#Syria: Debunking the "White Helmets = Al Qa'eda" Smear

Since my initial post on May 10 summarizing & debunking the "White Helmets = Al Qa'eda" smear, Assad supporters have replied --- mostly with ranting and with little new "evidence". So this is an extension of the original 14 points further taking apart the allegations, distortions, and propaganda:

1. Since pro-#Assad folks rehashing "White Helmets = Al Qa'eda" smear, here's sum & debunking of "evidence" | #Syria .@SyriaCivilDef

2. Vid fm 2015 where 2 rescuers called out to retrieve body & found Jabhat al-Nusra execution in progress - They could not halt it.

3. They retrieved body so it could be buried properly --- as White Helmets said at time.

4. Replies by Assad supporters distort but have no evidence to rebut this.

5. Vid of 1 case (#Idlib 2015) where 2 rescuers celebrated near fighters, some of whom were Nusra

6. Later Facebook pics of 1 of these 2 men, posing with gun and appearing to be a fighter - Not established that he is White Helmets & fighter at same time

7. Replies by Assad supporters only add that this man, Muawiya Hassan Agha, was in video this week of two Khan Tuman POWs being abused --- They were later executed

8. No connection between White Helmets and the abuse is established --- Agha is not in WH role and appears to be there as fighter

9. Photo where a rescuer is carrying a gun --- No context has ever established, and this is only case

10. Vid of an old rescuer praising fighters (but not specifically Nusra) - Replies from Assad supporters offer nothing else

11. Only other "new" evidence in replies is photo of White Helmets burning cannabis which has apparently been confiscated by local authorities and ordered to be destroyed

12. This is part of burning of refuse but is converted by Assad supporters into White Helmets as "agents of Sharia court".

13. This is the sum total of all evidence produced for "White Helmets = Al Qa'eda".

13. Remainder of Assad's supporters' case are unsupported allegations, ad hominem attacks, and diversions.

14. For example, video posted to one man's FB page (see 7 above) becomes "Video posted to WH page of the brutal execution of SAA [Syrian Arab Army]"

15. Or hyperbolic question, "Are AQ recruiting WH or WH recruting AQ?"

16. Or unsupported accusation, "No mention of their desecration of SAA bodies"

17. Or "Calling for the burning of [regime enclaves of] #Kafarya and #Foua"

18. Or "All WH operatives only follow ISIS or Al Qaeda on Twitter"

19. Then there is shout of "$60m funding from UK & US Govts for #WhiteHelmets"

20. This can easily be taken apart, but it is diversion from the topic "White Helmets = Al Qa'eda"

21. Still, it is revealing - Logic of Assad supporters is that US is deliberately supporting an Al-Qa'eda-linked group, even though Al Qa'eda is enemy of US

22. In short: ONLY evidence for systematic "White Helmets = Al Qa'eda" is a photo of a man with a gun with no context and another man (who may have left WH some time time ago) in a video with 2 Syrian Army POWs being mistreated. That's it.

23. Even if these two cases were granted, what of the 100s of other rescuers who have saved 10,000s of lives? Are they all Al Qa'eda?

24. This is a recurring smear. Its intent is to justify the attacks on White Helmets rescuers, including the missile strikes that killed five of them near Aleppo in late April.

25. Attention should be given to this smear precisely to repeat its purpose --- and to contrast it with the overwhelming evidence of the White Helmets as savers of life even as their own lives are threatened by bombs --- and by the propagandists who defend the bombers.

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