“In Idlib, Harakat Hazm gave up their positions to Jabhat al-Nusra “without firing a shot”, according to some reports, and some of the men even defected to the jihadists.”
“As a movement, the SRF is effectively finished,” said Aymen al-Tammimi, a Syria analyst. “Nusra has driven them out of their strongholds of Idlib and Hama.”
“For the United States, the weapons they supplied falling into the hands of al-Qaeda is a realisation of a nightmare.”
Read the full report here
Jabhat al-Nusra is deploying heavily in northern #Idlib to counter influence of US-backed groups (esp. Harakat Hazm). pic.twitter.com/lPoRJXSj5w
#Syria #Idlib Mujahideen in full control of the al-Busaliyya barrier near Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib province
A big convoy of Faylaq al Sham mujahideen from #Idlib headed towards #Lattakia as reinforcement for their brothers
On Sunday 23rd March, rebels in Syria launched offensive (of which AlNusra, an AlQaeda affiliated group, was but one of many participants) into Latakia province via Idlib and East Latakia (AlAnfal offensive). Among the towns and villages seized from Assad regime troops in the advance, was Kessab and its Turkey border crossing. Three days later the world was hit by the largest viral social media disinformation campaign in history.
A cacophony of hoax images, misused videos, and Syrian State TV reports (including the 80 killed 12 beheaded story, which was then taken and cited by tens of smaller outlets giving the illusion of a large source basin) spread through social media like wildfire. Once again, Assad is pulling the minorities propaganda card.
A “#SaveKessab” trend riled up a global community of expat Armenians, Twitter teenagers, and Keeping Up With The Kardashians viewers; to arms (i.e. iPhone fingers). Catchy propaganda posters with gory images coupled with lent voices from famously stupid famous people fed fuel to the Twitter fire. Hoax images are mostly being posted first to Instagram with the ArmenianUnity and SaveKessab instagram pages being so far the most notorious for posting misused and hoax images.
(Below: Famously stupid famous people lending their fans and followers)
The result thousands of wannabe politically-enlightened good-will “activists” (Who have never heard of Kessab in their lives, don’t know where it is, and utterly blissfully ignorant of the Syrian conflict) ravenously retweeting, tweeting and hashtagging the ongoing “Mass murder and genocide of Armenians in Kessab by the Turkish military and AlQaeda, a continuation of the 1915 genocide” – because as per the rules of Twitter, enough retweets can stop a non-existent genocide from happening. Welcome to the internet.
Makes you think why Kessab earns a global trend, where was such Save_____ hashtags for the brutal massacres in Syria’s Banias? Ghouta? Jdeidat alFadl? Halfiyeh? Deir Ba’albeh? Sanamain? Darayya? etc etc.
Here is a summary of the authentic images, videos and sights from Kessab, showing churches unharmed and residents untouched: http://nshakfeh.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the_facts_about_kassab/
The only released image from Kessab showing “rebel atrocities” in Kessab that is authentic, is this one of a church with its cross removed, an action which saw sharp rebuke and if direct video proof is anything to go by, has not been repeated. I repeat, I do not condone any action of sectarian basis, desecration of any holy site, or have any support to Jabhat alNusra who participated in the Anfal offensive:
But, Church with cross removed =/= Genocide.
I must stress as I have plenty before, I and “we” acknowledge the horrors of the 1915 Armenian genocide and condemn it along with any discrimination against Armenians who are fully a part of Syria and its society. It must also be stressed that the wave of racist, abusive and outrageously bigoted responses many have received for debunking Assad state media on Kessab, most commonly along the lines of “Go f*** yourself you dirty Muslim pig of a Turk”, are not appreciated.
Now onto the catalysts:
One particular video has been repeatedly shared and posted as the base proof of “mass execution and genocide of Armenians in Kessab” reportedly showing Al-Qaeda affiliated fighters executing Armenian civilians.
Here is the most commonly shared still of the video, which has been repeatedly reposted many hundreds of times:
The video is 4 months old (from 4th January) and is of 10 captive regime troops being executed by AlNusra front in Aleppo. Nothing to do with Kessab.
Here is a re-upload of the video by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights with a report attached: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZljM2NGR5II&feature=youtu.be
Another video seen spread around is of “two Armenians stopped and executed in Kessab by AlNusra”. Seen this uploaded a few times, here’s an example: http://www.veooz.com/videos/hH256Zj.html
Its actually a famous old video of ISIS executing 2 Alawite truck drivers in Iraq, August 2013:
Now to the most famous and widespread gore propaganda poster on Kessab. I cannot bear to think how many times this has been posted on to Instagram and Twitter – The first upload that went viral (I believe) being on the ArmenianUnity Instagram page. In either case it sums up the a few of the most misused images in the SaveKessab hoaxes.
Here is the image compilation tweeted in typical format:
The bottom image has been dealt with so lets take the rest apart.
Top left is perhaps the most famous propaganda hoax of the Syrian conflict and seemingly the second most widespread individual image on the SaveKessab trend- initially used by Assad propagandists to claim Syrian rebels rape and mutilate Christian girls, now recycled for Kessab:
And as has been explained an unbelievable times over the past few years, its from a gore-horror film from 2005, “Inner Depravity”, directed by some twisted person Remy Couture.
Next is the top right image, the one I personally found the most outrageous, claimed to be an “Armenian Christian child in Kessab beheaded by Turks and/or Rebels and/or AlQaeda and/or The Bogeyman”
Here’s another variation of the image also being misused aplenty in the SaveKessab campaign.
This is Fatima Meghlaj, a young muslim girl decapitated by Assad artillery shelling on her house in Idlib, 2012. Her image became one of the symbols of the Syrian revolution:http://www.therevoltingsyrian.com/post/31731941551/her-name-is-fatima-meghlaj-2-years-old-from-kafr
Of course, its not the first time Meghlaj’s image has been misused by Islamaphobic propaganda to demonise rebels: http://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/graphic-muslim-trophy-in-syria-lifeless-body-of-decapitate-christian-child/
Now the bottom left beheading image:
his is a still from a hoax, of a hoax. Initially used by the Assad regime to claim rebels beheading priest Francois Murad with two other priests in Ghassaniya, North Syria, and prompted a global internet sensation in July 2013.
Of course, it was later debunked to be another unknown execution of prisoners by ISIS in Mashhad Ruhin, and dismissed by Human Rights Watch and the Vatican: http://m.ibtimes.co.uk/syria-catholic-priest-beheading-video-murad-485700
Now it is being used to claim Christians being killed by *insert something to do with Turkey, or AlQaeda, or Turkey, or Israel, or Turkey, or Turkey* in Kessab.
Lastly, the bottom right image:
Earliest uploads of the image claim it to be of Yusuf Abiddin, beheaded by AlNusra front in June 2013, so, also not Kessab: http://thahop.com/blogs/1/2651/warning-man-kidnapped-and-behea
Now here comes another majorly viral image claiming to show a Church in Kessab with its cross removed and replaced by AQ flag.
As is the nature of such things, they will inevitably get picked up and trumpeted by any Islamaphobia propaganda outlet within viewing distance of the internet, Walid Shoebat’s blog in particular.
Anyways the image is from a church in Raqqa, hundreds of km away and under ISIS control (under which the churches were desecrated):
Then there’s this, posted many times making a comparison to the 1915 genocide and claiming the lower image to be of Christians beheaded by rebels in Kessab.
The image is from February 2014, showing four Kurds from the Jabhat alAkrad rebel group beheaded and mocked by ISIS in the town of ‘Azaz before ISIS was driven out of the town by a rebel coalition. The image was widely uploaded and the first detailed report of the beheadings is here: http://aranews.org/en/home/kurdish-region/1049-isil-fighters-behead-four-kurds.html
Now this, self expalantory. Oh lol:
Once again, another ISIS crimes from Raqqa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1aPWH0_crU
The crucified man was later identified to be an Islamist rebel fighter from Ahrar alSham, a group which participated in the Kessab assault. Irony is never lost.
This one was also particularly outrageous:
“This is deep, yet some people have the nerves to deny that there’s innocent Christians being killed”
Haha, because there aren’t.
Notice the top of the tweeted image maliciously cropped out to hide the tweet origin, being in 2013 from @Hhassan140, an editor on TheNational?
Honestly if you’re gonna make propaganda make it vaguely plausible at least. The actual image is from Decembr 2013 and it went viral across the internet, showing a boy injured after a barrel bomb attack on Aleppo, the words being reported by a local LCC page apparently.
And of course, what’s an Assad propaganda campaign without recycled Red Cross images from the May 2013 Banias Massacre? Its just not ever complete without it. “WOW” indeed. Moving right along.
This image has also propped up a few times under the SaveKessab trend:
Image is from Aleppo 2012:
Here’s another such propaganda poster, this time claiming to show a boy shot in the head by *insert something turkey turkey erDOGan*.
Not 100% what the origin of the image is but earliest upload dates in 2006 state it as a victim from a bomb blast in Bahrain: