White Helmets for the Camera
The Syrian Civil Defense or, as they are widely known, White Helmets is an NGO claiming to be tasked with rescuing Syrian civilians caught up in the middle of the fight between various groups in the Arab Republic. However, numerous interviews with local people, who've witnessed their work, as well as compromising camera footage, suggest that the organization only helps people when the cameras are rolling.
The behind-the-scenes video below, which surfaced online, shows exactly how the White Helmets shoot their "rescue operations," revealing that at least one of them was 100% staged.
Several bystanders, interviewed by journalists, claimed that when the NGO's members arrived at the bombing site, they only helped to unearth several victims from under the rubble, filming the process. After that they just gathered their equipment and left, telling the civilians they should dig up other victims by themselves.
Staged False Flag Attacks
Apart from apparently faking "rescue operations," the NGO has also been accused of staging false flag attacks by Moscow and Damascus. The White Helmets claim to report chemical attacks allegedly conducted by the Syrian Army, despite the country's weapons stockpiles having been destroyed long ago under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Nevertheless, the White Helmets reported an alleged chemical attack in Syrian Douma on April 7, 2018. The NGO published a video from a hospital, where the group's members purportedly "treated" the attack victims, including several underage patients, by pouring cold water on them and giving them an unknown medicine. The video ignited world-wide public outrage and resulted in the US, France and the UK launching an airstrike against Syrian forces, using the footage as a pretext.
It turned out, however, that it was a false flag attack and the video was largely staged. Russian investigative journalists found a boy from the video and his father who revealed the truth. They explained that there was no chemical attack, but instead that the White Helmets had just gathered several bystanders inside the hospital, promising to give them food in exchange for participating in their notorious video.
Later the boy and his father, as well as several employees from the hospital, who witnessed the whole ordeal, gave their testimonies to the OPCW and to the media during a special press conference, where they revealed all the details on how the fake video had been filmed.
Helping Al-Nusra and Non-Moderate Militants
Another disturbing fact about the White Helmets is that they have been spotted working alongside outright terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front*. Not only NGO members were found in the same photos with terrorist group fighters, but they even worked in the same or neighboring buildings.
For example, Bolivian filmmaker, actress and activist Carla Ortiz, who has traveled across Syria, said that in many cities local schools were turned into headquarters for al-Nusra Front*, which at the same time, shared them with the White Helmets.
From the headquarters of the #WhiteHelmets who reported D alleged #chemicalatack in #Douma Meet them & take your conclusions Desde la base de los #CascosBlancos q reportaron el supuesto ataque quimico en #Duma Conócelos y saca conclusiones FullVideo👉🏼 https://t.co/n1rH9DKIiz pic.twitter.com/p5aHPTD8GK— Carla Ortiz (@CarlaOrtizO) April 17, 2018
"I saw how the White Helmets were sharing buildings with the al-Nusra extremist group, as if there was no problem with that. If you are an ordinary citizen, who has seen, what this group has done to your people, your family, raping your daughters and beheading people, you wouldn't share anything with them," she said.
Ortiz also added that many newcomers to the notorious NGO, with whom she has spoken, are fooled at first and believe they will actually be helping Syrian citizens. But many of them later realize that at least part of the White Helmets' assistance is aimed at militant groups that are far from being "moderate."
Medical Centers for Militants
Besides helping citizens trapped under collapsed buildings and reporting "chemical attacks", the White Helmets claim to be providing medical assistance to civilians injured as a result of hostilities. However, the interviews with those who requested medical help from the NGO showed that in fact it's not that simple for a person to get help from them, unless he or she is a member of a militant group.
According to the civilians interviewed, it turned out that the White Helmets set priorities in helping people, and civilians are on the bottom of the list. The NGO defends these priorities rigorously. One woman shared that a member of the White Helmets actually shot her in the hand, when she asked for help. Several other interviewees added that at the same time, the White Helmets gladly provide medical assistance to wounded militants, even non-moderate ones.
Foreign Funding for MI5 Officer's Pet Project
The group itself was founded in Turkey by former UK MI5 officer James Le Mesurier and is largely funded by Western governments, specifically by London, Washington and Amsterdam. Russia's Foreign Ministry also reported that the Qatar Foundation had subsidized the purchase of unspecified "heavy equipment" for the group, while George Soros-backed companies had been used to promote the NGO in the media.
However, the White Helmets' funding was almost cut by a third when the US halted its payments, citing a revision of expenditures. The cut in the cash flow from Washington took place in May 2018, hot on the heels of the scandal with the video of the Douma false flag attack, but didn't last long and was later resumed in June.
*Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Tahrir al-Sham.) and al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations banned in Russia