If you can still bear following Iranian and Russian ‘news’ on Syria, you may have seen this Russia Today video report, which was widely re-broadcast by Iranian media close to the government, about Syrians returning to their destroyed homes in Aleppo.
The report focuses on some 14,000 residents of a village just outside Aleppo, who it claims had fled “after the rebels attacked” the area but have now returned “after the regime forces regained control.” The implication is that the residents now feel safe. It then claims that the residents came back to find their houses “either destroyed or looted,” without telling us who did that, but implying that it was the rebels.
Anyone who has been following Syria’s (real) news would know that the regime’s military campaign in Aleppo, in which ‘barrel bombs’ have been regularly used for the last two months, is probably one of the most brutal and indiscriminate in the history of wars. Many of these houses have been destroyed by the regime shells and barrel bombs.
The report then shows humanitarian aid arriving in the village, and the reporter describes the villagers as “in desperate need of simply everything,” again without telling us the reason. Those who know would know that one of the reasons is the regime forces’ cutting off roads and supplies to anti-regime areas, not to mention the months-long sieges on various towns and cities in Syria that have so far led to tens of people literally dying of starvation and malnutrition. Other measures of collective punishment have included regime forces’ burning wide areas of agricultural land and food storage places in the areas that defied the regime’s rule, including many towns and villages around Aleppo.
Only two days ago the Syrian opposition was negotiating with the regime’s delegation at the Geneva II conference about easing the siege on Homs and allowing humanitarian aid into the dying city. The regime has agreed to let the woman and children out but not lift the siege. (Stop for a second and think about it: a government is negotiating with people it accuses of being ‘foreign terrorists’, who are demanding that this benevolent government allows aid into besieged areas in order to save the government’s own people from starvation and death. What sort of government is that?)
Back to Russia Today, the report never mentions the name of the village, and the commentary and subtitles give listeners the impression that the talk is about the whole city of Aleppo, which the report describes as “still vibrant and actually safe.” It does mention that, in the eastern parts of the city, fighting continues between “moderate rebel factions” and “radical -Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups,” while “government forces are trying to fight them both.”
Anyone who knows anything about what is happening in Syria would know that big parts of Aleppo have been completely destroyed by the regime’s ongoing bombardment. One of the main reasons why the moderate opposition forces have now declared war on the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, not groups, namely the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS), is that the latter was seen by most Syrians as supporting the regime’s interests rather than the revolution’s.
ISIS never really fought the regime forces; it only went into areas liberated by other armed factions and imposed its repressive rule. There is even anecdotal evidence that, more than once, regime military planes or tanks would fly over or drive past ISIS units and not fire at them, only to go and fire at other opposition armed forces.
So don’t believe everything you hear, especially when it is pure pro-regime propaganda like this, coming from Russian and Iranian state-controlled media.