With news that Sheikh Miskeen had been fully liberated just a few days ago by the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) 15th Brigade of the 5th Armored Division – in coordination with the SAA’s 7th Armored Division and the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Izra’a, the intense propaganda battle that we have become accustomed to with this war once again began.
Sheikh Miskeen, although not a major city in the sense of Damascus, Homs or Aleppo, is however strategically placed in the south of Syria.
As seen on the map, the liberation of Sheikh Miskeen (Shaykh Miskin), has allowed the SAA and the NDF to secure another major city along its narrow corridor to Dara’a. It has also opened the way for the SAA to try and liberate the important cities of Nawa and Jassim.
The reason this southern portion of Syria is so important is that its liberation will allow for the redeployment of soldiers to other fronts, thus boosting their power in these areas, and it would shut Syria’s two border crossing with Jordan. Jordan has been a major arms and aid benefactor to the terrorists in southern Syria, and sealing the border is imperative to the government’s war effort.
The Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army (SFFSA) have been hailed by the usual suspects like the BBC, Carnegie Middle East Center, Middle East Eye and etc, as the only moderate force remaining in Syria. They mostly operate in Dara’a province in southern Syria.
So strong is the mythology surrounding the SFFSA as a moderate force that it had led Gareth Bayley, the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for Syria, to make the ludicrous claim that Syria’s government and Russia have committed an onslaught ‘on the moderate Opposition.’
Long War Journal beautifully highlights how the the SFFSA rejected any cooperation with the Islamist groups. But this was quickly dismissed by clever investigation by Long Way Journal as it presented evidence of the Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham releasing maps, photos and videos of its participation in the Brigade 52 military base invasion in Da’ara province that the SFFSA took credit for. This demonstrates collaboration between the SFFSA and the Islamists.
Therefore, it is well established that these relations have existed between the supposed ‘last remaining moderate force in Syria’ and the Al-Qaeda affiliates of Al-Nusra and their allies Ahrar ash-Sham. Sheikh Miskeen is no exception to this coalition, and Al-Masdar News has long reported the presence of Islamist groups fighting side by side with the SFFSA in this city.
The irresponsibility of Bayley only serves to misinform the unsuspecting public that once again Russia and the Syrian ‘regime’ are once again targeting Western supported ‘moderate rebels’. However, his statement is dangerous as he is a representative of the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This esteemed position should be free of propagating and serving an agenda, but as clearly shown, the United Kingdom have not quite given up their imperialistic ambitions from centuries past.
However, this misinformation does not end with Bayley, in fact, the propaganda first truly began with Vice’s documentary “The Battle for Syria’s South” which has a collective viewership of 1 million. The description of the video states a “secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels” who “lead the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”
How could anyone take Vice seriously when their owner Shane Smith shamelessly followed Islamist militants in Libya in their fight against Colonel Qaddafi. He has yet to renounce his initial support for the Islamist rebels in Libya that he portrayed as freedom seeking moderates, nor has he made another documentary on the disintegration of Libya that has seen the balkanization of the country and the emergence of ISIS among other Islamist groups since the ‘success’ of the ‘revolution’ he supported.
This once again demonstrates Vice serving American interests to the naive and unsuspecting people of the world whilst portraying itself to being alternative and independent in its reportage. Of course this is not the case when Rupert Murdoch, the board member for propaganda master machine News Corp, that owns The New York Post, The Sun and The Daily Telegraph, has an ownership stake on Vice. It has successfully created this ethos, just as it has served to create the mythology of moderate rebels in southern Syria.
Ahrar ash-Sham have released photos of their militants fighting in Sheikh Miskeen.
Along with the photos, they have also released several videos, including this one of a Syrian Army tank they destroyed in the city.
Did Bayley simply forget that Ahrar ash-Sham were fighting in Sheikh Miskeen, or did he purposefully omit this crucial information that a radical Islamist group allied to Al-Qaeda were fighting in this city.
However, with the fabrication of a moderate SFFSA being exposed and revealed, other lies surround the liberation of Sheikh Miskeen persists. Without a shred of evidence, Kareem Shaheen, a reporter for The Guardian, claimed government forces involved in the liberation were mostly made up of Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese and Palestinian militias.
Assad's jihadist international: forces that took Sheikh Miskin were 2/3 Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese and Palestinian militiamen.
— Kareem Shaheen (@kshaheen) January 27, 2016
When asked to provide a source or evidence, of course, non could be provided by Shaheen. This should not be surprising however by one who works for a propaganda machine like The Guardian.
It is known that the only other groups involved in the liberation, besides the SAA and NDF, were the Palestinian Liberation Army, who are composed of Syrian-born Palestinians fighters. But even they were a minority compared to the native Syrian fighting force.
Therefore, as all the evidence suggests, a moderate SFFSA does not exist when one allies itself to an Al-Qaeda affiliate. These claims by influential figures like Bayley and Vice sets a dangerous precedence when they downplay that these moderate forces are allied to a group whose franchise head was responsible for the September 11 attacks that downed the World Trade Centers, killing just under 3000 Americans.
The international frustration that President Assad will not die like Saddam Hussein and Colonel Qaddafi, has led to the intensification of the propaganda war. This is so much so that supposed moderate rebels working side by side with radical Islamists will be overlooked by media and government figures in the West. This is set to continue since the intervention of Russia in Syria on September 30, 2015, has seen the SAA overturn losses and make rapid advances and territorial liberation in Latakia, eastern and southern Aleppo, eastern Homs and southern Syria.
Just as the myth of moderate rebels in northern Syria has now been debunked and widely accepted by even Western commentators, so will this fabrication in southern Syria be eventually revealed. Hopefully this is before further lies and condemnation can be heaped on Russia and the Syrian government as seen with Bayley’s propaganda statement.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al-Masdar News.
Paul Antonopoulos is currently a Candidate for an MA Degree, writing his dissertation on the Saudi-Iranian Geopolitical Rivalry in the Syrian War.
You can follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/oulosP