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The Local Coordinating Committee of Daraya, where Assad's goons slaughtered 630 people in the worst massacre to date against the Syrian Revolution has published this response to Robert Fisk's report on the Daraya massacre:

The Local Coordination Committees’ in Daraya Respond to Mr. Robert Fisk

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 8:42pm ·

Daraya Coordination Committee

Press Release

Robert Fisk’s report about the massacre of Saturday 25/08/2012

On Wednesday 29 August 2012, Mr. Robert Fisk of The Independent wrote a report on the Daraya Massacre that was perpetrated only 4 days earlier. Mr. Fisk is a world-famous journalist known for his balanced opinion pieces and ground-breaking reports especially from the Middle East. The people of Syria especially remember Fisk for being the first foreign reporter to enter the city of Hama after the 1982 massacre and relate to the world the horrors he saw there. Thus, we were absolutely astonished by the above-mentioned report and would like to make sure that certain points in it are not left uncorrected. We do this out of respect to the fallen heroes and to make sure the voice of the victims is heard.

Anyone who watched the infamous and insolent report made by the state-favored Addounia TV, would notice the obvious similarities between the two reports.

One major concern that would invalidate any statement taken from the victims is the presence of army personnel as admitted by Mr. Fisk himself. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Syrian regime would know the degree of intimidation this would incur in the hearts and minds of witnesses. The army does not need to spoon-feed the statements to the witnesses as fear is more than enough to make them repeat the narrative propagated by the government about armed militias and radical Islamists.

Moreover, the article is headlined and predicated on the government’s unbelievable prisoner-swap story. The question that begs to be asked is the following: Even if there was a prisoner exchange and it failed, does the Assad regime have any grounds at all for this level of retaliation? Were there similar failed rounds of negotiation before the massacres of Muaddamiya, Saqba etc. In fact, what has been happening in the towns of the Damascus Countryside Governorate, and indeed all of Syria, follows a similar scenario that begins with shelling and ends with massacres of civilians.

A seemingly strong point in Mr. Fisk’s report is his mentioning of real names of people telling their real stories. However, the Coordination Committee of Daraya has been in touch with some of these people and the following corrections need to be made.

1- The story of Hamdi Khreitem’s parents. The witness must have been too intimidated to identify his parents’ killers. Our reliable sources from the field hospital of Daraya confirm that both of them were targeted by a sniper (from the Assad army of course).

2- The story of Khaled Yahya Zukari. The witness was actually in a car with his brother and their wives and children. They were shot at by government forces and his wife and daughter (Leen) were hit. The baby girl’s head was almost split in half and a bullet penetrated the mother’s chest. The mother became hysterical as a result of the shock. Later she died as the field hospital had to be evacuated prior to an army raid. The Assad army told the people that the FSA raped and killed the woman.

The fear and intimidation of witnesses is reflected sometimes in their refusal to name a guilty side. Moreover, Mr. Fisk should know better than reporting conjecture such as this: ‘Another man said that, although he had not seen the dead in the graveyard, he believed that most were related to the government’s army and included several off-duty conscripts.’ The implicit accusation is of course directed against the FSA and this method of reporting resembles Syrian state propaganda par excellence, something that we wish Mr. Fisk had not done.

The revolution committee would finally like to stress also that Mr. Fisk did not meet any member of the opposition in Daraya and that he merely depended on the narrative of his ‘tour guides’ in reporting on such a horrific massacre, the ugliest Syria has seen in the 17 months of the revolution.

I use to really rely on Robert Fisk but I'll be damned if I can accept him reporting under the eyes of Syrian government minders just so he can scoop other Western reporters. Here is Robert Fisk's report:  

Robert Fisk: Inside Daraya - how a failed prisoner swap turned into a massacre

Exclusive: The first Western journalist to enter the town that felt Assad's fury hears witness accounts of Syria's bloodiest episode
Wednesday 29 August 2012

The massacre town of Daraya is a place of ghosts and questions.  It echoed to the roar of mortar explosions and the crackle of gunfire yesterday, its few returning citizens talking of death and assault, of foreign ‘terrorists’, its cemetery of slaughter haunted by snipers. But the men and women to whom we could talk, two of whom had lost their loved ones on Daraya’s day of infamy four days ago, told a story quite different from the popular version that has gone round the world:  theirs was a tale of hostage-taking by the Free Syria Army and desperate prisoner-exchange negotiations between the armed opponents of the regime and the Syrian army, before Bashar al-Assad’s government decided to storm into the town and seize it back from rebel control.

Officially, no word of such talks between sworn enemies has leaked out.  But senior Syrian officers spoke to The Independent about how they had “exhausted all possibilities of reconciliation” with those holding the town, while citizens of Daraya told us that there had been an attempt by both sides to arrange a swap of civilians and off-duty soldiers in the town – apparently kidnapped by rebels because of their family connections with the government army – with prisoners in the army’s custody.  When these talks broke down, the army advanced into Daraya, only six miles from the centre of Damascus.

Being the first western eyewitness into the town yesterday was as frustrating as it was dangerous. The bodies of men, women and children had, of course, been moved from the cemetery where many of them were found; and when we arrived in the company of Syrian troops at the Sunni Muslim graveyard – divided by the main road through Daraya – snipers opened fire at the soldiers, hitting the back of the ancient armoured vehicle in which we made our escape. Yet we could talk to civilians out of earshot of Syrian officials – in two cases in the security of their own homes – and their narrative of last Saturday’s mass killing of 245 men, women and children suggested that the atrocities were far more widespread than supposed. More...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:19:04 PM PDT

  •  I would not be willing to throw Robert Fisk's (10+ / 0-)

    account out of the window. This is a civil war, and the 'freedom fighters' are one party in it.

    He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

    by Sophie Amrain on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:35:32 PM PDT

  •  Many die-hard and uncritical "Fans" of (8+ / 0-)

    various Lebanese armed factions attacked him and claimed he was somehow discredited when he reported things they didn't want to hear.

    Why anyone thinks "I'm pissed that Fisk isn't polishing the halos of my favorite group of killers" is something worth writing about is beyond me.

    ‎"I weep for you," the Walrus said: "I deeply sympathize."

    by JesseCW on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:02:38 PM PDT

  •  The poor FSA (5+ / 0-)

    They weren't allow to spin their killings in a Western article.

    I don't see you complain when the UN makes a decision on Houla based solely on FSA reports. (Even though the Germans did an extensiveinvestigation that showed the FSA as the ones that killed a bunch of pro-regime supporters.)

    Here is a Turkish report of the various FSA/other elements of the 'revolution'. If you made a graph, it would like this:

    Al Qaeda:                     ...
    Not quite Al Qaeda       ....................
    Muslim Brotherhood     ......................
    Secular                         .

    And you want me to support this? And believe them? They have lied since day one to the West about their goals. It's not like they name their battalions after Gloria Steinem....they name them after initial Caliphate military rulers.

    They call themselves the 'Islamic Dawn' (al fajr al islami).

    So either you are totally ignorant of the uprising, or you are paid to spin this as some sort of modern revolution that it isn't.

    Either way, your defense of the FSA on this site, and calls to military action, are nothing a progressive should support.

  •  asdf (8+ / 0-)

    What you and other supporters of the FSA overlook is that in any conflict situation where both sides are armed, deaths and killings will come from both sides. I don't see how in a shoot-out between 2 groups with guns, only one side is going to do all the killing. Given that, I'm likely to take with a grain of salt anything or anyone that tells me that the regime or the FSA did all the killing. We know that in the days after the FSA entered Daraya, there were streams of cars leaving the area to safer places. We know that the army came and then lots of people died. The only way we find out who killed them is to talk to witnesses and evaluate their stories.  Your condemnation of Fisk for not following the party line and trying to do his job of sniffing out what happened is rather telling.

  •  Hmm, Robert Fisk or Clay Claiborne? Who to trust? (7+ / 0-)

    Robert Fisk's credentials:

    Fisk holds more British and International Journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent. His awards include being voted International Journalist of the Year seven times.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    Clay Claiborne's credentials: Being a propagandist and mouthpiece for the FSA, refusing to condemn FSA human rights violations even when the UN and HRW did, being busted for lying several times on this site, accusing Kossacks of being Pro-Assad shills, who post stuff from Syrian government websites, who want to see the slaughter of Syrian children, etc., all without a shred of proof.

    This one isn't a tough decision.

  •  Rebels execute prisoner using American M16's (0+ / 0-)
    Syria: Execution of a Civilian by Ansar Al-Sunna insurgents in Deraa

    http://www.firstpost.com/...

  •  Christians and Armenians among latest to die (0+ / 0-)
    http://www.independent.co.uk/...
    Robert Fisk: Another week in the violent, murderous and divided world of Syria

    A week is a long time in violence. It seems only yesterday – five days ago, in fact – that armed men shot Sheikh Abu Haitham al-Bortawi outside the el-Noor mosque in the Rukenadin suburb of Damascus. Went to the scene. Middle class area. Tree shaded, clean street. Ten in the morning. Turns out he was the cleric who knelt right next to Bashar al-Assad for the Eid prayers at the end of Ramadan. A dagger to the heart of the body politick.

    I meet an old friend the next day at a café in Mezzeh, and he's crying. His dentist lived in Zabadani, in the hills near the Lebanese border, in Free Syria Army country. His son was warned the family home was unsafe because of incoming fire. From the army? No one's sure. But a shell hit the house and the dentist has just arrived at the French Hospital. Dead, his grieving family still at the morgue.

    Then there's the two Christian guys outside town. One runs a DVD store, the other a pharmacy. Murdered. Next day, their funeral cortege is car-bombed. Twelve dead, at least 40 wounded. Turns out they had brothers in the Syrian army, apparently conscripts. Hardly a sin. But the opposition says the two men were "connected to the military".
    ...

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