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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jaish al-Islam, Protecting the Syrian People

Jaish al-Islam, Protecting the Syrian People
April 3, 2016
Modified from upcoming report

"Cages of Protection"
It wasn't long ago that Jaish al-Islam recieved some unfavorable publicity for apparently caging captured men and women “believed to be Alawite officers and their families,” in some 50 tiger cages, paraded around Douma in late October, 2015. They promoted the idea with the slogan “cages of protection,” deploying the captives as human shields claiming to to believe it might stop indiscriminate bombing by the “Alawite regime.”

The move was widely denounced in normal channels, but an activist told Al-Jazeera this was more JaI democracy and the locals supported it; “most people decided to place those prisoners from the Alawite sect and high-ranking regime officers in cages so they can taste our misery.” This disgusting display, compared to the stated reason for it, and where they got the people, does much to reveal the twisted management style of JaI that no decent person could support.

Al-Jazeera heard quickly, and predictably, how the alleged regime airstrikes continued (the “Army of Islam” might say this is because “Assad” doesn't even care about his own people). They heard JaI was “moving the prisoners to the rooftops of homes as a supposed deterrent,” but still activists told them “that 250 civilians, including 50 children and 20 women, were killed by government forces in attacks during the last three days alone.”

But this is a nationwide total: The VDC records 256 total "martyrs" from 10-30 to 11-1 (and less in all other spans they might refer to), including 26 women, 51 children, 139 civilian men, and 49 rebels, killed by all causes across all of Syria. Douma's share was sizable – 71 . There's no word whether any of their human shields were among those killed. But the VDC records 4 local but unidentified women killed November 1, all at once with a mortar shell, presumably of regime origin, as they say “while they were heading to a medical point in the city” for some prior reason. That makes little sense. Four women is, of course, about one cage's worth.

Reason: to Prevent (Their Own False-Flag) Attacks

One of those deadly attack the cages failed to stop, as common in Douma, was at a public market. Many such attacks have been reported, blamed on cruel regime shelling, sometimes with “barrel bombs.” These events have killed many hundreds total, in addition to other alleged shelling, bombing, snipers, etc. in an area (Douma) that's fairly depopulated.

But these "market attacks" are odd, and tend to kill almost totally men and older boys, suggesting the victims were segregated like captives before they died. The early November attacks were said to kill 71 civilians in Douma. 56 share the note “market,” and of those, 48 are men. This is pretty standard. Some presume this means rebels are laundering their battle deaths, and it could be. But as with the Caesar photos victims, much evidence says these – at least partly - really were civilians, just split-up by age and sex; the men are killed in huge numbers, with far less women and children taken captive, or perhaps taken but saved for other fates.

The only Douma market attack I've studied closely - and it was very closely - was the one on August 16, 2015, and this will shed some light on the rest of them (see investigation review for more). Perhaps the most famous and widely-decried example, this had about 120 civilians reportedly killed when a fighter jet hit the market district with four fuel-air or "vacuum" missiles at mid-day. There are 4 such impacts in the market strip, with some injured and dead seen at each site. But most deaths seem to be unrelated; lists show at least 110 men, about 12 boys (mostly older, so “fighting age men”), 3 women, and no girls (the lists seem to be incomplete). Two key findings:

1) Analysis shows at least 40 of the men and boys were dead, fairly dry, and gathered for burial at roughly the same time as the impact of the rockets blamed for killing them. The attack was probably around 1:20-1:25 pm, while the earliest photo of bodies was taken (right, timed roughly by sunlight angles) was somewhere between 12:55 and 1:25 PM. That means they were killed well before the “missile attack.”

2) The southerly direction of fire and evenly arcing pattern of impacts (right – the red dots are exact) virtually proves they did not come from any circling jet, but from a fixed surface position about 800-820 meters south of the stricken markets. (see the review, and here for the mapping explained.) These would be rockets, not missiles, fired by allies of the killers to provide the public explanation for the rows of corpses from the massacre earlier in the day.

A Reuters report heard from someone and concluded that the attack seemed to be “retaliation” for a recent victory, “by the Islamic Army rebel group, which enjoys strong support in Douma.” So the “regime” was aiming for the group's civilian support base. JaI Spokesman Islam Alloush (no relation to Zahran) said “We do not have any presence in the residential areas” and so couldn't themselves be the target. A “civil defence officer” told al-Jazeera from Douma. “There are only civilians here - no army and no opposition forces. Residents do not permit any armed person in this area. ... The market was intentionally targeted.” Operating outside the city then, we should wonder if one of JaI's positions was, perhaps 800m south of Douma's market district.

Finally, some more disturbing clues in the August 16 attack: no girls were listed as killed, but at least four are shown in pictures, all with head wounds, and one clearly looks like it was caused by a sword. One teenage boy was clearly pulled apart, as if tied between two vehicles driving opposite ways, in a terroristic fashion employed by Islamic State and others. Rockets don't do this. Then he had his face cleanly burned away, maybe just to mimic a fuel-air “vacuum missile” and, still alive in some clinic, was passed off as another victim of the day's Assad fighter jet “massacre” in Douma. If this happened there (unverified), JaI will at least know about it.

So really the market and similar attacks seem to be or include unacknowledged terrorist massacres of gender-segregated captives. It should be noted the victim don't have to come from Douma itself but anywhere JaI has a reach. Real explosions can be arranged with things like rockets. Then they can blame the death on the rockets and blame those on “Assad.” Later they decided to put other stolen people into “cages of protection” to help show they really do believe it's all coming from the sky, and the world has to come give them a Libya-style “no fly zone.”

Securing the Props

If that sounds outlandish, consider how they get the props for the October performance: As AFP reported, citing the opposition SOHR, “most” of the caged people “were kidnapped by Jaish al-Islam two years ago outside Adra al-Ummaliyah, a regime-held neighbourhood in Eastern Ghouta.” The report added “a Jaish al-Islam spokesman was not reachable for comment.” Another al-Jazera report quotes an activist agreeing “the men and women in the cages were detained during battles in Ghouta and Adra.”

This “battle” is also the Adra massacre, infamous to some, unknown to most (see ACLOS (talk) page unless the main page is ever filled in). This major sectarian beheading spree was the only time the army of Alloush would have direct access to most of Adra, a sprawling, mostly-government-held district northeast of Douma. Early on December 11, 2013 thousands of Islamist fighters from the new JaI coalition, Jabhat al-Nusra, and allies, swarmed over defenses and seized control. A large number of soldiers were killed and captured, and then civilians were executed in their homes, according to prepared lists. An unclear number were beheaded in the open, their bodies left in the street and their heads reportedly displayed on trees. Some were said to be cooked alive in the ovens of a bakery the rebels overran. One family was killed when the father blew them all up along with some militants to prevent their being captured. These accusations aren't proven but are precedented and quite credible.

The death toll is unclear. One detailed early report had at least 63 defenders killed (8 Palestinian fighters, 25 police men, 12 NDF members, and 18 SAA soldiers) and 60 civilians executed (including state employees, 6 Bakery employees, and civilians - mainly Alawi, Druze and Christians). SOHR heard a smaller numbers of civilians (around 30-40) were killed, all of them Alawi, Shia, and Druze. Other reports had over 100 civilians butchered, and perhaps 400 killed in total.

Witnesses reported to RT the attackers were mainly non-Syrians under the "black flags of Jaish al-Islam and al-Nusra Front. Some of them were singing ‘Alawites we have come to cut off your head’s song..." According to some reports, the operation was commanded by Zahran Alloush. Even Reuters heard "Several blamed the Army of Islam, … "Zahran Alloush has committed a massacre," one activist based in the Damascus suburbs told Reuters."

There's no proof of ISIS involvement, but it's possible at this ambiguous stage – they were part of the Islamist team in Latakia a few months earlier (see below), but starting to fight with others in some areas by this time. This might matter, as the VDC director Razan Zaitouneh had been accusing ISIS of murdering activists, and she was abducted and disappeared on the night of December 9/10, just one day before the grand Adra offensive. 

If left alone, the VDC might have finally broken their silence on JiA crimes and criticized the Adra massacre, or maybe not. As it is, with their director just kidnapped, they recorded no soldiers or civilians killed at all on the bloody first day.  During an occupation to about Dec. 29, VDC records about 90 combatants * and 45 civilians killed (33 men, 8 women, 3 boys, 1 girl. Two died on the 12th, several on the 14th and 16th, and the rest over the final days - ACLOS). By this, nine Adra civilians died, along with 36 people from other places who were living there (this could mean they're religious minorities or government loyalists who felt safer in Adra than in the place they left). They died during the rebel occupation but they from: government starvation and regime sniper (one each), 11 executed by regime forces, and the rest killed by government shelling.
* 65 rebel fighters killed during a week-long battle, and 37 "regime forces" – but none on day 1. 3/4 of these are listed as from Tartous or Latakia, suggesting killed for being Alawite. A colonel from Tartous is listed on the 12th with the note “he blew himself up.” They don't say why, and don't list any family dying with him.
Most likely the first day's mass-killing is just unreported here, and these later deaths are acknowledge but laundered hostage executions, and should be added to the likely total death toll for the Adra Massacre.

Official reports were that at least “dozens” of civilian captives were taken south from Adra, towards Douma. Al-Monitor reported in May, 2015 "the Al-Baton jail reportedly held a few hundred women and children taken prisoner from the Adra al-Omalia area. The men who had been taken alongside them are believed to have been executed." This is similar to the tactics used a few months earlier in the joint Islamist conquest of several villages in Latakia near the Turkish border, by Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIS, Ahrar al-Sham, and alies – all of similar mindset to JiA. The men were all killed, with no age exemption, with some women an children (about 200 total killed) while about 200 women and children (aged 13 and under, usually) were taken as property and used as bargaining chips. In this case, two years later JaI was tossing around metal boxes full of the people they stole from Adra. 

But their politcal/sales director Mohammed Alloush - a brother or cousin of slain JaI leader Zahran Alloush says things like this: “Abducting people is not part of [our] approach.” (see Time, at the time of the Zaitoneh abduction and Adra offensive). And so, like Ahrar al-Sham and sometime even Al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam is considered by outside backers as "moderate Islamists," perhaps worth supporting as a counterweight to "both Assad and ISIS." Perhaps coincidentally, Western and Gulf governments and human rights groups considered the events in Adra unclear, and never really clarified them, and the story was forgotten.

But Zahran Alloush probably committed a massacre in Adra, and probably many others. And now his close relative, fellow thinker, and JaI political leader Mohammed Alloush is in Geneva as the head of the opposition "High Negotiating Committee" (Al-Monitor). At Saudi insistence, leading the push for “accountability,” deciding who has “blood on their hands” and  who is “the terrorist” in Syria. Alloush is tasked with forging an agreement with the Syruian government to end hostilities, but wants US air strikes first, and demands the "fall or death of Bashar al-Assad" before the "transitional period" can begin.

Syria refuses to talk (directly) with a member of a terrorist group. It seems current protocol blocks Alloush's involvement anyway, as a member of a terrorist group. But having picked a member to lead their team, Saudi Arabia seems sure they'll get that changed in time. Staffan deMistura is optimistic about talks towards a settlement, as the only shot there is at ending the suffering in Syria. The US urges both sides to take advantage of this golden chance, or things will get worse.


  1. Obama is linked to post-Algerian regime of past times. Words pronounced by Al Quaeda and alike organisations about conquering and loosing Libya and Algiers - with London working closely with Brussels in official sphere are just proof of fact, that islamic militarism founded on ethno-sectarian differences is just a lion in cage of western hegemony. You work lot! Best regards my friend and be work highly honoured!

    1. Thanks, MK - I'm getting the same feeling so far. It's also maybe like a poison they let the Saudis generate all over. Some nations get the antidote some are supposed to get sick or die. And thanks for having such good English.

    2. Good metaphor. We must also count with greatest churches and their links to overgrowing propaganda, which is clearly antihuman (as would Pravda.Ru rhetoric say) or unprecedented in coarse meaning. Or is it too folly from me to conclude, that one of opposite views to worlds developments, on one hand the western view and on the other hand post-soviet or the socialist view to the world and to the justice between nations, may be more accurate? Definitely we live in world where every state work with kind of its propaganda, near or far from at the point, but what about growing schizophreny between western media view and western popular view, or even more extreme state of schizophreny between western state propaganda and view shared in natural way by western intelligence class? Is this schizophreny in natural order to growing scene propaganda, or will it better open into revolution movements on the west? .. they (western hegemonialists) build on old structures, same way as they let old sort to support color revolutions (e.g. neonazzis in 1989 europe's events, while neonazzis also serve as natural agent against world revolution forces, isolating communists and similar groups from any involvement in real changes of 1989 masquerades..). They needn't count on belief in islam, they suffice with Saud family and visible image of islam, be it anything. To supress opposition even bad Islam and cruel traditional ruler is sufficient weapon to them. Thank you for idea. Best regards my friend and be work highly honoured!

    3. To shot nearer to black dot of your target, by my humble opinion they use Saud for growing anything else in region into chaos, and on the other hand they use Turks to cut this long grown grass. So grass and grass cutter metaphor - as a proper puzzle part to your good very good metaphor! But lets count with problems in it, because they don't share our need to have reasonable rule of order in countries. They "walk one step in the blow land, and another from it when it is fire site" - US generals don't tactise with stabilisation in countries. They stabilise just in operation locality, and their operations are limited to bomb the way in for extremist powers, linked to Saud.. they want to recolonise world, and they securely plan to do it with countries returned "into the Stone Age." In such framework of countries they will count on their military muscle.. in different environments, U.S. and its allies armies shown incapable to win anything valuable, or at least to spare U.S. boys from inefficient looses. Looking forward to another discussion with you. Sorry for double messages. Best regards my friend and be work highly honoured!

  2. With your approval I would left my comments with yours one (with link to your profile preserved) reprinted on my news factory blog http://sah.blog.cz/1604/uvahy-pod-clankem-o-dzes-al-islami-na-strance-http-libyancivilwar-blogspot-cz. It's called "Ideas under article on Jaish al Islam on page http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.cz/." Have a nice day! Be work highly honoured!


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