The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons in the conflict and has insisted that the White Helmets themselves carried out such 'false flag' attacks to justify foreign intervention. Russian officials concur, and the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, an NGO, has provided the UN with evidence that the White Helmets have been engaged in the forced removal of human organs as well as theft and corruption in Syria.
Sputnik discussed what's next in Syria with Chris Kanthan, a San Francisco-based political analyst and author of the book "Deconstructing the Syrian War."
Sputnik: At this stage of the Syrian conflict, which parts of the country are still controlled by the militants?
Chris Kanthan: Basically it's all about the one last region still occupied by the Syrian rebels who are really al-Qaeda terrorists, the region is called Idlib. Assad, with help from Russia, is about to liberate Idlib and if he succeeds, it will be a big blow to the western government who have spent a lot of money and effort since 2011 on regime change in Syria.
Whenever Assad is about to take over a particular city or a region, the White Helmets stage false flag attacks, send out fake photos and videos and give the Western governments an excuse to bomb Assad.
This is a very old trick, that the US has been using for more than a century. For example, in the late 19th century, the US wanted to get hold of Cuba which was under Spain rule at that time, so the US newspapers started publishing all kinds of sensational fake news that claimed Spain was brutally oppressing Cubans.
One of the leading publishers in the US at the time was William Hearst, he once famously told his journalists: "you furnish the pictures and I will furnish the war." So that's exactly what's happening now, the West gives money to the White Helmets and says: "you furnish the videos, we will bomb Syria."
Sputnik: Why do you think the United States and the United Kingdom continue to support the White Helmets despite the fact that the group's unlawful actions are no longer a secret to anybody?
Chris Kanthan: Because they were the ones that are going to give the right reason or the excuse to bomb Syria, because if you don't have those sensational photos and videos of small children under the rubble, the US and the UK won't be able to pass the UN resolution or just go bomb.
Sputnik: What should be done at the international level to make the White Helmets accountable for their actions, such as staging a chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma and involvement in human trafficking?
As you pointed out, the White Helmets are also very much involved in organized trafficking and so on. So the other countries, maybe Russia and whoever they can get hold of, they should join and they should collect all the evidence and they should present it to the UN.
Sputnik: Friday marked the 8th anniversary of Syria's 'Day of rage', the wave of protests that grew into a nationwide military conflict. In your view, what awaits Syria now, politically and economically?
Syria's economy actually tripled in those years and tourists were going to Syria, even the mainstream media like the New York Times said that Syria was one of the best places to visit for tourists. So I think that within one year, the war will be over and then maybe with some help from China, which is very good at infrastructure, Syria will be able to rebuild itself, and I think that within the next five years Syria will be back to normal.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker and the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.