Since April 22, 2016, Syrian regime warplanes have been aerially bombarding Aleppo, with Russian support. So far, the attacks have killed over 250 people in the city.
One of the worst attacks occurred on April 27, when at least fifty-five people were killed and some sixty others injured in an attack on Aleppo’s Al Quds Hospital, which is supported by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Among the dead were a dentist, two nurses, several children, and one of the last known pediatricians in the city, Dr. Muhammad Maaz. The video below shows the hospital minutes before the attack, and includes the last known footage of Dr. Maaz.
Although this is not the first time Syrian and Russian warplanes have targeted a hospital, the bombing of Al Quds has ignited global outrage and shed further light on the regime’s carnage in Aleppo. Interestingly, however, some media sources, including many so-called antiwar leftists, have refused to acknowledge the Syrian regime’s crimes and have, instead, corroborated its propaganda.
These outlets have laid the blame for the Aleppo attacks on “terrorists,” “Islamists,” or “rebel factions,” often without differentiating among the three groups. In some instances, these organizations have almost entirely fabricated the details of these attacks.
In one incredible display of yellow journalism, Russia’s state-owned news outlet, RT, distorted footage taken by Hadi Abdullah, a well-known freelance journalist in Syria. The video shows the aftermath of regime bombardment in Aleppo’s Kallaseh and Bustan Al-Qaser districts. Rather than acknowledging this fact, RT falsely reported that Jabhat Al-Nusra and “other rebel factions” were responsible for what happened. Similarly, a BBC report blamed “rebel factions” for a series of bombardments in Aleppo that killed forty-four people, when in fact the regime and its allies were responsible. Unlike RT, however, the BBC did later acknowledge on Twitter that its report was “an error.”
While some of these reports, including RT’s, have been thoroughly debunked, hardline “leftists” continue to echo their claims, despite insurmountable evidence to the contrary.
Among these apologists is freelance journalist, Eva Bartlett, who has ardently defended President Bashar Al-Assad throughout the conflict. Citing reports from Syrian state-media and other sources like RT, Bartlett has, in articles published on her website, accused “terrorist” rebel factions—which she never clearly identifies—of being responsible for the recent violence in Aleppo. In her coverage of the Al Quds bombing, she absolved the regime of all wrong-doing, indicted “Western backed terrorists,” and called other accounts of the Aleppo attacks “blame-Assad propaganda.”
Bartlett is, unfortunately, not alone. After Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Matter, published a message on Facebook condemning Assad for the attacks in Aleppo, he was berated by Facebook users for, among other things, “buying into Zionist Salafist propaganda” and failing to recognize that Syria’s real terrorists are actually the “7th century inbred barbarian Islamists,” not Assad.
By placing all anti-regime groups under the “Islamist terrorist” umbrella and blaming them for crimes that are actually Assad’s, these shallow reactionaries regurgitate an unfiltered form of Syrian regime propaganda. While it is certainly important that opposition groups, like Jabhat Al-Nusra, be held accountable for their crimes, news sources like RT—and the purported “leftists” who rely on them—are either delusional or morally bankrupt in blaming anyone other than Assad and his allies, for the overwhelming share of recent carnage in Aleppo.
The fact is that the Assad regime has always been, and continues to be, primarily responsible for the death and destruction in Syria since 2011. Commenting on leftist denial of these facts, sociologist and journalist, Idrees Ahmad, rightly asked in a post published on Facebook: “Remember all those liberals, leftists and ‘anti-imperialists’ who were so eager to save Syrians from bombs last November? Well, Syrians are being bombed [by Assad]. Where are those people now?”
The answer is that they are too busy scouring for biased news coverage in order to defend Assad against the imagined demons they have concocted.