There are apparently no ‘red lines’ when it comes to the documented terrorism of death squads in Syria, be they the Free Syrian Army (FSA, who committed some of the most heinous massacres of Syrian civilians in 2011, in 2012, in 2013…), Nour al-Din al-Zenki child-beheaders, or Jaysh al-Islam (with their love of caging civilians to use as human shields and firing mortars on civilian areas of Damascus and outskirts).
On the afternoon of April 15, terrorist factions attacked buses carrying civilians from the long-besieged western Syria villages of Kafraya and Foua. Thus far, the death toll is reported to be at least 100, with some estimating a much higher number. Earlier Sputnik reported:
“The number of victims [in the explosion] is at least 70; over 130 are injured. It is difficult to say as there are many burnt bodies and body parts around the damaged buses,” noting that “hit the Rashidin area on Aleppo’s outskirts. The bus was waiting for entering the city of Aleppo.”
“The blast supposedly was caused by a suicide attacker who detonated an explosive device. The car with the attacker approached the buses disguised as a vehicle transporting food.”
“A witness to the massacre told a Syrian journalist (shared by journalist Maytham al-Ashkar):
“”The ‘rebels’ brought a bus full of crisps. They tried to gather as many kids as possible around the vehicle. Then we heard a really loud explosion. A lot of children were killed, many were injured.”
“Our Blood is Cheap”: Why Foua and Kafraya Don’t Merit Fair Media Coverage
A journalist with U-News who sent photos and videos of the massacre of civilians asked the anguished rhetorical question one asks in such repeated situations: “Where are the mainstream media? Why don’t they report the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack on Foua and Kafraya?”
The answer is that the genuine torment these civilians have endured for years will never be fairly reported, it does not serve the agenda of demonizing the leader of Syria and the national army in order to win western public opinion for yet another ‘humanitarian’ intervention which destroys the Syrian nation and installs chaos in the place of the legitimate government.
None of the people terrorized by these mercenaries of the NATO/Zionist/Gulf/Turkish alliance over the years will be respected or recognized by the Western press, be they women and children victims of rocket attacks, sniping and mortar terrorism in and around Damascus; Syrian and allied journalists assassinated by the ‘moderates’; civilians of Aleppo for years bombed, sniped at and besieged by terrorist factions; or especially liberated civilians from eastern areas of Aleppo whose horrific testimonies directly negate the myth of ‘rebels’, ‘moderates’, or the falsity of Assad as the problem and the Syrian Arab Army as the ‘aggressor’.
As with civilian victims of suicide bombs in Beirut and Homs, Jableh and Tartous, (which I visited in July 2016) the civilians of Foua and Kafraya are rendered by the Western corporate media as either invisible or a sect not worthy of human consideration. Ironically, while Foua and Kafraya may contain a predominate number of Shia Muslims, residents of the villages have told me how they intermarried with their neighbouring Sunni Syrians, and shared the celebrations of other faiths’, as is common in secular Syria.
In August 2015, I began to write about the villages, gaining awareness of their very serious plight via a friend from Foua and journalists and civilians I came to know from both villages.
“The villages, less than 10 km northeast of Idlib, had already been suffering an over 4 year long siege by US-backed al-Nusra and affiliates.
“Until late March, residents—although surrounded by militant factions—still had an access road, thus supplies for their survival. With the militants’ occupation of Idlib at the end of March, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had to withdraw forces from bases in the province. Foua and Kafarya became utterly isolated.”
The fact that the people in these villages are fully besieged and near-daily bombed and deprived of critical medicines and essential life needs has been met with the utter silence and disregard of not only the corporate media but also the human rights bodies purporting to care about Syrian civilians.
In January 2016, when the Western media began talking about the village of Madaya (one of the villages from where ‘rebels’ were recently safely evacuated with the full aid and protection of the Syrian government), they pointedly ignored the dire situation of residents of Foua and Kafraya because both of those villages were under siege by al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Fattah (the so-called “Army of Conquest”) and Ahrar al-Sham (Liberation of the Levant Movement) along with other “moderates” of the umbrella organization Jabhat al-Islamiyah (the Islamic Front).
While the Syrian government was accused of mass starvation in Madaya, this was exposed as false in December 2016, when the terrorist factions were exposed as the real culprits, hoarding food (and medicines) and holding civilians hostage. This also occurred in the Old City of Homs, which I visited repeatedly, including one month after the Syrian government enabled safe evacuation of the terrorists who had been occupying the Old City and starving the remaining civilians within.
Parts one and two of my initial reports on the villages of Foua and Kafraya outline the full, debilitating siege that the approximately 20,000 civilians have endured since March 2015 (although the villages were on-off besieged since 2013) and the deliberately sectarian slant of Western media reports in their scant reporting of the situation there. In contrast, as my Kafraya friend told me:
“In that area of Syria there are minorities living together, from about 1,000 years ago. In Kafraya and Foua there are Shia. Before this war, the people of Foua and neighbouring Binnish were very close, they intermarried, celebrated festivals together.
At the time that this all started in Syria, I was home, still a student. We studied at a school in Ma’rat Mesreen, which was a mostly Sunni city—many of them pro-government, by the way—and some Shia. Like with Binnish, our people were friends with those in Ma’rat Mesreen, intermarried with them.
My uncle was working in al-Raqqa, but when the militants took over, he and others went back to Kafraya. The original population of Kafraya was around 10,000. Now, it’s much much more, with IDPs from various areas, like Ma’rat Mesreen, and including many Sunni pro-government Syrians from other villages, but also Shia from surrounding areas.”
Syrian journalist Iyad Khuder told me of the traditional unity of the villages and surrounding area.
“People from these two villages have always had good relations with their neighbors—they used to share the Islamic feasts together. No one used to ask about religion, or even to mention the words ‘Sunni, Shia’. But the extremist minority who controlled northern Syria are indoctrinated by Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi ideology. So, they asked Kafraya and Foua (as a test) to join the ‘revolution’ against the ‘regime’. The people replied, ‘You are free to revolt, it’s your choice. But we also have our choice and we believe it’s a plot targeting the whole country.’ So, the ‘rebels’ consider them targets, have tried to conquer their villages, and have kidnapped many of them.”
Completely surrounded by terrorist factions that have been regularly attacking the villages with mortars, Hell Cannon-fired gas canister bombs and snipings of the sort that left 4 and 6 year old boys (deprived of medical care by the terrorists’ siege) on death’s doorstep, the siege has meant civilians with critical, but treatable, illnesses are not able to get appropriate medical care, with families deprived of sustenance, clean water, heating in winter and the essential needs of life.
MSM Reporting on Terrorists Murder of Civilians: ‘Bus Bombing’
The Western corporate media’s reporting on massacres like the recent suicide bombings of several buses full of civilians in Syria deserves some scathing critique. Consider these lines from an article by Lizzie Dearden for the UK Independent:
“A car bomb has hit a convoy of buses carrying civilians evacuated from besieged towns in Syria, killing at least 24 people.
The blast hit the Rashidin area on the outskirts of Aleppo, where dozens of buses carrying mostly Shia Muslim families from pro-government villages were waiting to enter the city.
Photos that were too graphic to publish showed a huge fire raging next to bodies scattered on the ground next to charred buses with blown-out windows, including those of children.”
If the area in question were a terrorist-occupied area, Dearden’s report would read something like this:
“A regime-dropped barrel bomb has killed a convoy of buses carrying innocent civilians, mostly women and children, who were being evacuated from rebel areas of Syria. The deadly 8.0 magntitude Hiroshima barrel bomb hit Sunni Muslim families from freedom-loving rebel areas…” etc. etc.
Do note in the reporting of ‘journalists’ like Dearden and other presstitutes, the downplaying of actual documented Syrian civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists dubbed ‘rebels’. Do note the sectarian language (rejected by most Syrians). Do note the implication that acts of terrorism on Syrians in government secured areas of the country must be considered as not credible (but physics-defying alleged school-bombings or alleged chemical weapons attacks should be believed). Also note the kind of reporting on this attack that was produced by CNN. While stating that “no group has claimed responsibility”, CNN felt the need to get a word from that paragon of immorality, Abdul Rahman of the utterly discredited ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’:
“During a televised interview, Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said a suicide bomber claimed he was carrying food items and blew himself up in a fuel station. Abdul Rahman said he doesn’t believe the Syrian regime is behind the attack. He said the regime kills scores of people daily using all types of weaponry and doesn’t need to kill its own sympathizers.”
Yes indeed, just in case you were distracted by the US-backed terrorist bombing of buses full of civilians, CNN used the pathetic quisling Rahman to remind you of the ‘evils of the regime’ and to admit that, despite the ‘evil’ of Assad, he has not yet found a need to kill his own sympathiziers.
Regarding the “photos that were too graphic to publish” by the Independent; please explain to the families of these mutilated Syrians why their graphic murders were too distasteful to Western sensitivities when graphic images of dead and injured children are splashed across Western media broadsheets when the alleged author of such attacks is the Syrian or Russian military.
Britain’s state-owned BBC, no stranger to the propagation war porn when it serves the NATO agenda, headlined rather blandly: “Syria war: Huge bomb kills dozens of evacuees in Syria“.
Had the bombing in question been attributed to the Syrian army, or Russians, you can bet the headline would have read something like:
“Murderous Regime Bombs Innocent Civilians in Rebel-held Area Just Days After Worst Chemical Attack in the History of the World”.
Of course, I do not believe for a moment that the allegations of the western-propagated Idlib chemical incident are true, but this is the sort of headline the Western corporate media runs, irrespective of actual evidence, of which they have none as regards the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.
Please recall that just days after the US-led coalition murdered anywhere between 60 and 80 Syrian soldiers in Deir ez-Zor, Western governments, their jihadi proxies and the Western press deflected attention by attacking a UN humanitarian convoy and blaming Syria and/or Russia.
A BBC report on the bus bombing states:
“A huge car bomb has blasted a convoy of coaches carrying evacuees from besieged government-held towns in Syria, killing at least 39 people.”
The actual names of the towns Foua and Kafraya aren’t mentioned until paragraph 5, after the BBC had ominously warned of “revenge attacks on a convoy of evacuees from rebel-held towns, being moved under a deal,” implying the big bag Syrian ‘regime’ cannot be trusted.
Despite the BBC’s deliberate anti-Syrian propaganda here, compare how the Syria government and the so-called ‘opposition’ have behaved so far in similar exchange deals.
– December 2016: Civilians and terrorists, including al-Qaeda in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra…and their re-branded incarnation Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham ) were bused safely (from the eastern areas they terrorized) to Idlib. Sick and wounded residents of Foua and Kafraya were meant to be bused out in exchange but terrorists attacked and burned five or six buses, pledging to ” burn anyone who comes to transport them”.
“4 months ago “rebels” burned evacuation buses meant for Foua/Kafraya and can be heard saying “We will burn anyone who comes to transport them”
– April 2017: Syrian media, SANA, reported on April 14: “60 buses transport more than 2300 gunmen and some of their families from al-Zabadani and Madaya. The link on SANA’s website contains a video showing numerous moving buses, the Syrian Red Crescent, and civilians presumably families of militants also present in the video.
In August 2016, Vanessa Beeley and I met with a number of Foua/Kafraya residents who had been evacuated in a then rather-rare evacuation, December 2015. The horrors they spoke of will never be fairly reported in corporate media.
Eva Bartlett is an independent writer and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip, where she lived a cumulative three years (from late 2008 to early 2013),accompanying Palestinian fishers and farmers as they came under intensive fire from the Israeli army. She documented the 2008/9 and 2012 Israeli war crimes and attacks on Gaza while riding in ambulances and reporting from hospitals. From June-August 2016, she visited Syria for her fifth time. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza