SYRIA EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Beeley Meets the White Helmets and Armed Group Leader in Daraa Al Balad

17 October 2018 — 21st CenturyWire

[This is a massive and comprehensive resource on the terrorist organisation, funded by the US and British imperialists, the so-called White Helmets. So large in fact, that just transposing to The New Dark Age, is too complicated due to format conversion, so I’ve decided to put up a section of it instead with a link through to the complete article. But this resource needs as wide a distribution as possible. I think it sets a benchmark for independent journalists investigating the machinations of the Empire. Read on . . . WB]

Leader of the White Helmet center in Daraa Al Balad, Abu Mohanad Al Mahamid talks to Vanessa Beeley on 20th September 2018. (Photo: Screenshot from video of interview)

Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire 

“If you shout at us we will cry, we are so sensitive” Abu Mohanad Al Mahamid told me on the 20th September 2018.  Al Mahamid is the leader of the still-functioning White Helmet center in Dara’a Al Balad to the south of Damascus in Syria. Al Mahamid had donned his white helmet for the camera before he spoke to us about the role of these White Helmets who had remained in Dara’a Al Balad, when other White Helmet members had boarded the buses for Idlib with Nusra Front or for Israel and Jordan as part of the special evacuation organised by the members of the US Coalition. 

The journey to this White Helmet center had been a circuitous one. I traveled with my translator and a Syrian journalist working independently on this trip. Since July 2018 a tenuous ceasefire had been negotiated between the armed groups and members of the Russian Reconciliation team. Conditions included the surrendering of heavy and medium weapons. (De-escalation zones had previously been established in mid 2017). Russia secured the right of admission to liberated areas for the Syrian Arab Army and the withdrawl of extremist groups from areas close to the Jordanian borders. The Al Nassib border crossing, for example, would come back under the management of the SAA. While some groups occupying areas in the countryside and city of Daraa accepted the Russian conditions, Dara’a Al Balad was one of the areas that chose to continue with a ‘policy of confrontation’.

“..military factions have refused the offer entirely and choose confrontations, especially in Dara’a al-Balad and the towns of Saida, elmiathin, Nasib, el-Emtaih, al-Naimah, el-Taebah, arriving at the western countryside of Tafas, Nawa and its surrounding. The concerned factions include “al-Thawra Army”, “First Artillery Regment” “Osod al-Sunna”, “Falojat Horan Brigade”, “Thuwar al- Jaidour” and “al-Bunyan al-Marsous”.” ~ taken from a report in Enab Baladi in July 2018

Russia had offered a separate deal to the rebranded Nusra Front faction, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), occuping areas of Dara’a. According to the report in Enab Baladi, the former Emir of HTS, the infamous Abu Jaber, turned down the Russian proposal. Abu Jaber had originally been one of the founding commanders of the “moderate” extremist group, Ahrar Al Sham, responsible for a number of brutal ethnic cleansing massacres in Syria. The carnage in Al Zara in the suburbs of Homs was carried out by this group in May 2016, targeting a predominantly Alawite community. One of the more horrifying images to emerge from this bloodthirsty rampage was one depicting Ahrar Al Sham militants standing over the corpses of brutally murdered women. Despite these repugnant sectarian crimes against the Syrian people, the US administration refused to comply with Russian demands that Ahrar Al Sham be designated a “terrorist” group.

Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini with SAA captives at Abu Duhur Air Base. (Photo: Syria Comment)

In January 2017 Abu Jaber resigned from Ahrar Al Sham altogether and five major extremist groups merged into the rebranded HTS with Abu Jaber as their Emir. In October 2017, Abu Jaber was replaced as Emir by Mohammed Al-Joulani. During its formation, HTS had also released a statement “saying that six leading jihadi scholars have joined the newly formed group.” One of these was Sheikh Abdullah Mohammed Al Muhaysini, a Riyadh educated and financed zealot, one of the most extreme and bloodthirsty ideologues operating in Syria. The US administration designated Muhaysini a terrorist in 2016.

The UK Intelligence propaganda construct, and multi-million-dollar US Coalition-financed White Helmet group has consistently demonstrated its ties to these terrorist and “moderate” extremist groups in Syria. White Helmet operatives have been filmed with Muhaysini in the countryside of Northern Hama/Idlib, welcoming terrorist factions evacuated from Daraya as part of the Syrian Government’s Amnesty and Reconciliation deal, in August 2016 . Muhaysini has often endorsed and supported the White Helmets, describing them as “no different to the Mujahadeen (armed groups)” in September 2016.

In March 2017, while Emir of HTS, effectively Al Qaeda, Abu Jaber praised the White Helmets as the “hidden soldiers of the revolution”. The White Helmet billionaire funded PR industry and their supporters in corporate media have tried, unsuccessfully, to distance the White Helmets from their ties with HTS.

This introduction will provide important background to the claims and statements made by the White Helmets and FSA commander, Adham Alkarad whom I also met in Dara’a Al Balad in September 2018 while inside the White Helmet headquarters.

Entering Daraa – Dara’a Countryside, Al Omari Mosque, Al Manshia and Dara’a Al Balad

Members of armed group Shabab Al Sunnah in Al Manshia, Dara’a Al Balad. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

After discussions with the Syrian Arab Army and Russian Military Police officials we entered areas of the countryside of Daraa and Daraa City , accompanied by members of one of the armed groups that had accepted Russian/Syrian ceasefire conditions, Shabab Al Sunnah. We visited the Ramsa border with Jordan which is for vehicles only and was one of the main supply routes from Jordan to the assorted armed groups occupying Daraa City and the surrounding areas.As we hear so often during these trips, the members of Shabab Al Sunnah confirmed that Nusra Front had been the dominant force in the province.

The Ramsa border with Jordan. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley) 

Logo of the “Sons of Al Aqsa” brigade in the border checkpoint at Ramsa border with Jordan. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Air Defence Base 

The road into the Air Defence Base in the Dara’a Countryside

After the border with Jordan, we headed north-west to the Air Defence Base that had been the scene of the massacre of the SAA soldiers defending the base by members of the Al Bunyan Al Marsous military operations group that was made up of 17 armed factions including HTS, Ahrar Al Sham and various divisions of the “moderate” FSA. The motto of the group was “Death and No Humiliation”. On 20th June 2017, the base was overrun by extremist groups. The majority of the SAA soldiers were brutally murdered. To our knowledge four soliders were taken captive and the bodies and captives were brought back to an area very close to the White Helmet center in Dara’a Al Balad.

Image taken from Twitter showing Air Defence Base under attack and on point of capture June 2017. 

SAA bodies, killed at the Air Defence Base, were piled up in the back of a truck before being brought back to Dara’a City. (Photo: Screenshot from video)

A White Helmet operative was videoed clambering over the broken and bloody bodies of the soldiers while one of the armed group members held a severed head aloft in triumph. Another video was also released showing the militants laughing and manhandling the bodies piled on top of one another in the back of the truck. I will cover this incident in more detail later in the article and demonstrate that the White Helmets and HTS/FSA were responsible for a hideous war crime, one of many ignored by the colonial media cartel in the West.

The Air Defence Base now back under the control of the SAA since July 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The Air Defence Base had then been taken over and occupied by HTS/Nusra Front, again according to the Shabab Al Sunnah fighters, before its liberation by the SAA in 2018.


Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. Please support her work at her Patreon account. 

Huge thanks also to the many Twitter accounts and to Wissam Sliman who supported me in the research for this article: @Qoppa999 @RenieriArts @amin251

Read On . . .

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