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    Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, carry a body retrieved from the rubble following reported government airstrike on the Syrian town of Ariha, in the northwestern province of Idlib, on February 27, 2017

    White Lies: 'Syria Civil Defense' Caught Faking Rescues, Doctoring Dead Children

    © AFP 2019 / Omar haj kadour
    Middle East
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    The Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) has accused the Syria Civil Defense, better known as the White Helmets, of falsifying information about its alleged work in Syria. According to the Swedish human rights activists, so-called "rescue" procedures captured in White Helmets videos had been staged; they were carried out on a dead child.

    SWEDHR findings have raised serious questions about the ethical integrity of the White Helmets regarding the anti-medical procedures they advertise in their videos. They behaved as war criminals when they used dead children for propaganda purposes when staging fake rescue attempts, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli wrote in the Indicter magazine.

    According to SWEDHR, which paid attention to "questionable" cases of chemical attacks in Aleppo, Syria, including the incident on Sarmin, Idlib, on April 15, 2015, medical rescue scenarios depicted in White Helmets videos had obviously been staged. Namely, no substance (e.g. adrenaline) was injected into the infant while the ‘medic' or doctor introduced the syringe-needle in a simulated intracardiac-injection maneuver, which was considered sufficient to raise a hypothesis that the child might in fact have died because of the injection procedure.

    While the While Helmets themselves attributed the infant deaths to chlorine gas, this was disputed by SWEDHR. Additionally, a UK doctor ventured that the deaths could instead be attributed to drug overdose, most likely opiates, the Indicter reported.

    However, SWEDHR stressed that it has never accused the White Helmets of "murdering children," nor has it directed similar accusations against the personnel showed in the video published by White Helmets. According to a SWEDHR statement, denouncing an article by the website Veterans Today, which was published under the headline of "Swedish Medical Associations Says White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos," this formulation was "utterly inaccurate" and did not represent SWEDHR's true position on the issue. By its own admission, SWEDHR "took special care" in formulating its conclusion in order to avoid accusing the group of killing intentionally.

    Previously, SWEDHR ventured to disprove the wide-spread allegations that Syrian government forces have systematically used helicopters to drop chlorine gas on civilians in rebel-held areas of the country. According to SWEDHR, a critical analysis of evidence illustrates that the blame rests with Syrian rebel forces.

    ​"As outlandish as it may sound, it's quite likely that Islamist opposition forces in Syria are behind all of these events. Surprisingly specific and hard-to-deny visual clues suggest rebels are murdering the victims themselves using different methods, and lodging false claims as cover, to shift the blame," Adam Larson, an independent investigator in Spokane, Washington, wrote in the Indicter.

    SWEDHR is a non-profit, non-governmental organization formed with the participation of Swedish professors, PhDs, medical doctors and university researchers in the medical sciences and health-related disciplines, devoted to international issues on the human rights front. Participation is purely voluntary and done on a private basis.

    Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, formerly with the Karoilinska Institute and Harvard Medical School, is the founder and chairman of SWEDHR and the editor-in-chief of The Indicter and CEO of Libertarian Books — Sweden.

    The so-called Syrian Civil Defense, commonly known as the White Helmets, was founded in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2013 by former British officer James Le Mesurier, who underwent training courses offered by the Turkish Search and Rescue Association. In the ensuing years, SCD grew to a full-fledged organization of some 3,000 volunteers operating from over a hundred local civil defense centers across Syria. SCD is supported by the aid agencies of a number of external donor governments, such as the UK Commonwealth Office, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and, most notably, the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

    The White Helmets claim to have rescued over 70,000 people, yet judging by its own imagery was found to have been rescuing the same "victims" at different occasions. Additionally, White Helmets members were found to take sides in the ongoing Syrian war, carry arms, sport Islamist imagery and defile the corpses of Syrian soldiers.

    Meanwhile, the process of glorification of the White Helmets goes on in the Western world. In 2016, the White Helmets received the Right Livelihood award, which is commonly called the "alternative Nobel Prize." In February 2017, an eponymous a 40-minute documentary about the White Helmets by director Orlando von Einsiedel won an Oscar for best documentary short feature, whereas celebrity actor George Clooney voiced plans of developing a feature version of the film.

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    White Helmets, fake news, SWEDHR, Scandinavia, Sweden, Syria, Middle East
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