pinheiro report is poorly referenced it follows much the same method as other US-backed ‘human rights’ denunciations: (i) speak to a number of anonymous al Qaeda ‘victims’ and their families, mainly in Turkey but some also by phone in the al Qaeda occupied parts of Syria, (ii) collate the latest claims from US-funded and jihadist-linked groups, (iii) make no visit to Syria nor communicate with Syrian organisations (e.g. there is no sign the committee tried to speak with the 4,000 member Aleppo Medical Association) and then (iv) present a thoroughly one-sided judgement.
The western media mounted furious propaganda resistance to the Syrian Army’s operation to take back Aleppo, claiming there were ‘indiscriminate’ airstrikes, and so on. Syria and Russia denied these accusations and the AbuZayd-Pinheiro report has backed them all.
Notable features of the report include: obviously false assertions about supposed ‘daily airstrikes’ on Aleppo city, the suggestion that al Qaeda makeshift clinics were the only ‘hospitals’ in Aleppo, and the baseless claim that Syrian-Russian airstrikes destroyed a humanitarian convoy.
The report claims that “Syrian and Russian air forces conducted daily air strikes in Aleppo throughout most of the period under review”, that is July-December 2016. On this basis the committee adopts the armed groups’ claims that eastern Aleppo was subject to constant ‘barrel bomb’ and chemical weapons attacks (UNGA 2017).
However, unlike the AbuZayd-Pinheiro report, much of the western media did report that air strikes on the city were halted in mid-October, as humanitarian corridors were established for the evacuation of civilians. When Russian air strikes resumed several weeks later, in mid-November (despite efforts by the New York Times on 16 November to fudge this detail), they were on al Qaeda and ISIS groups in rural Idlib and rural Aleppo; not on the city. The liberation of Aleppo between October and December was almost entirely through Syrian ground forces smashing resistance street by street. So the ‘daily airstrikes’ on Aleppo city, spoken of in the AbuZayd-Pinheiro report, is an obvious falsehood.
On hospitals, the report names several armed group makeshift clinics in eastern Aleppo, none of which were marked and registered hospitals. (Clinics lose their protection under international law when they become covert military support installations.) By contrast there is not one single mention of the large hospitals of western Aleppo (Dabbit, Ibn Rush and al Razi), which were bombed by the al Qaeda groups in 2016.
The attack on a UN humanitarian convoy on 20 September (just days after the 17 September US-led airstrike massacre of 80 Syrian soldiers fighting ISIS in Deir Ezzor) was blamed squarely on a Syrian or Russian airstrike, it seems on the basis of evidence from anonymous ‘witnesses’. There is no plausible motive for this. Syria and Russia were and remain the largest providers of services and humanitarian aid to all Aleppo communities.
The report fails to mention the fact that the armed groups in eastern Aleppo had emphatically rejected humanitarian aid, holding a demonstration just one week before the burning of those trucks. A UN spokesperson at the time claimed the armed groups were blocking the delivery of aid for “political gain” (Sanchez 2016). Further, the Russian military had observed that there were no craters on the road nor destruction of the trucks’ chassis, as would be the case with aerial bombing (RT 2016). The area had been occupied by al Qaeda groups who have a record of murder of civilian drivers and burning trucks; they did this two months later when civilian trucks traveled through Idlib to the besieged Shi’a villages of al Fouaa and Kefraya (Pasha-Robinson 2016). The AbuZayd-Pinheiro claims about Russian-Syrian airstrikes on this convoy and therefore baseless and contrary to the known evidence.
The AbuZayd-Pinheiro committee is the same one which, from Geneva, fabricated a report on the terrible Houla massacre of May 2012, in which over 100 villagers were killed by the NATO-backed Farouq Brigade (FSA). At least 15 independent witnesses identified Farouq brigade (FSA) leaders (Abdulrazzq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf) and local collaborators (Haitham al Housan, Saiid Fayes al Okesh, Haitham al Halq and Nidal Bakkur) for the massacre (see Anderson 2016: Ch. 8). The AbuZayd-Pinheiro committee, however, tried to blame un-named “shabiha” militia loyal to President Assad. No motive was given. Some of these villagers had participated in the recent National Assembly elections, over which the jihadists had demanded a boycott. The obvious partisan nature of the Houla report led Russia, China, India and others to withdraw their support from this and future UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.
Karen AbuZayd is a director of the Washington based Middle East Policy Council, itself a strong supporter of the US-led dirty war on Syria. Other MEPC directors include present and former US military, intelligence, oil industry and other US corporate figures. On simple conflict of interest principles she should never have been appointed to such a committee, as a diplomat from one of the warring parties. Former UN Secretary general Ban Ki Moon was responsible for this error. Washington, for its part, has been too absorbed in hubris to notice that it is unseemly to pretend to be both assailant and mediator.
UN special envoy Stefan di Mistura, despite being ‘appalled and shocked’ that the armed gangs were targeting and killing ‘scores’ of civilians in western Aleppo by ‘relentless and indiscriminate’ rocket attacks (BBC 30 October), nevertheless proposed an ‘autonomous zone’ in eastern Aleppo to protect the al Qaeda controlled areas. The proposal was emphatically rejected by the Syrian Government (Reuters 20 November), which went on to eject all the al Qaeda groups from Aleppo in late December 2016.
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Anderson, Tim (2016) The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, Montreal
Barnard, Anne and Ivan Nechepurenko (2016) ‘Airstrikes on Aleppo Resume as Russia Begins New Offensive in Syria’, New York Times, 16 November, online: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/world/middleeast/syria-aleppo-russia-airstrikes.html
BBC (2016) ‘Aleppo siege: UN envoy Mistura ‘appalled’ by rebel attacks’, 30 October, online: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37816938
Pestano, Andrew (2016) ‘Aleppo airstrikes resume after 3-week pause’, UPI, 15 November, online: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/11/15/Aleppo-airstrikes-resume-after-3-week-pause/8561479211543/
Pasha-Robinson, Lucy (2016) ‘Buses used to evacuate Syrians from villages ‘attacked and burned’’, 19 December, online: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-crisis-aleppo-what-is-happening-villages-buses-attacked-and-burned-a7482736.html
Reuters (2016) ‘Syria foreign minister says no to east Aleppo autonomous zone’, 20 November, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-aleppo-idUSKBN13F0J1
RT (2016) ‘Russian, Syrian Air Forces did not strike UN aid convoy in Aleppo – Russian MoD’, 20 September, online: https://www.rt.com/news/359990-russia-denies-aleppo-strike/
Sanchez, Raf (2016) ‘UN says armed Syrian groups blocking Aleppo aid for ‘political gain’, UK telegraph, 14 September, online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/14/un-says-armed-syrian-groups-blocking-aid-to-aleppo-for-political/
SOTT (2016) ‘Keeping their word: No Russian or Syrian airstrikes on Aleppo for 7 days, humanitarian corridors open’, SOTT News, 25 October, online: https://www.sott.net/article/332069-Keeping-their-word-No-Russian-or-Syrian-airstrikes-on-Aleppo-for-7-days-humanitarian-corridors-open
UNGA (2017) ‘Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’, 34th session, A/HRC/34/64, 2 February, online: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/026/63/PDF/G1702663.pdf?OpenElement
The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Prof. Tim Anderson
, Global Research, 2017