By Brandon Turbeville
Over the past few days, the Western corporate press has kicked into overdrive with reports of hospital bombings, dead civilians, and war crimes all blamed predictably on the secular government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia. According to Western governments and their media mouthpieces, Assad’s forces and the Russian Air Force have targeted civilian in order to . . . well . . . no one knows why they would logically target civilians or civilian hospitals. Still, the Western harpies – both media and “human rights NGOs” – continue to hammer the unsubstantiated claims and misinformation at the tops of their lungs that the SAA is dropping bombs on civilian medical facilities, civilian homes, “barrel bombing” innocent people, and all around being responsible for every single death in the Syrian war.
Particularly with the campaign to liberate East Aleppo, the Western media has gone into overdrive accusing Assad and Putin of every crime imaginable in order to gin up support for more aggressive and drastic tactics by the U.S. government to protect “civilians” (which really means terrorists) in the embattled part of the city. Never mind that America’s rebels have been shelling civilians for days in both Aleppo and Damascus. According to the U.S. State Department, only Assad kills people and all the people he kills are civilians.
But such a narrative provides us with a Tale of Two Cities indeed. For in Mosul, an attempt to liberate the city is welcomed and no amount of “collateral damage” seems to matter.
The liberation of Mosul is an important and necessary battle but, unfortunately, like most battles, it will be one that results in the deaths of untold numbers of innocent people. Still, because the United States wants to maintain its rotting ties to the Iraqi government and the dependence which the latter still has upon the former as well as the fact that the U.S. wants to engage in “death squad herding,” pushing the terrorists into Syria, civilian casualties are acceptable. But, while the U.S. government and Western corporate media justify the battle for Mosul, they do nothing but howl and scream over the “humanitarian disaster” in East Aleppo, the area held by terrorists supported by the West itself, and decry any attempt to liberate the city.
One need only look at the reports and the glaringly different context and style presented by the very same media outlet in order to see how both cities are being represented in the corporate press. For instance, on October 17, the Guardian posted an article titled, “Mosul Offensive: Forces Launch Mass Attack On Iraqi City In Bid To Oust ISIS,” where it merely reported the “facts” about the new offensive. While it admitted that there may be mass casualties, it was characteristic of all reports surrounding U.S. or NATO war operations, i.e. it presented them as being unavoidable. The article reads,
A long-awaited offensive to seize back Mosul after two years of Isis control has begun with columns of armour and military starting to move on the northern Iraqi city.Virtually the only mention of impending civilian casualties comes when the article merely addresses the possibility and quickly puts the blame solely on ISIS, suggesting also that civilians could have left and those who didn’t have made their choices. The latter half of this statement, of course, is merely inferred but it is noteworthy to point out that, in Aleppo, the blame is not placed on the terrorists holding out in the eastern part of the city, but on the Syrian military attempting to dislodge them. Nevertheless, the article reads,
The start of the offensive, which has been months in the planning, was announced in an address on state television by Iraq’s prime minister in the early hours of Monday morning.
. . . . .
After a month-long buildup, the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq has for several days been almost completely surrounded by a 30,000-strong force.
On Monday morning just before dawn, columns of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters could be seen lined up for the offensive to the north-east of the city. The forces had taken control of seven villages and the main road linking Mosul with the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, by 10am BST, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported. Soldiers had earlier stood by bonfires singing battle hymns while in the distance the sound of airstrikes reverberated along with a regularly artillery barrage.
South of the city, Iraqi forces, which had driven hundreds of miles for what Baghdad has hailed as a last battle against the terrorist group, moved into their final positions on Friday.
Also on the ground are US, British and French special forces, which have been advising the peshmerga and will play a prominent role in calling in airstrikes against Isis targets inside the city.
Skirmishes have flared outside Iraqi’s second largest city over the last few days with an airstrike on one of its main bridges on Sunday. It is not clear who was responsible for the strike on the al-Hurriya bridge but Amaq, the news agency associated with Isis, blamed US forces. It is thought that the destruction of the bridge could hinder Isis fighters trying to flee the city.
Early on Monday, a dense, noxious haze hung over the mountains and the plains leading to Mosul – a haze caused by oil fires lit by Isis in anticipation of the attack.
Pehmerga forces are aiming to take three villages and advance up to 12km on the first day of the offensive but insist they will not enter Mosul itself. Isis is believed to have heavily mined the roads leading into its territory with large numbers of improvised devices and the Iraqi government has previously warned Mosul resident to stay in their homes.
Ahead of Abadi’s televised statement, thousands of four-page leaflets were dropped across the city telling civilians to avoid certain parts of the city and declaring it was “victory time”.
The fight is expected to last weeks, if not months, and if the battles to wrest Falluja and Ramadi from the grip of Isis are any indication, Mosul is predicted to be a protracted and difficult affair.
The assault on the city is the most critical challenge yet to Isis’s two-year-old caliphate, which has shredded state authority in the region’s heartland, caused a mass exodus of refugees, attempted a genocide of minorities and led to grave doubts over the future of the country.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that the battle for the city could result in a humanitarian crisis with up to a million refugees fleeing.Contrast this article with an article posted by the same outlet on September 26, entitled “’Hell Itself’ Aleppo Reels From Alleged Use Of Bunker-Buster Bombs,” where the assault is presented as a bloodthirsty march to kill as many civilians as possible. It reads,
Militants have banned civilians from leaving the city, set up checkpoints on outwards roads and blown up the homes of those who fled.
While leaving can mean trekking through minefields and the risk of discovery and punishment by Isis, those who stay know they face airstrikes, street battles, a potential siege by the Iraqi security forces and the grim possibility of being used as human shields by Isis.
Airstrikes have tormented the people of Aleppo’s eastern districts for five consecutive days, claiming hundreds of lives and wounding many more, with a ferocity that local people say is unrivalled since the beginning of the revolution turned civil war more than five years ago.These two reports demonstrate quite a different presentation of what is essentially – at least in terms of military strategy and physical results – the same thing. So why is one assault a liberating cause of celebration and another assault a horrific bloodbath aimed tormenting civilians for torment’s sake? The reason is simple: because the first assault is being conducted by the U.S./NATO forces and the second is being conducted by Syria/Russia. The first assault is being conducted as a method of “death squad herding” and the other is ultimately designed to defeat and destroy the death squads, a fate that Washington, London, and Paris find very unpalatable to say the least. Indeed, as the terrorists die in Syria so do the plans of the U.S., NATO, GCC, and Israel.
The city, once Syria’s bustling commercial capital, is divided into east and west, held by rebels and the government of Bashar al-Assad respectively. The eastern part has been besieged for three months.
The latest campaign comes after the collapse of a brief ceasefire negotiated by Moscow and Washington, and Assad’s government has vowed to reclaim the whole city, apparently no matter the cost.
Eastern Aleppo has endured years of destruction, the ruins of districts having been repeatedly bombarded with barrel bombs, and more lately phosphorus and incendiary munitions, which have left them in flames.
The images of the past week have been unrelentingly horrifying. In one, civil defence workers find a mother holding her infant under the rubble, dead and covered in white dust. In another, five bodies from the same family in a rebel-held town just outside Aleppo lie in white shrouds, the child’s burial cloth conspicuously smaller.
There is a new awe and horror in residents’ voices as they describe the impact of the bunker busters. “We are standing before inhumanity, real massacres, extraordinary weapons whose blasts we never heard before. They make the ground shake beneath our feet,” said Mohammad Abu Rajab, a doctor in one of the largest medical centres in eastern Aleppo.
At a UN security council meeting on Sunday, the UK and US condemned the use of bunker busters. Samantha Power, the US envoy, condemned the barbarity with which she said Russia was prosecuting the war on behalf of Assad.
“Bunker-busting bombs, more suited to destroying military installations, are now destroying homes, decimating bomb shelters, crippling, maiming, killing dozens, if not hundreds,” said Matthew Rycroft, the UK ambassador to the UN.
Residents of eastern Aleppo have often come up with new solutions to survive the onslaughts on their neighbourhoods. Moving below ground had, until now, been one means of protection.
“I’ve been in Aleppo for five years and I’ve seen a lot of bombing, but the destruction of these bombs, I have never seen before,” said Omar Arab, a journalist who lives in the Mashhad neighbourhood and witnessed the destruction there and in the neighbourhood of Sukkari, where the opposition says a bunker buster bomb was used.
Even the dreaded barrel bomb, a cylinder packed with explosives that is pushed out of planes and helicopters and is woefully inaccurate, does not inspire as much fear.
. . . . .
For those who continue to brave the assault on eastern Aleppo, it is clear the scorched-earth campaign, including the alleged use bunker busters, has the sole purpose of frightening residents into submission.
Regardless, we have reached the point warned about in 1984 so many years ago. The media provides a story and a narrative to go along with it which is then eaten up by the general public. The very next day, or even within a matter of hours, a contrasting narrative and story that is obviously the opposite of the original story is fed to the public yet no one is the wiser. It is as if the latter story was always the truth. When that truth changes yet again, no one notices. In the morning, an assault on a major city in the Middle East is a milestone of liberation. In the evening, it is the epitome of genocide and brutality. On Monday, al-Qaeda is the enemy. On Tuesday, it is our friend.
This Orwellian narrative shift creates, as a side effect, a schizophrenic population, which is, at the same time, both paranoid and trusting, volatile and docile, tribal but isolated. The wiring of the nation’s people is short-circuited and the culture has devolved to a level that only drastic measures would ever be able to repair.
As George Orwell, the man who coined the popular label of “doublethink” to be applied to cognitive dissonance, once said about the mainstream media of his day: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” If it is not clear by now that America’s media is nothing more than a PR firm for the military industrial complex, intelligence agencies, and the national elite, a change of viewing habits is certainly in order.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 850 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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