Rami Abdul Rahman, AKA Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Aeneas

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Thor said:
Aeneas said:
Thor said:
Laura said:
We ought to find out what media outlets use this bozo as a source and nail them here in the thread and on sott.

In Denmark, all the main stream papers quote SOHR all the time in the attempt to paint a picture that demonises Russia and glorifies the US led coalition. :(

If that is so, then we should also translate the two articles by Niall and Tony Cartalucci into Danish and get it up on Danish Sott. Let me know if you have time to translate.

I have some time this weekend and will start on the Cartalucci article.
Great!

Could you email Danish Sott, when you are finished? The email address is sott_da@sott.net
 

Aeneas

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Just reposting the latest Sott Focus article by Beau, that exposes the SOHR. (Good job!)

https://www.sott.net/article/329117-Propaganda-spin-cycle-Syrian-Observatory-for-Human-Rights-is-funded-by-US-and-UK-governments
Propaganda spin cycle: 'Syrian Observatory for Human Rights' is funded by US and UK governments
Propaganda_war_on_syria_Press_.jpg

For 5 years, bloody mayhem has been going on in Syria, and in all that time only independent media has picked up on the really obvious flaw in the official narrative about the "Syrian civil war" ...

Officially, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is a UK-based organization providing data to the Western press about troop movements, government policy and public sentiment in Syria. The Western press then reprints the information they are given - no questions asked:
560e6f40c36188597c8b45b5.jpg

What Western media editors conceal from the public however, is that the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" is neither based in Syria nor is it an observer of what actually goes on there. It is essentially one man - Abdul Rahman, aka Rami Abdulrahman, aka Osama Suleiman - a three-term convicted criminal in Syria, based out of a small house in Coventry, England, and his 'team of four activists in Syria'.

Apparently all it takes to inform the entire Western media about everything that is happening on the ground in Syria is four people. Four people could, theoretically, provide reasonably objective reports, but only if they were open to receiving information from many sources, including ones supportive of the Syrian government. They might even be able to produce - using objective discernment - reliable statistics of casualties, refugees and terrorists/rebels. But SOHR has consistently reported the 'civil war' from only the perspective of the so-called 'rebels', discounting Syrian government reports out of hand, as well as reports from civilians that reveal rebels' crimes.

That fact alone makes SOHR about as reliable a source of information on the Syrian conflict as the US State Department and the British Foreign Office, who have a vested interest in spinning the war to produce one end: the death or removal of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

Rahman, by his own admission, is a member of the 'Syrian opposition' and seeks the ouster of Al Assad, so that clearly removes any semblance of objectivity in his 'reporting'.

But there's more. Rahman, and the SOHR that he runs, has long ago been exposed as a Western propaganda front. As Tony Cartalucci writes in his expose:

"One could not fathom a more unreliable, compromised, biased source of information, yet for the past two years, his "Observatory" has served as the sole source of information for the endless torrent of propaganda emanating from the Western media. Perhaps worst of all, is that the United Nations uses this compromised, absurdly overt source of propaganda as the basis for its various reports."

This man is as far from a 'human rights activist' as anyone can be. His funding comes from the European Union and "an unnamed European state," most likely the UK as he has direct access to former Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and shares Rahman's enthusiasm for removing Assad from power. The NYT in fact reveals that it was the British government that first relocated Abdul Rahman to Coventry, England after he fled Syria over a decade ago because of his anti-government activities:

"When two associates were arrested in 2000, he fled the country, paying a human trafficker to smuggle him into England. The government resettled him in Coventry, where he decided he liked the slow pace."

10observatory_cnd_popup.jpg

"Hold the line, Jafar, I've got MI6 on another call..."

'Rami Abdulrahman', one-man lie factory
Et voila! What was once a criminal with subversive tendencies is now a 'human rights activist' (but really a British intelligence asset). Does anyone really think that any of these organizations would pay a convicted criminal to be anything other than their mouthpiece for seeding the lies printed in Western media? As Joe Quinn and Niall Bradley noted last year, figures provided by the SOHR are routinely cited by Western media to generate public support for airstrikes and regime change in Syria.

So who in the Western media uses such a biased propaganda source? It would be easier to provide a list of who doesn't. CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Huffington Post, Fox and Vice... just to name a few. These presstitute organizations apparently don't care that they're taking the word of someone who has a political interest in the outcome and who is funded toward that end by the British government. Are there any investigative journalists left in mainstream media? Those with two firing neurons are few and far between these days...

Western intelligence agencies set up the armed opposition/terrorist proxy forces in Syria, so they would obviously want to control the media narrative about what happens there. Rahman does his part by vacuuming up information reported by those same proxy forces. This information is then given out to the Western media with SOHR as source. The whole operation is so patently shady, it should scream 'spooks' to any real journalist. And to be honest, Western journalist really should know better.
Iraq_curveball.jpg

Dubya's one-man Iraq War justifier dubbed 'Curveball' aka Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi
What's that phrase that George Dubya Bush mangled: 'fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me'. Mr. SOHR is basically a less sophisticated Syrian war version of the Iraq war's 'Curveball' or Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi (for those interested in his real name). Alwan was the guy that the US government used to back up their 'Saddam has WMDs' claim that justified the invasion and 10 year occupation of Iraq, and the murder of 1.5 million Iraqi citizens. To his friends, Alwan was a congenital liar who fled Iraq in 1999 when he was caught trying to embezzle state funds. When he fled to Germany in 1999, and told German intelligence that he graduated top of his chemical engineering class at Baghdad University and worked on a team that built mobile labs to produce WMDs, he became 'curveball'.

When this information was passed on to US intelligence, they conveniently ignored the evidence that he was a congenital liar and embezzler who placed last in his university class and drove a taxi for a living before fleeing to Germany, and decided that everything he was saying about Iraqi WMDs was true. To further prove his credentials, 'curveball' identified a a particular Iraqi facility as a "docking station for mobile labs". When UN weapons inspectors visited the site on February 9, 2003, they found a warehouse used for seed processing.

Powell_anthrax_vial.jpg

Feb. 2003, Colin Powell at the UN peddling 'curveball's' lies to the world to justify war.
So with this information, then Sec. of State Colin Powell decided to do the right thing, and ran to the UN and told them all about 'curveball' and his damning 'evidence' of Iraqi WMDs. Why? Because US politicians had long before decided that they were going to invade and destroy Iraq and loot its resources. They were, as the saying goes, 'fixing the facts around a war policy' by using the bogus claims of known liars to justify their war. This is precisely what Mr. SOHR is doing for the US government today, and still, the media sucks it up and regurgitates it for the general public.

So this is what our media has become, a gaggle of morons brainlessly repeating lies vomited up by our psychopathic reality-creators, thereby manipulating public perception of world events and making sure we all see the world the way they want us to see it, and not how it really is. One thing is certain: if you believe what Rahman and the SOHR is telling you about what's happening in Syria, you are believing in lies.
 

Laura

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Yup: here's the weapon: https://www.sott.net/article/329117-Propaganda-spin-cycle-Syrian-Observatory-for-Human-Rights-is-funded-by-US-and-UK-governments

Now, let's all post it on FB every couple of days, and on Twitter once a day.
 

Joe

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We would also share the one Niall and I wrote last year.

https://www.sott.net/article/302827-Syrian-Observatory-for-Human-Rights-spreads-lies-to-generate-Western-public-support-for-regime-change
 

Laura

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Joe said:
We would also share the one Niall and I wrote last year.

https://www.sott.net/article/302827-Syrian-Observatory-for-Human-Rights-spreads-lies-to-generate-Western-public-support-for-regime-change

Yup! Everybody fire at will!
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
These were published today (9-24-2016). First two published by Reuters and the third by The Guardian.

This first one only has two paragraphs:

Syrian Observatory: 25 killed in Aleppo attacks on Saturday
http://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-crisis-syria-toll-idUSL8N1C0073

This is a longer article and the spin they put on events is pure trash.

Warplanes press attack on rebel-held eastern Aleppo
http://isp.netscape.com/news/us/story/0002/20160924/KCN11U05B_4

This by the Guardian with photos and video: Unicef and the White Helmets are added to the narrative that was produced in the second article above.

Syria bombings leave 1.75 million without running water in Aleppo
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/24/syrian-military-bombardment-of-aleppo-enters-third-day

Hanaa Singer, the Unicef representative in Syria, said: “Nearly 2 million people in Aleppo are once again with no running water through the public network. Depriving children of water puts them at risk of catastrophic outbreaks of waterborne diseases and adds to the suffering, fear and horror that children in Aleppo live through every day.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said it had documented 47 deaths on Friday, including five children.

The civil defense, known as the “white helmets”, was overwhelmed by the scale of the destruction, which included several of its bases.

Al Jazeera spiced up - the article above and added a different video.

'Ferocious' air strikes pummel Aleppo as ground gained
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/warplanes-mount-strikes-rebel-held-aleppo-160924080435839.html

Sources told Al Jazeera on Saturday that at least 91 people had been killed in the past 24 hours.

"The raids are intense and continuous," Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based organisation that reports on the war, said.

Hanaa Singer, UNICEF representative in Syria, said intense attacks damaged the Bab al-Nairab water pumping station that supplies some 250,000 people in rebel-held eastern parts of the contested city with water.

Three centres for a volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets were also hit.

"We have four centres in eastern Aleppo. The aircraft targeted three centres. Two of them are now out of service," Abdul Rahman al-Hassani of the White Helmets told Al Jazeera.

ABC News added Doctors Without Borders into the mix.

Syrian Troops Advance in Aleppo Amid War's Heaviest Bombing
http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/million-people-aleppo-running-water-42324460

Government forces captured the rebel-held Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat as airstrikes pounded rebel-held eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, killing 52 people, including 11 children and six women, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Local Coordination Committees, another monitoring group, said 49 were killed on Saturday alone.

"People in Aleppo already suffocating under the effects of the siege, have yet again come under horrific attack," said Carlos Francisco of Doctors Without Borders, which supports a number of area clinics. "No aid, including urgent medical supplies, is allowed to enter."

In the rebel-held neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr, cluster bombs killed 13 people and wounded 150, according to Ibrahim Alhaj, a member of Syrian Civil Defense, volunteer first responders also known as the White Helmets.

The Daily Star

Syrian, Russian strikes kill 25 in Aleppo
http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http://www.thedailystar.net/world/warplanes-bomb-aleppo-after-syrian-army-launches-offensive-1288942

Saturday's death toll of 25 was expected to rise because people remained trapped under rubble, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

The civil defence organisation known as the White Helmets was left overwhelmed by the scale of the destruction, particularly after several of its bases were damaged in bombing on Friday.

The UN children's agency UNICEF said the loss of mains supply posed serious health risks in rebel-held areas as the only alternative source of drinking water was from highly contaminated wells.
 

Oxajil

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Thor said:
Laura said:
We ought to find out what media outlets use this bozo as a source and nail them here in the thread and on sott.

In Denmark, all the main stream papers quote SOHR all the time in the attempt to paint a picture that demonises Russia and glorifies the US led coalition. :(

It's the same in the Netherlands (especially the Dutch online newspaper Nu.nl). Whenever there is an event that is twisted and used to demonize Russia, they almost always say: "as reported by SOHR".

Regarding SOHR, here's an interesting bit from a briefing (February 4, 2016) with the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova:

Question: Can you comment on the situation when the international community expresses concern and sympathy for Syrian residents of the regions that have been “besieged by government forces” but at the same time does not show any regard for the fact that these people are being used by terrorists as a human shield and nobody has demanded that these people be released?

Maria Zakharova: You’ve addressed your question to the wrong person. We’ve asked our colleagues about this. In this particular case, you should request an answer from those who have been operating under this logic. We believe that double standards are unacceptable in humanitarian issues. It’s worst when a difficult humanitarian situation is made hostage to or is used for political purposes. Unfortunately, it has become the norm when people’s plights are being used to create political concepts and to promote the political interests of those who have no connection to these people, for example in Syria.

I mentioned the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) today. You can’t even describe its data as lopsided, because its reporting is not based on data. However, it has been operating for some time, and leading media outlets have cited its reports. Why? On what grounds? Why do they choose to cite information provided by this particular organisation?

Here is an indicative example. Several years ago, I cooperated with a leading Western news agency in my official capacity as deputy head of the ministry’s Information and Press Department. They asked me for comments, some of which were taped and others were not. To qualify for the right to make such comments, I had to pass three stages of approval by their leadership, even though I held an official position at the ministry. But look at the history of the SOHR, a former pizzeria that has become the basic supplier of information about the situation with regard to human rights in Syria. How could this happen? The only possible explanation is that this is an element of a broad information propaganda campaign.

And from another briefing, which is pretty well said:

He told the media that he lived in London permanently and was a businessman, or more precisely, owned a snack bar. Don’t look so surprised – it’s a fact. And that person established an agency which serious media outlets cite today. How long can this last? Don’t ask me. In principle, it’s like publishing “reliable” information and linking it to a pizza restaurant waiter or owner.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Sat Sep 24, 2016 - The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and de Mistura have put the death toll from the Syria conflict at more than 300,000 and over 400,000, respectively. This is while the UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

Egypt, Saudi stances on Syria crisis different: Cairo
http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/09/24/486145/Egypt-Syria-Sameh-Shoukry


Sat Sep 24, 2016 - Sources belonging to both the Syrian military and the militants confirmed the recapture of the Handarat camp on Saturday. Syria’s al-Ikhbariya television channel and the so-called
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the capture. The Observatory said that the capture of Handarat camp “comes as a result of intensive bombardment” by Russian and Syrian air forces.

Syrian soldiers retake camp north of Aleppo
http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/09/24/486149/Syria-Aleppo-Handarat-refugee-camp
 

Laura

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The items angelburst has posted certainly make clear our need to push the truth about this Pizza Bozo. We could also do something else a little bit clever: post the propaganda articles on sott with changed headlines reflecting the fact that they come from this source and add to each one of them an intro and conclusion (can be formatted for easy, repeated, copy/pasting) pointing out the unreliability of the source. For headline, something like "Pizza maker reports blah blah" or "UK gov seeks advice from snack bar owner and concludes blah blah" or Pizza maker hears the voice of tomato sauce and claims blah blah, UK gov thinks its the voice of god" or things along that line. I'm sure that sott editors can come up with their own and better ideas. (It's early and I'm not entirely awake!) It's just appalling that journalism has come to this.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
I came across another article with SOHR, also posted on September 24th. Looks like they flooded the media on that date. (Wonder if developments in Aleppo might be the impetus?)

Anyways, I posted two articles from this site (novorossia.today) before I realized - that the articles didn't have any identifying information, such as Author or credits from any news agency. Even the photos come up blank. I had to go back to the Putin thread and Post a retraction.

I rarely visited the site and usually accessed the site from the Fort Russ website. Up until the first of this month, you could also access Sputnik, from Fort Russ but that has been removed.
http://www.fort-russ.com/

This is the article and after (finally) checking over the whole site, my suspicions are that the site (itself) was set up for dissemination of propaganda?

BIG MISTAKE AMERICA AS RUSSIAN AND SYRIAN WARPLANES UNLEASH A FEROCIOUS ASSAULT ON U.S BACKED TERRORISTS IN SYRIA
http://novorossia.today/140854-2/

The article starts out like this:

Russian And Syrian Warplanes mounted a new wave of air strikes on American backed “Moderate” rebel-terrorist held areas of Aleppo on Saturday, rebel sources, a rescue worker and a war monitor reported, pressing a major offensive by the Russian-backed Syrian military.

Speaking to Reuters from Aleppo, Ammar al Selmo, the head of Civil Defence in the opposition-held east, said: “Unfortunately it continues. There are planes in the sky now.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Director Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters: “The raids are intense and continuous.”

Residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo said it faced the most ferocious bombardment of the war on Friday, after the military declared a new offensive to take back full control of the divided city. Selmo said the death toll was now over 100.

The Observatory said its death toll was 47.

********************** MORE INFO ON RUSSIAN AND SYRIAN AIR STRIKES ON U.S. BACKED TERRORISTS !

Below this, they or whoever - followed the script in the Reuters article but placed their own spin on the wording. (Nothing like originality! Have I ever mentioned - that stuff like this "frosts me where the sun don't shine"? I think, I feel a real learning curve coming up ..... )
 

Niall

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angelburst29 said:
This is the article and after (finally) checking over the whole site, my suspicions are that the site (itself) was set up for dissemination of propaganda?

Novorossia Today is anti-Kiev, pro-Russian. That article just copy-pasted from Western news agency reports. Notice that they truthified their headline.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Niall said:
angelburst29 said:
This is the article and after (finally) checking over the whole site, my suspicions are that the site (itself) was set up for dissemination of propaganda?

Novorossia Today is anti-Kiev, pro-Russian. That article just copy-pasted from Western news agency reports. Notice that they truthified their headline.

Thanks, Niall for the insight. Laura just Posted some information on the Putin thread, about the Novorossia site that I wasn't aware of and helps to explain some of my confusion. And you're right, now that I look at it again, that they had truthified the headline but I had mainly concentrated on the contents of the article.

(I think, I need to clock in an extra hour of sleep tonight - so I get my head - screwed on right? Oh, what a day!)
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Beirut (AFP) - Syrian regime forces advanced in the battleground city of Aleppo Friday, backed by a Russian air campaign that a monitor said has killed more than 3,800 civilians in the past year.

Syria regime advances in Aleppo, MSF decries 'bloodbath'
https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32775377/halt-aleppo-bloodbath-msf-tells-damascus-moscow/#page1

AFP on October 1, 2016 - The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity accused Syria's government and its ally Moscow of provoking a "bloodbath" in the city, saying the eastern rebel-held portion had become "a giant kill box".

Syria's army was advancing on two Aleppo fronts, as talks between key players Washington and Moscow -- which back opposing sides in the war -- appeared close to collapse.

Damascus's bid to recapture all of the divided northern city prompted the UN to warn of "a humanitarian catastrophe".

UN chief Ban Ki-moon announced he is setting up an internal board of inquiry to investigate the September 19 bombing of an aid convoy in Syria that killed 18 people.

The UN panel will report to Ban, who will "decide what further steps to take", a UN statement said.

US officials have said Russian planes attacked the 31-truck convoy bringing aid to a town west of Aleppo. Moscow has denied the accusation.

Just over a week after Syria's army announced an operation to recapture all Aleppo, it was advancing both in northern and central Aleppo Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor and state media.

In the north, it recaptured the Handarat former Palestinian refugee camp, as well as the old Kindi hospital, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Rebels had held the hospital since 2013, and capturing it allows government forces to threaten the opposition-held Heluk and Haydariyeh neighborhoods.

The Observatory said at least 15 people, including two children, were killed in strikes on Heluk and other eastern districts Friday.

- Humanitarian catastrophe -

In central Aleppo, meanwhile, fierce clashes shook the Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood, divided by the frontline separating the rebel-held east and regime-held west.

The army is seeking to capture the opposition-held sector of the district and advance to the main water supply station for the government-controlled part of Aleppo which is in the neighbourhood.

State television said 15 civilians had been killed and 40 wounded by rocket fire into the government-held part of Suleiman al-Halabi and neighbouring Midan district.

Since the army operation began, Damascus and Moscow have pounded east Aleppo with air strikes, barrel bomb attacks and artillery fire, killing at least 216 people, including more than 40 children, according to the Observatory.

The assault has levelled apartment blocks and put hospitals out of service, creating a humanitarian catastrophe in opposition areas besieged for most of the past two months.

It has been some of the worst violence since the March 2011 beginning of Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced over half the population.

Outside Damascus, meanwhile, air raids on several rebel-held towns in the Eastern Ghouta region killed at least 17 people including eight children, the Observatory said.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Washington was "on the verge" of suspending talks with Russia on Syria because of the Aleppo assault.

Moscow, a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad, began a military campaign to bolster his forces in September 2015 that has so far killed more than 9,300 people, the Britain-based Observatory says.

- 'Giant kill box' -

That figure includes 3,804 civilians and more than 5,500 jihadists and rebels, it says, adding that at least 20,000 civilians have been wounded.

The Observatory says it determines what planes carried out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

"We do not consider as reliable the information... coming from this organisation, which is based in the United Kingdom," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Kerry's Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Friday accused Washington of protecting a jihadist group in its effort to overthrow Assad's regime.

Lavrov told the BBC that Washington had vowed, under a failed truce deal, to "take as a priority an obligation to separate the opposition" from the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, once known as Al-Nusra Front, but that it had not done so.

"We have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare Nusra and to keep it just in case for Plan B or stage two when it would be time to change the regime," Lavrov said.

Moscow said Thursday it would continue its campaign, despite Washington's threat and international concern about Aleppo.

"Bombs are raining from Syria-led coalition planes and the whole of east Aleppo has become a giant kill box," MSF director of operations Xisco Villalonga said in a statement on Friday.

"The Syrian government must stop the indiscriminate bombing, and Russia as an indispensable political and military ally of Syria has the responsibility to exert the pressure to stop this," he said.


The activities of the controversial London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have been denounced by Russia’s Foreign Ministry with spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich casting doubts on SOHR’s reliability.

Russia questions credibility of Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
https://www.rt.com/news/syrian-observatory-human-rights-reliability-223/

( 25 Feb, 2012 ) "As far as we know, this organization employs only two people (its head and secretary-translator). It is headed by Rami Abdulrahman, who has no training either in journalism or law or even a complete secondary education," Lukashevich said.

The SOHR is one of the most widely-quoted sources of Syrian casualty figures and Lukashevich pointed out that many information agencies, primary Western ones, often refer to SOHR data in their reports on Syria.

"The fact that representatives of the 'observatory' have been avoiding contact with our diplomats speaks for itself," the spokesman added. "We think that these facts allow one to judge how trustworthy the information provided by this structure is."

In fact there are two sites each claiming to be an official observatory and providing different data. The original site is indeed controlled by Rami Abdulrahman, while the man behind the duplicate is Mousab Azzawi, who had worked as a translator for the original SOHR and launched his own SOHR site in December after he was fired.

Both sites report slightly different figures, none of which can be independently confirmed, leaving media outlets wondering how reliable their sources are.

Azzawi’s SOHR is apparently opposed to the rule of the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The allies of Azzawi’s site earlier confirmed to RT that reporting the deaths of the Syrian government loyalists was not in their interest.


War of Words: Russian Foreign Ministry calls out MSM reports on hospital strike in Syria

The false reports spread by the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” [based in U.K.] exposed by Russian Foreign Ministry
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/rus-expose-sohr-fakes/

(Oct. 23, 2015) The Russian Foreign Ministry has disputed Western media reports accusing Russia of hitting a field hospital in northwestern Syria and killing 13 people. The reports cited “sources” provided by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, stressed that such reports show tremendous bias towards Russia’s military efforts in Syria.

“There are so-called mass media reports which allege that Russian aircraft bombed a field hospital in the Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria and reportedly killed 13 people. I cannot say that these reports are written by journalists but their ingenuity delights,” Zakharova, told reporters.

She questioned the credentials of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, pointing out that it is based in Britain and has no direct access to the ground in Syria. “This information appears with reference to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. As we all understand, it is very ‘convenient’ to cover and observe what is happening in Syria without leaving London and without the ability to collect information in the field,” Zakharova added.

She said that Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict is aimed “primarily” at “protecting civilians,” while “terrorist groups” continue to receive “reinforcements of people” and “equipment from abroad,” which is a “very dangerous tendency.”

“These facts raise a question as to whether parties involved in the Syrian conflict are really interested in a peaceful settlement and how this goal is reconciled with financial and technical support for anti-government armed groups, including those who directly cooperate with terrorists,” she said during a briefing.

MSM attacks on Russia

Since joining the fight against Islamic State, Russia’s efforts in Syria have been repeatedly attacked by the Western mainstream media, which have published many unconfirmed reports employing scaremongering tactics.

AFP, a French media outlet, was responsible for publishing a piece titled 13 Dead as Russia strike hits Syria field hospital: monitor. The source in the story was identified as the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is run by one man – Rami Abdulrahman.
Just recently, Abdulrahman told RT that the last time he had been in Syria was 15 years ago and that all the information for his reports is taken from “some of the Observatory activists” who he knows “through common friends.”

In the past, Rahman has said he relies on sources on the ground, who are among the US funded Syrian rebels.

Shortly after the report appeared, a video emerged showcasing the exact moment of the alleged Russian hospital strike. The video was uploaded by activists known as White Helmets – a rebel group which has already been caught faking evidence of civilian deaths supposedly caused by Russian strikes.

Meanwhile, Russia said it struck a meeting place of terrorist leaders in northwestern Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry specified that it had used a KAB-500 bomb.

“A Sukhoi Su-34 bomber attacked the installation with a guided KAB-500 air bomb, which wiped the target out with everything that was inside,” MoD’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.
Despite the power of the explosion, a cameraman in the posted video runs through only a small cloud of dust.

Experts have questioned the authenticity of the video posted by the rebels, stating that it is physically impossible to film such a powerful explosion from a few meters away and survive.

“It didn’t look like an aerial bomb dropped from an airplane. It appeared to come from an angle and the angle of the explosion appeared to be more like artillery,” a former policy analyst for the US Defense Department, Michael Maloof, told RT.

This kind of unreliable reporting is just one of the latest examples. Earlier, the Turkish military released a statement saying that it had downed an unidentified drone in Turkish airspace after issuing the aircraft 3 warnings.

It was not long before reports suggested it was Russian and being used to collect information. However, a Russian drone manufacturer denied the reports, calling the photos of the allegedly downed drone part of a poorly-staged “informational provocation.”

Other baseless accusations quickly followed, including British newspapers speculating that Royal Air Force Tornado jets operating in Iraq were to be equipped with air-to-air missiles and that their pilots had been cleared to fire on “Vladimir Putin’s jets” in the case of an imminent threat.

Moscow issued a formal request to the British Foreign Office, demanding an explanation. The answer came in a news blog, when the UK’s MoD’s spokesperson wrote that “There is no truth in this story.”

Another CNN story suggested that several Russian cruise missiles targeting Islamic State positions in Syria had landed in Iran. Citing two unnamed “top US officials,” the American broadcaster reported that four Russian missiles had crashed somewhere in Iran after being launched from vessels in the Caspian Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry refuted the report, stating that missiles had hit their intended targets. “Unlike CNN, we don’t distribute information citing anonymous sources, but show the very missile launches and the way they hit their targets almost in real time,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Russia: Foreign Ministry tackles the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UKuy3pGFtc (3:17 min.)

Published on Oct 22, 2015

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, challenged the veracity of the reports of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which is based in London, during a press conference in Moscow on Thursday. Zakharova accused the reports as exhibiting bias against Russia's airstrikes on targets within Syria.

SOT, Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (Russian): "There is also information that terrorist groups continue to receive reinforcements of people and equipment from abroad. This is a very dangerous tendency. These facts raise a question whether parties involved in Syrian conflict are interested in a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict and how this goal is correlated to financial and technical support of anti-government armed groups including those who directly cooperate with terrorists. It is not a secret and it's an obvious fact that without preventing external assistance, blocking channels of infiltration of militants, illegal trade of Syrian hydrocarbons and cultural valuables the task of eliminating the outbreak of international terrorism in Syria is complicated."

SOT, Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (Russian): "The most effective weapon in such conditions for the international community and each state is combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations within the framework of active and partner international cooperation based on international law without any double standards."

SOT, Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (Russian): "There are so-called mass media reports which allege that Russian aircrafts bombed a field hospital in the Idlib Governorate in north-western Syria and killed reportedly 13 people. I cannot say that these reports are written by journalists but ingenuity of these reports delights. I would like to stress once again that this information appears with reference to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. As we all understand, it is very 'convenient' to cover and observe what is happening in Syria without leaving London and without the possibility to collect information in the field."

Media speculation rife over Russia’s operation in Syria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zcPi9BJH5k (3:09 min.)

Published on Oct 21, 2015

From day one of Russia's air campaign in Syria the media has accused Moscow of not just bombing terrorist targets, and of causing civilian casualities. RT's Gayane Chichakyan takes a closer look.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
I've come across another London-based PR agency that goes by the name of Bell Pottinger. The name brings to mind Bellingcat another London based "one man band" of MH17 investigation fame? After reading this article, I wonder if there is a connection between Bell Pottinger, Bellingcat and SOHR?

Fake News and False Flags -
How the Pentagon paid a British PR firm $500 million for top secret Iraq propaganda

http://labs.thebureauinvestigates.com/fake-news-and-false-flags/

By Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith October 2, 2016 (Note: Impressive website)

The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda programme in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.

The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking US military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside.

Bell Pottinger's former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy agreements.”

Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.

Bell, one of Britain’s most successful public relations executives, is credited with honing Margaret Thatcher’s steely image and helping the Conservative party win three elections. The agency he co-founded has had a roster of clients including repressive regimes and Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian president.

In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the US military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells – who no longer works for the company – told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was "shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.”

The firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus – then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq – and on occasion by the White House, Wells said.

Bell Pottinger produced reams of material for the Pentagon, some of it going far beyond standard communications work.

The Bureau traced the firm's Iraq work through US army contracting censuses, federal procurement transaction records and reports by the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General, as well as Bell Pottinger's corporate filings and specialist publications on military propaganda. We interviewed half a dozen former officials and contractors involved in information operations in Iraq.

There were three types of media operations commonly used in Iraq at the time, said a military contractor familiar with Bell Pottinger’s work there.

“White is attributed, it says who produced it on the label,” the contractor said. “Grey is unattributed and black is falsely attributed. These types of black ops, used for tracking who is watching a certain thing, were a pretty standard part of the industry toolkit.”

Bell Pottinger changed ownership after a management buyout in 2012 and its current structure has no connections with the unit that operated in Iraq, which closed in 2011. It is understood the key people who worked in that unit deny any involvement with tracking software as described by Wells.

Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was a huge media operation which cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average. A document unearthed by the Bureau shows the company was employing almost 300 British and Iraqi staff at one point.

The London-based PR agency was brought into Iraq soon after the US invasion. In March 2004 it was tasked by the country’s temporary administration with the "promotion of democratic elections" – a "high-profile activity" which it trumpeted in its annual report.

The firm soon switched to less high-profile activities, however. The Bureau has identified transactions worth $540 million between the Pentagon and Bell Pottinger for information operations and psychological operations on a series of contracts issued from May 2007 to December 2011. A similar contract at around the same annual rate – $120 million – was in force in 2006, we have been told.

The bulk of the money was for costs such as production and distribution, Lord Bell told the Sunday Times, but the firm would have made around £15 million a year in fees.

Martin Wells, the ex-employee, told the Bureau he had no idea what he was getting into when he was interviewed for the Bell Pottinger job in May 2006.

He had been working as a freelance video editor and got a call from his agency suggesting he go to London for an interview for a potential new gig. “You’ll be doing new stuff that’ll be coming out of the Middle East,” he was told.

“I thought ‘That sounds interesting’,” Wells recalled. “So I go along and go into this building, get escorted up to the sixth floor in a lift, come out and there’s guards up there. I thought what on earth is going on here? And it turns out it was a Navy post, basically. So from what I could work out it was a media intelligence gathering unit.”

After a brief chat Wells asked when he would find out about the job, and was surprised by the response.

“You’ve already got it,” he was told. “We’ve already done our background checks into you.”

He would be flying out on Monday, Wells learned. It was Friday afternoon. He asked where he would be going and got a surprising answer: Baghdad. “So I literally had 48 hours to gather everything I needed to live in a desert,” Wells said.

Arrival in Baghdad Days later, Wells’s plane executed a corkscrew landing to avoid insurgent fire at Baghdad airport. He assumed he would be taken to somewhere in the Green Zone, from which coalition officials were administering Iraq. Instead he found himself in Camp Victory, a military base.

It turned out that the British PR firm which had hired him was working at the heart of a US military intelligence operation.

A tide of violence was engulfing the Iraqi capital as Wells began his contract. The same month he arrived there were five suicide bomb attacks in the city, including a suicide car bomb attack near Camp Victory which killed 14 people and wounded six others.

Describing his first impressions, Wells said he was struck by a working environment very unlike what he was used to. “It was a very secure building," he recalled, with "signs outside saying ‘Do not come in, it’s a classified area, if you’re not cleared, you can’t come in.’”

Inside were two or three rooms with lots of desks in, said Wells, with one section for Bell Pottinger staff and the other for the US military.

“I made the mistake of walking into one of the [US military] areas, and having a very stern American military guy basically drag me out saying you are not allowed in here under any circumstances, this is highly classified, get out – whilst his hand was on his gun, which was a nice introduction,” said Wells. It soon became apparent he would be doing much more than just editing news footage.

Grey ops The work consisted of three types of products. The first was television commercials portraying al Qaeda in a negative light. The second was news items which were made to look as if they had been “created by Arabic TV”, Wells said. Bell Pottinger would send teams out to film low-definition video of al Qaeda bombings and then edit it like a piece of news footage. It would be voiced in Arabic and distributed to TV stations across the region, according to Wells.

The American origins of the news items were sometimes kept hidden. In 2005, revelations that PR contractor the Lincoln Group had helped the Pentagon place articles in Iraqi newspapers – sometimes presented as unbiased news – led to a DoD investigation.

Black ops The third and most sensitive programme described by Wells was the production of fake al Qaeda propaganda films. He told the Bureau how the videos were made. He was given precise instructions: “We need to make this style of video and we’ve got to use al Qaeda’s footage,” he was told. “We need it to be 10 minutes long, and it needs to be in this file format, and we need to encode it in this manner.”

US marines would take the CDs on patrol and drop them in the chaos when they raided targets. Wells said: “If they’re raiding a house and they’re going to make a mess of it looking for stuff anyway, they’d just drop an odd CD there.”

The CDs were set up to use Real Player, a popular media streaming application which connects to the internet to run. Wells explained how the team embedded a code into the CDs which linked to a Google Analytics account, giving a list of IP addresses where the CDs had been played. The tracking account had a very restricted circulation list, according to Wells: the data went to him, a senior member of the Bell Pottinger management team, and one of the US military commanders.

Wells explained their intelligence value. “If one is looked at in the middle of Baghdad…you know there’s a hit there," he said. "If one, 48 hours or a week later shows up in another part of the world, then that’s the more interesting one, and that’s what they’re looking for more, because that gives you a trail.”

The CDs turned up in some interesting places, Wells recalled, including Iran, Syria, and even America.

"I would do a print-out for the day and, if anything interesting popped up, hand it over to the bosses and then it would be dealt with from there,” he said.

The Pentagon confirmed that Bell Pottinger did work for them as a contractor in Iraq under the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF), producing some material that was openly sourced to coalition forces, and some which was not. They insisted that all material put out by IOTF was "truthful".

IOTF was not the only mission Bell Pottinger worked on however. Wells said some Bell Pottinger work was carried out under the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF), which a US defense official confirmed.

The official said he could not comment in detail on JPOTF activities, adding: “We do not discuss intelligence gathering methods for operations past and present.”

Lord Bell, who stood down as chairman of Bell Pottinger earlier this year, told the Sunday Times that the deployment of tracking devices described by Wells was “perfectly possible”, but he was personally unaware of it.

Bell Pottinger’s output was signed off by the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, according to Wells. “We’d get the two colonels in to look at the things we’d done that day, they’d be fine with it, it would then go to General Petraeus," he said.

Some of the projects went even higher up the chain of command. “If [Petraeus] couldn’t sign off on it, it would go on up the line to the White House, and it was signed off up there, and the answer would come back down the line’."

Petraeus went on to become director of the CIA in 2011 before resigning in the wake of an affair with a journalist.

Watch the Bureau's interview with Martin Wells below:
A firsthand account of Bell Pottinger’s top secret work in Iraq
https://vimeo.com/183694713 (one week ago - 7:05 min.)

The awarding of such a large contract to a British company created resentment among the American communications firms jostling for Iraq work, according to a former employee of one of Bell Pottinger’s rivals.

“Nobody could work out how a British company could get hundreds of millions of dollars of US funding when there were equally capable US companies who could have done it,” said Andrew Garfield, an ex-employee of the Lincoln Group who is now a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “The American companies were pissed.”

Ian Tunnicliffe, a former British soldier, was the head of a three person panel from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) – the transitional government in Iraq following the 2003 invasion – which awarded Bell Pottinger their 2004 contract to promote democratic elections.

According to Tunnicliffe, the contract, which totaled $5.8m, was awarded after the CPA realized its own in-house efforts to make people aware of the transitional legal framework ahead of elections were not working.

“We held a relatively hasty but still competitive bid for communications companies to come in,” recalls Tunnicliffe.

Tunnicliffe said that Bell Pottinger’s consortium was one of three bidders for the contract, and simply put in a more convincing proposal than their rivals.

Contractors were used because the military didn’t have the in-house expertise and was operating in a legal “grey area”.

Iraq was a lucrative opportunity for many communications firms. The Bureau has discovered that between 2006 and 2008 more than 40 companies were being paid for services such as TV and radio placement, video production, billboards, advertising and opinion polls. These included US companies like Lincoln Group, Leonie Industries and SOS International as well as Iraq-based firms such as Cradle of New Civilization Media, Babylon Media and Iraqi Dream. But the largest sums the Bureau was able to trace went to Bell Pottinger.

According to Glen Segell, who worked in an information operations task force in Iraq in 2006, contractors were used partly because the military didn’t have the in-house expertise, and partly because they were operating in a legal “grey area”.

An Iraqi woman walks past billboards reading 'Patrols and military convoys are for your protection' in Baghdad in August 2006. Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

In his 2011 article Covert Intelligence Provision in Iraq, Segell notes that US law prevented the government from using propaganda on the domestic population of the US. In a globalized media environment, the Iraq operations could theoretically have been seen back home, therefore “it was prudent legally for the military not to undertake all the…activities,” Segell wrote.

Segell maintains that information operations programs did make a difference on the ground in Iraq. Some experts question this however.

A 2015 study by the Rand Corporation, a military think tank, concluded that “generating assessments of efforts to inform, influence, and persuade has proven to be challenging across the government and DoD.”

Bell Pottinger's operations on behalf of the US government stopped in 2011 as American troops withdrew from Iraq, and its unit that worked there no longer exists.

Whether the material achieved its goals, no one would ever really know Wells left Iraq after less than two years, having had enough of the stress of working in a war zone and having to watch graphic videos of atrocities day after day.

Looking back at his time creating propaganda for the US military, Wells is ambivalent. The aim of Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was to highlight al Qaeda’s senseless violence, he said – publicity which at the time he thought must be doing some good. “But then, somewhere in my conscience I wondered whether this was the right thing to do,” he added.

Lord Bell told the Sunday Times he was “proud” of Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq. “We did a lot to help resolve the situation,” he said. “Not enough. We did not stop the mess which emerged, but it was part of the American propaganda machinery.”

Whether the material achieved its goals, no one would ever really know, said Wells. “I mean if you look at the situation now, it wouldn’t appear to have worked. But at the time, who knows, if it saved one life it [was] a good thing to do.”
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
This Lord Tim Bell seems like a real piece of work, although likely very familiar to EU readers here. The Baron appears to have also formed the group, Sans Frontières (Doctors without Boarders); so that now makes sense to me. _http://www.prweek.com/article/1406912/lord-bell-quits-bell-pottinger-chairman-form-new-pr-venture-sans-frontieres

A wiki page entry says a few things about the Baron: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Bell,_Baron_Bell

- On 19 November 1977 Bell was fined £50 for indecency. He had exposed himself while masturbating at his Hampstead bathroom window on 21 October in full view of female passers-by. {only £50, seems like his character was defined here.}

- Bell was instrumental in the Conservative general election campaign victories of Margaret Thatcher.

- In 1984 Bell was seconded to the National Coal Board to advise on media strategy at the start of the miners' strike.

- Bell was knighted in 1991 after nomination by Margaret Thatcher, and created a Life Peer after nomination by Tony Blair, as Baron Bell of Belgravia in the City of Westminster on 31 July 1998.

- Bell advised Hernán Büchi, a former minister of the Pinochet dictatorship, in the presidential election of 1989.

- Lord Bell, a friend of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, handled the media attention behind poisoned Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died in hospital 23 November 2006. {Boris is now dead - here is SoTT article on this affair: https://www.sott.net/article/307343-Litvinenko-By-Way-Of-Deception-Part-1}

- In December 2006 Lord Bell successfully lobbied on behalf of the Saudi government to discontinue the Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged bribes in the Al Yamamah arms deal.

- Lord Bell has also performed public relations work for the authoritarian government of Belarus,[12] and for the Pinochet Foundation (Fundación Pinochet). He has also worked as an advisor to former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

- In late 2011, Bell's lobbying interests were investigated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent newspaper which reported claims that the company attempts to interfere with Google results to "drown" out coverage of human rights abuses, that his employees had altered Wikipedia entries to create a better impression of clients and had easy access (via former Conservative MP Tim Collins) to the Cameron government and others overseas.[14] Bell-Pottinger, via a sting operation, were found to be willing to work for the authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan.[14] Bell launched an internal inquiry, but believed he had been singled out for his connection with Mrs Thatcher.[15]

{Related links (not linked here):}


Lukashenko's PR man sheds light on EU campaign EU Observer, 10 October 2008

Can Lord Bell’s PR skills combat the aroma of communism and cabbage? Minsk.by, 28 May 2008

How to sell democracy to Iraqis: bring in Lord Bell The Independent, 13 March 2004

Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 14 October 1998

Parliamentary voting record for Lord Bell

Belarusian have answered to Lord Bell

I'm sure that his page in life is very dark beyond wiki.
 
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