Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

The following scene was captured on film by Syrian TV journalist Jaafar Younis, as he boarded one of the buses full of militants and family members bound for the northern province of , given safe passage by the Syrian government from recently liberated . During this incredible exchange, Younis engaged some of the armed militants as they confirmed that aid and food was indeed hoarded by the leaders of the US Coalition and Gulf state-backed terrorist proxies. Amazingly, they were not aware that ‘reconciliation’ was an option for them.

While most journalists are normally meant to simply report news and document events, Younis realized there was a unique opportunity here, a chance to at least try to build a bridge of understanding between two seemingly opposing sides of the conflict’s polar dialectic. By acknowledging that the ‘opposition’ were still fellow Syrians, Younis was able to do something extraordinary: he managed to cut through the tension just enough to communicate the truth of the situation to this group of beleaguered and confused Ghouta residents preparing to self-exile themselves in Idlib. It’s obvious from their facial reactions and body language that they were in fact deceived by their own militant leaders – made to live in an environment of engineered scarcity of essential food and aid supplies, and in fear of ‘the regime’. Based on this account and others we have seen, it seems likely that many of these remaining residents of Ghouta were victims of brainwashing – completely unaware that they could have simply laid down their arms and submit to the Syrian government’s well-established and surprisingly successful reconciliation program. Hence, many of the remaining Ghouta residents and lower level militants appeared completely detached from what is actually going on only a few miles away in other liberated areas of greater Damascus. One of the main factors which has held this atmosphere of disinformation in place has been the sustained barrage of propaganda emanating from erroneous sources like the numerous Saudi and Gulf satellite TV channels and extremist propaganda outlets networks like Orient News, and bolstered by their western counterparts CNN and others, as well as propaganda produced by the UK-funded White Helmets (who actually fled Ghouta to Idlib alongside terrorists, as the CNN and BBC video market dissolved).

More crucial though, Younis also topples one of the key pillars of the western mainstream narrative on Syria by pointing out the obvious truth to this confused group of militants, which is that no government on the planet will accept an opposition who takes up arms against it, and to systematically target civilians at random – as NATO state and Gulf-backed ‘rebel’ terrorists have done throughout the conflict in both Aleppo and Damascus. Organised, foreign-backed terrorism does not constitute a legitimate political aspiration and yet, for the last 7 years the BBC, CNN, NBC, Channel 4, The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabya – have worked overtime to convince viewers and readers that the opposite is true. The lesson here: the brainwashing wasn’t only confined to the militant enclaves of East Ghouta and East Aleppo – it covered the entire western world.

The scene begins as Younis boards the bus heading north to the idlib province.

Jaafar Younis: Now I am inside the bus, I am now with you on the bus…

(speaking to terrorist opposition militants, their families and supporters)

You have your weapons right?

(then speaking rhetorically to camera) As you can see the bus is moving.

Let’s talk, where are you guys going? Where are you going? It’s OK, I’m asking a question. Tell me, where are you going? Is it possible that none of you know where you are going?

Opposition Militant: We honestly don’t know.

JY: Come on… is it really possible you don’t know where you are going?

OM: Wherever we are going, it’s better than staying here. To Idlib. We are are going to Idlib.

JY: It’s OK, hang on… There are towns that did reconciliations. You heard about that?

As I understood, some of you took up arms. Right or wrong, you carried arms. What group did you belong to? Faylaq? Nusra? To which group did you belong? (no answer)

So you are armed militants but you don’t belong to any group, no? If so, that means you belonged to the category the majority of who did reconciliation and stayed. Believe me, Beit Jin and Barzeh [two previously terrorist-held areas of Damascus], most of the armed  militants reconciled. Some went to Sochi [peace conference] even. Right or wrong? I am sure you saw this on the news or on the internet, yes? Brother you know very well… You are the person who has the freedom to make his own decision, and you are of sound mind. But those who are negotiating on your behalf, aren’t they living a life of comfort? Doesn’t he get all the food and drink he wants?

So I want ask you a question… The [aid] depots… weren’t they all full of food?

OM: [militant nods in agreement]

JY: Who controls it [the depot]? Tell me with honestly. Forget that I am Jafar Younis from Syria TV… with honesty, from citizen to another, from one Syrian to another – who controls these food depots?

OM: No, not us.

JY: Were you guys eating well?

OM: [no answer]

(Meanwhile, a woman steps forward and answers)

Ghouta Woman: We didn’t even taste the food.

JY: So you all didn’t even taste the food. Were the depots full of food or not? Come on, everyone came out and talked about this… I am going to tell you something, and this isn’t just talk. This has been very well-established and you know it. I spoke to many residents [from Ghouta] and they told me there were tonnes of food hoarded. Who controls this food? Them [heads of terrorists groups]?

OM: [militant nods in agreement]

JY: And these are the people who are taking to Idlib?

(another militant from the back of the bus speaks up and answers)

OM: But the regime is the one who besieged us.

JY: My friend, that’s not right. Let me tell you something… name me one country that will accept people talking up arms against its government? In France, they declared Emergency Law – something we never had in Syria, and [in France] people were asking to remove the emergency law. This is emergency law, having checkpoints etc. Did we ever have checkpoints here in Syria before the war? Be honest, were there checkpoints, ever? Did you ever hear anything like that? I myself never heard of anything like that.

OM: But they [the regime] oppressed us…

JY: My friend, there was no oppression. You know very well that it was a conspiracy that came from the outside [Gulf, US, Turkey, Jordan and Israeli-backed], and the people who realized this won. The people of Barzeh won. The people of Qudsiyeh won. In some towns people were being deceived! In most of the towns that had warlords, they used you, they made you fight for them – while they were living comfortably, eating well, and making money. What, didn’t they use their tunnels to bring the food in? While they lived comfortably, using tunnels to bring food in, go back and forth to Damascus…

How long has it been since you’ve seen Damascus?

OM: But the Regime was benefiting…

JY: When was the last time you saw Damascus?

OM: Eight… no, seven years ago.

JY: Brother, no government will accept groups who carry weapons and threaten it. At the end of the day, these weapons are hurting everybody, no? People are also getting martyred on the government side too!

(JY pauses. The militant stops smiling and looks gone, almost in shame)

Today a person who is in central Damascus, and he gets hit by a mortar… so there are victims on both sides, there are casualties on both sides. Our objective is to stop the bloodshed, right or wrong? So to stop the bloodshed, you transfer to Idlib? Tell me, what is your fate in Idlib?

(another militant from the back of the bus speaks up and answers)

OM: If we don’t go to Idlib, we will die here…

JY: So then do a Tashwiyah [a reconciliation]?

OM: What kind of Tashwiyah  are you talking about?

JY: Did you not look into that?

(clearly, at this point JY has stirred up a new conversation in the bus, as residents are now beginning to reconsider the dictates made by their own occupying terrorist generals who convinced fearful residents that there was no reconciliation program and that ‘the regime’ would kill them because they fought in opposition)

JY: Look at Beit Jin.

(a veiled woman moves to the front to argue with JY)

Woman: No, this is all just talk…

JY: Don’t you have people who did that [the reconciliation program] who you can contact and ask about it?

Woman: Yes, we have people, but this is all just talk…

JY: No, not true. I am going to stop filming now, so I can call some people who were in Beit Jin so you can listen to what they have to say [about the successful reconciliation there]…

Watch this video clip here (thank you to Walid for the English subtitles):

What this  scene demonstrates is that while many of the residents in Eastern Ghouta truly believed the fabricated propaganda coming out of western mainstream media outlets and Gulf satellite channels – that the ‘Assad Regime’ or ‘the Russians’ were going to kill all of them if they left through humanitarian corridors, or that ‘Assad’ was ‘butchering his own people’ there, they were only one conversation away from knowing the real story. As it was with East Aleppo in late 2016, now that the terrorist groups have been defeated and removed from the Damascus suburbs, the true picture is emerging. This demonstrates exactly how the sustained Western and Gulf media campaign of misinformation against Syria has not only undermined the peace and reconciliation process, but is also instrumental in prolonging this bloody and superfluous conflict. With that in mind, it’s interesting how western politicians and media outlets will dismiss Syrian TV as “Assad’s propaganda arm” in much the same way they will smear RT as “Putin’s mouthpiece” when the record now shows how both of these media outlets have been consistently accurate in their coverage throughout Syria’s long war – while the western mainstream media has and continues to fabricate reports and obfuscate the continued illegal occupation of Syria by NATO allies the United States and Turkey