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Peter Korzun — Strategic Culture Feb 25, 2018

Smoke rises from the rebel held besieged town of Hamoruryeh, eastern Ghouts, Feb 21, 2018. Click to enlarge

As usual, the West has demonstrated its ability to fire off a quick response when it comes to slamming Russia for something it has not done. This time it’s about Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb under terrorist control. The accusation? Russia and its ally Syria are guilty of killing innocent civilians, thanks to their devastatingattacks and “siege-and-starve tactics.” It’s the same old story – no actions against terrorists are permissible because of the risk of collateral damage. The Western media have jumped on the anti-Russia bandwagon as readily as if they were orchestra members carefully following the tempo of their conductor’s baton. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wasted no time chiming in.

One has to do some digging into the problem to see what’s really happening in Eastern Ghouta. It was reported on Feb. 21 that talks to end the hostilities had broken down because the terrorists had refused to lay down their arms. The anti-government groups, including the notorious Al-Nusra(Hayat Tahrir alSham), have prevented civilians from leaving this dangerous zone. They are obstructing the humanitarian operations of international aid agencies, such as the Red Cross and World Food Program. The UN has repeatedly expressed its concern over the situation in the region, urging that humanitarian access to the area be safeguarded.

The presence of armed jihadists in Eastern Ghouta, which is at the root of the problem, is never mentioned in Western press reports. The attacks on Russia’s embassy in Damascus carried out by the same “guys” who are causing the suffering of civilians in Ghouta, receive little or no media attention.

Russian aircraft did not conduct air strikes on this suburb. The Western accusations are groundless and offer no details. The Russian military has been involved in humanitarian efforts to help the refugees fleeing this dangerous area. It was Moscow alone who called for the urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation.

The Syrian authorities have never made a secret of their intention to rid the area of jihadists. A ground offensive might be coming soon, but would that be a bad thing? Isn’t it the duty of any government to provide security to its citizens by fighting the terrorists who are holding civilians hostage? Terrorists from Eastern Ghouta regularly shell Damascus, killing civilians.

The sooner the suburb is liberated, the better for everyone. If the anti-Assad fighters were real patriots, they would have left the populated areas a long time ago. Instead, they use civilians as human shields. Aren’t they the ones to blame for this dire situation? But no, the Western media call them “rebels,” not “gangs of ruthless murderers.” The terrorists in Ghouta won’t surrender because they are pinning their hopes on the West to help them out.

What about the caused by the air strikes by the US-led coalition? What about the suffering of the local people during the US-led operation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS? More civilians than ISIS terrorists died during the battle for Mosul. US airstrikes left large numbers of civilians dead in Raqqa. When questions were asked, the answer was always the same – civilian casualties are unavoidable in war. But if that’s true, then why has the spotlight been turned on the operation in Eastern Ghouta, which is being described as a human tragedy, while the civilian casualties inflicted during the US-led operations in the Iraqi towns of Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul, and Raqqa received quite different coverage in the Western media? Huge numbers of civilian casualties have been described as “collateral damage” and the unfortunate, yet inevitable, side effect of urban warfare. This double standard could not be more blatant.

Terrorists are at the heart of the problem but they can only put up resistance if someone is supporting them. Remember the multiple revelations about the US arming terrorist organizations in Syria? Al-Nusra commanders have confirmed this information.

Nothing is clear-cut in war. Dodgy dealings and very strange alliances abound.We will learn a lot more about the Syrian war as time goes by. If the terrorists had not received any material aid, there would have been no need to conduct operations to liberate large urban areas from their clutches, thus causing civilian deaths. Everything should be done to minimize any terrible fallout, but there is no way to escape human suffering when combat actions take place in towns and cities.

Eastern Ghouta used to be a de-escalation zone but the Al-Qaeda linked groups operating there are not bound by any agreement. The only solution is to wipe them out. The quicker it is done, the more human lives will be saved. Deprived of Western support and any hope of some kind of “deal,” the terrorists would surrender. But while the West tries to protect the “rebels” and shift the blame for everything onto Russia and its allies, the jihadists will continue to resist.

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