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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Douma Cages: Genocidal Display, or Twisted Hoax?

Douma Cages: Genocidal Display, or Twisted Hoax?
(or maybe just Humans, Shielding Subhumans, in Douma) 
November 3-4, 2015

Here's what could be a special entry under precedents for the Douma market attack (August 16) being a false-flag event carried out on captives of the ruling "Army of Islam." It'll go there too, but this clearly deserves its own post. 

My first tip: Leith Fadel, Masdar News, Nov. 1 U.S.-backed “Moderate rebels” put Alawite women in cages to protect themselves from airstrikes (includes 2 video stills, one at right) - Off-Guardian repost of that, with video.
In order to deter the Syrian and Russian Air Forces inside the East Ghouta (collection of farms) region of rural Damascus, the U.S. backed moderate rebels from “Jaysh Al-Islam” (Army of Islam) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have placed kidnapped Alawite women in cages to protect themselves from airstrikes.

The U.S. backed Syrian Opposition’s social media activists posted the photos of the six kidnapped Alawite women on Twitter, adding their extra commentary that included sectarian insults to degrade the helpless women and taunt the Syrian President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad.
Al Jazeera has reported on it too: Syrian rebels use caged captives as 'human shields'. They pass on HRW's Ken Roth complaining these rebels "stoop to the level of Assad," who he reminds everyone is the main problem, always bombing Douma and making people have to eat grass, and leading some to think up things like this. The al-Jazeera report doesn't show any images, and they by-line it "Prisoners believed to be regime officers used as shield near Damascus as Assad forces intensify bombing of rebel areas." But they're women, we heard. Actually the video shows some men as well in the three cases shown. And the article does acknowledge: "the prisoners are believed to be officers and their families from the Alawite sect."

Al Jazeera's report has rebels saying it was a democratic decision of the general populace there:
"After what happened in the city of Douma and the whole of eastern Ghouta, most people decided to place those prisoners from the Alawite sect and high-ranking regime officers in cages so they can taste our misery," said Bara Abdul Rahman, a media activist in the video.
The threat was conveyed in video clips and photographs posted on social networks under the hashtag “Cages of Protection,” which offered the macabre spectacle of male and female prisoners being driven through the streets of Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus.
The captives were being placed in dozens of cages on rooftops and in streets throughout the rebel-controlled territory “so they can taste our misery,” Mr. Abdulrahman said in one of the video clips published online Sunday.
“Human rights and humanitarian organizations will start calling on the opposition to release those officers,” the activist added, standing alongside one cage. “We didn’t hear those organizations calling to save the people of Eastern Ghouta.”
Please, can the Human Rights Groups finally issue just one call to "save the people of Eastern Ghouta?" We're all tired of their endless whining about the Alawites and Christians, getting distracted by ISIS, and ignoring Assad's crimes. Can anyone please just once think about the Sunnis?  </sarcasm>

They say this is a brand-new policy, but these captives could be just the kind of people who've died in every other "regime air strike" in Douma, or the x-hundred gassed in rebel basements back in August 2013. Civilians who've been unnaturally segregated by gender dying in bulk with verifiably false explanations are quite likely captives. We can see here rebels are hardened, capable of caging people like this without batting an eyelash. They don't seem to be newcomers to this game.

Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) has previously claimed, with every strike in Douma, that they have no presence in Douma, only in easily hit bases outside the city. They say residents won't let them in. That could almost be - JaI has had to "clash with armed residents" before. But someone keeps shelling those roadblcoking citizens, sometimes from 800 meters to the south. Here, JaI (presumably, but not certain) is driving its trucks with prisoners through some war-ravaged city. I'll see if I can place that scene, presumably in their captured stronghold of Douma.

Joshua Landis says, per NYT, that some of the women appear to be Sunni. That could be because they'e been converted, or just held by Sunnis who dress them. The Aalawite men too look like heavily-bearded shaved-head Sunni Islamst guys, besides looking quite lean and underfed.Also, they look to me more like farmers or something than like officers.

Then, having watched the S.N.N. video (also embedded) and how they talk, I don't think the prisoners are clearly under duress as they denounce Assad and Russia and their bombing. It's possible, but I think it's at least as likely these are Sunni pro-rebel actors helping sow this controversy. That may or may not be revealed in time. It involves taking a PR hit, but unlikw the straight reading allows for (and would almost surely get) explained as a hoax and try to score points in the long run, by supposedly showing some anti-Sunni hypocrisy.

I'll try to come back to the size and quality of the man's commentary, the women, etc. and consider more closely.

Consider: NYT report mentioned the activist seen in these videos, Baraa Abdulrahman, had previously arranged just this show:
In February he staged a propaganda message that self-consciously echoed an Islamic State video in which a caged Jordanian pilot, in an orange jumpsuit, was burned alive. In that clip, the activist appealed for help from the outside world by speaking to the camera about the strikes while standing in front of a cage filled with neighborhood children dressed in orange. After waving a torch, Mr. Abdulrahman asked why the killing of the pilot had prompted global condemnation while the deaths of children in Douma had passed almost unremarked on.
Here's a tweet about it with a photo I dug up from Feb 15, Are we just seeing part two of his stupid cages play? The people in cages are saying just about the same thing."Stop the killing of children" in February, in October Alawites themselves are just as sick of the civilian deaths as anyone - and their demeanor suggests it's not just coercion. They all suggest the answer is an end to "Assad," somehow...

Still, whether or not this is a real example, I'm fairly sure the local Islamists do regularly round up heretics and government loyalists, military or otherwise, with their families, and use them in various ways from bargaining chips or fund-raising, to amusement, to raw flesh for more "no fly zone" arguments (often in combination, of course).

If these really are captured Alawi, the coaching and teamwork is exceptional and nuanced. If so, nonetheless, I predict they'll wind up in tatters just to prove Assad doesn't even care about his Alawite slaves. And if they're Sunni actors, then maybe someone else will wind up in tatters and passed off as these people.Hopefully, for once, no one will wind up that way, and hopefully soon it can all end.


  1. One of the prisoners was identfied as a soldier. This are real warcrimes from warcriminals, no hoax . Nice try, but only more propaganda as the warcriminals do, too. "Assad doesn't even care about his Alawite slaves" same propaganda as the terrorists did. One of the activist Abdel Rahman in the NY-Times is a terrorists who loves beheaders. Have a look at the propagandist with his friends:

    1. Lol ... once again it's shown anger is the best spurn to commentary. I like comments, so that works for me. Also shown, anger often arises in part from misunderstanding.

      So, step back and note I've marked sarcasm explicitly here once, and I didn't think the rest of it was that unclear. I'm expressing their implied (idiotic, sectarian) messages about Alawi, usually, when I use their Alawite (slight derogatory, that "ite", never hear of Sunnites)

      Thanks for an informed comment that might add to this study. For the moment though the impression of fakery is too strong to just drop. I'll have to look closer at the counter-info, soon - I'll have a look at the supposed ID, and also at the video. No problems there except time. Anything else related, feel free.

      And, anon, what do you think about the work I link to at top proving rebels rocketed their own market last time around? Isn't that pretty good work? Still not enough people noticing that one.

    2. "spurn" should be I guess "spur" or "prompt" or "cause", sry. :)

    3. That video, troubling. Beheaded soldiers, camo pants anyway (worn by both sides sometimes), Feb. 19, says "bodies in East Ghouta 02/19/2015 Army of Islam killed dozens in Tel Kurdi." Is that good or bad? Description adds "Heavy fighting in Tel Kurdish parties always (Douma) fought camp arrivals Front Army of Islam killed dozens of Lebanese elements Lat party (must be Hezbolla - party of (? not God = "lat") system and destroys their vehicles on Thursday." So, apparently in his view this must be a good thing. No question then how the activists documented the crime - it's no crime, and the killers showed them. Cool stuff. Note this was done to captives just days after his caged children stunt, FWIW.


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