Two smaller cities in the northern “rebel”-controlled Idleb governate, Al Foa and Kafriya, have been under “rebel” siege for over two years. Local government aligned forces are defending them. The civilian inhabitants are of Shia believe and seen by the sectarian Sunni “rebels” as unbelievers only worthy of death. The cities are supplied by airdrops from government helicopters.
Meanwhile two “rebel” controlled cities near Damascus, Zabadani and Madaya, in the south are held under siege by government forces. They are sparsely supplied by UN and Red Cross convoys. Over the years a tit-for-tat of revenge acts bound the fate of the four cities. In total some 20-30,000 people are effected. A wide ranging agreement was needed to solve the unsustainable situation.
In December an agreement had allowed for the exchange of wounded civilians. When buses were on their way to evacuated elderly and wounded from the two northern cities they were torched by some rebel group. New buses had to be send but in the end the exchange worked out.
Last week a new agreement had been reached about a complete population exchange of the cities. All inhabitants of the northern cities were to be brought to government held areas. All inhabitants of the southern cities to the “rebel” held areas. Iran, speaking for the Syrian government, and Qatar, a financer of the radical “rebels”, negotiated the deal. There are many other issues involved in the deal including Qatari hostages held by Shia groups in Iraq, very large payment from Qatar to “rebel” groups (al-Qaeda) and some non-disclosed items.
“Rebel” groups in Idelb government are either aligned with al-Qaeda in Syria or with the Qatari sponsored Ahrar al Sham. Ahrar al-Sahm is the group responsible for the execution of the negotiated population exchange. Parts of al-Qaeda have publicly disagreed with the deal.
Yesterday some 5,000 inhabitants of the northern cities, mainly women and children, were brought by bus convoy to the government held city of Aleppo but were stopped while still in the “rebel” controlled area. Inhabitants from the southern city had been brought up to Aleppo and were kept under government guard. Some additional negotiations about a minor issue were going on.
The civilians in their buses, mostly elderly, women and children, were guarded by “rebels” of Ahrar al Sham. They were hungry. Someone appeared on the scene and distributed crisps. When children flocked around the food distribution a blue car drove up and a very large explosion occurred. Four buses full of people and a number of cars were totally destroyed (Pics: 1, 2, 3)
127 of the civilians, only a mile or two from the safe government area, were killed in the suicide attack including 95 children. Many more were wounded. An unknown number of Ahrar al Sham “rebel” guards were also killed. There is no serious disagreement about what happened.
It is obvious that the suicide attack was committed by al-Qaeda in Syria. No government aligned element could have crossed into rebel held territory. The government aligned forces have not committed any suicide attacks while al-Qaeda as well as Ahrar al Sham have committed hundreds. This was a “rebel” suicide attack, likely by al-Qaeda, against government aligned civilian refugees.
But the BBC, CNN and other western media will not tell you that. CNN called the massacre “a hiccup”. The first Washington report was illustrated with a pastoral scene of “Shias” walking in a green field. The write-ups disguise to the average reader on which side that vast numbers of casualties of the incident were. They will not say who the likely culprits are. Some insinuate, against all logic, that the government did it.
The most recent BBC report on the massacre is one of the worst of this propaganda genre. Assume for a moment you have not read the above, only the following:
At least 68 children were among 126 people killed in Saturday’s bomb attack on buses carrying evacuees from besieged Syrian towns, activists say.
A vehicle filled with explosives hit the convoy near Aleppo.
80% of the readers will only read the headline and maybe the first graphs. Who will they assume killed whom?
Those who actually read further will learn that some of the victims were Shia and that “evacuees from government-held towns were killed, along with aid workers and rebel soldiers.” (Since when are Ahrar’s marauding beheaders “soldiers”? Was this dude also a “soldier”?) The BBC story goes on to insinuates that the government did this because “rebels” could and would not do such:
It happened when a vehicle loaded with food arrived and started distributing crisps, attracting many children, before exploding, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Lina Sinjab said.
She said it was not clear how the vehicle could have reached the area without government permission.
But there is also no evidence that rebels were involved in the attack, as the government claims.
It would not be in the rebels’ interest, our correspondent says, as they were waiting for their own supporters to be evacuated from the other towns.
I have read a lot of anti-Syrian propaganda but never such a vile smear. “It was not clear how the vehicle could have reached the area without [Syrian] government permission.” Well – a vehicle from that area could drive right up to the BBC’s head-office in London, explode and kill many people without “Syrian government permission.” (Maybe one should – just for demonstration purpose.)
It is “rebel” held territory with open borders to Turkey from where they are supplied. Any of the “rebel” groups that committed suicide attacks over the last years has free access to it. The BBC correspondent and her editors know this well. They also know that “rebels” are not united at all and that their interests diverge. It is completely clear who committed this massacre. But the BBC insinuates “the government did it.”
More people died in this attack than in the Khan Sheikhun chemical incident which killed some people in a rebel held area. The incident was likely a false flag attack staged by the “rebels” without involvement of the government side. A Trump NSC report falsely claimed evidence that the Syrian government was the guilty party in that incident and the U.S. then bombed one of the Syrian airports.
95 children were burned and smashed to death in yesterday’s suicide attack. They will not be honored as “beautiful children”, as Trump called two blond babies in a Khan Sheikhun photo. The babies killed yesterday were “pro-regime” evacuees (CNN speak) who do not deserve such honor.
The victims of yesterday’s massacre will get much less media coverage than the few actually documented victims of the Khan Sheikhun incident. That bit they will get will abuse the dead, as BBC does, to incite against the vast majority of the Syrian people who are with their government.
Damascus decided that the deal and the evacuation should continue despite the massacre. The two cities in Idleb are too exposed and indefensible against a large scale attack. No bigger government operation towards Idleb can take place while they are held hostage.
UPDATE – April 17, 3:00am
Eliah J. Magnier reports (Arabic) further details of the “4 cities” exchange deal.
He tweeted the main steps:
Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
The”four cities deal”includes Qatari hostages, money, prisoners of war, prisoners and corps
The 1st step (evacuating civilians under the age of 15) was concluded.
The 2d step will evacuate all militants
The 3d step will include the exchange of prisoners held by Damascus, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda corps and prisoners
The 4th step will incl the release of Qatari hostages held in Iraq (not yet released) & the payment of ransom to AQ.