Pathology of a Fake News Story
Leon Derczynski
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That was a trivial example.

The entire story of Syria has been manufactured and is mostly fake. I called this out in 2012: Syria — The First Casualty. Corporate news sources about Syria are all uncorroborated “activists,” the real journalistic malfeasance. The counter-narrative is omitted, and the Syrian government and Russian government claims never published at all. That is a complete violation of journalistic ethics.

Here is the story of the Houla massacre:

The Incident at Houla, Syria

Numerous civilians were killed on May 25, 2012 in Al-Houla, Syria. Immediately, the Assad regime was blamed (as always) by the opposition public relations sources, those so-called “activists.” The Syrian government’s artillery fire was noted by the United Nations. The world’s press picked up on this opposition “activist” story, and soon the Syrian ambassadors were booted out of the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Exactly like a rehearsed and coordinated bit of political theater.

Corporate news continues to blame the Assad government for the Houla killings with the caveat usually included somewhere in the propaganda article that the claims are unverified and that investigations haven’t concluded.

Then a Russian news team investigated exactly who was killed, how and why. This investigation was followed by a German investigation by FAZ, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, and both reports come to a very different conclusion than that of the “activists.” While the murders of women and children were brutal, barbaric and disgusting, it is the perpetrators that matter here. The civilians were not killed by artillery shells, but by small arms fire and/or knives. They were not killed because of their opposition to the regime, but were families known for supporting Assad. Several were Shiite living in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood. The investigations reveal much.

“Note that once, the exactly same provocation failed at Shumar (Homs) and 49 militants and women and children were killed, when it was organized just before a visit of Kofi Annan. The last provocation was immediately exposed as soon as it became known that the bodies of the previously kidnapped belonged to Alawites. This provocation also contained serious inconsistencies — the names of those killed were from people loyal to the authorities, there were no traces of bombings, etc.” (Center for Research on Globalisation (translation), THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government”, Marat Musin, 6/1/2012)

Essentially, a small hamlet in Syria was invaded by “up to 700” insurgent fighters. They attacked three government check posts in a lengthy battle, where the army returned artillery fire. A contingent of these terrorists then went house to house seeking out political opponents and massacred the entire families of those who were still loyal to the government or who had converted from Sunni to Shiite Islam.

“When the rebels seized the lower checkpoint in the center of town… they began to sweep all the families loyal to the authorities in neighboring houses, including the elderly, women and children. Several families of the Al-Sayed were killed, including 20 young children and the family of the Abdul Razak. Many of those killed were ‘guilty’ of the fact that they dared to change from Sunnis to Shiites.”

They collected bodies and claimed that the victims were killed by army shelling, which was obviously not consistent with forensic analysis, nor with reality.

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) confirmed this Russian account of the Houla atrocities on June 7th. The murdered families are named and described in more detail.

“Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Abermals Massaker in Syrien, 6/7/2012; Translation)

Previously German newspaper Der Spiegel published an interview with the Syrian rebels’ executioner and his death squad named the “burial brigade.”

“According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.” (Der Spiegel, An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story, 3/29/2012)

The bulk of these “traitors” are likely Syrian civilians who remained loyal to the government. Their deaths prompt no international outrage or crocodile tears, however.

After the artillery fire murder story of May 25th was found completely meritless, the claim regarding Houla shifted so that a pro-Assad militia called “Shabiha” must be the perpetrator. This claim then went around the world without any evidence to support it, whatsoever. It remains the quasi-official narrative, despite the identities and affiliations of the victims now divulged by Russian and German news media. The murdered families were pro-government and a parliamentarian who was considered a traitor by the Sunnis, quite inconsistent with murder by a pro-government militia, yet very much consistent with a self-admitted rebel “burial brigade.”

Of course CNN asks “analysts” about the situation and we find that:

“Many [Shabiha] have shaved heads and sport thick black beards. The beards are a confusing touch, Weiss said, because they ‘want to look like Salafists’ so people will think they are the fundamentalist Sunnis they dislike and blame for violence.” (CNN, Regime-backed militia does Syria’s ‘dirty work,’ analysts say, 6/7/2012)

So, when Salafist Jihadis actually do what they openly admit to doing, it can conveniently be blamed on Assad’s alleged militia? This story has been through the looking glass for so long, there is little chance that an honest assessment can be found anywhere in the western media.